After the recent issues in his private life and then showing up to OTA’s out of shape, what will be the status of standout DT David Irving in 2018? No one really knows for now, writes Hill.
Thus Irving remains an enigma of sorts for the Cowboys.
No one is panicking, because OTAs are “voluntary” workouts. But it’s also duly noted that everyone else on the roster is there, whether they are participating or not.
His teammates remain supportive. They know he has a different, albeit mercurial, personality. But they are understandably perplexed.
“David is David,” defensive end Tyrone Crawford said. ”Everybody knows David. That’s the dinosaur right there. We are trying to figure him out, too, and get him right. He is too big of a talent not to be on the field.”
While the coaches and front office staff are continually frustrated with Irving, the players are trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, because they know when he is around and he is right, he is one of the best at what he does.
ESPN’s Todd Archer isn’t too worried about All-Pro guard Zack Martin missing practice time during a contract holdout, nor is teammate Travis Frederick.
Most of the time we go with things we wonder about, but there are times we go with things we don’t wonder about. I don’t wonder if Zack Martin will be at next week’s mandatory minicamp. I believe he will be there. If he misses the three days of practice, he is subject to a fine of $84,435. Martin has continued to work out at The Star even though he has not taken part in the organized team activities, and most people expect him to attend the minicamp. Does that mean he will do everything in the camp? Maybe. Maybe not. The Cowboys do not wonder if Martin will be ready to go when things matter most.
“With a guy like Zack, honestly, he probably could step in at any point in a game and be just fine, so I’m certain that will work itself out,” center Travis Frederick said.
Much has been made of the drastic changes to the Cowboys receiving corps after releasing Dez Bryant, but the new wide receivers coach, Sanjay Lal, has a plan to make it all better than ever before, writes George.
Lal’s cerebral approach to coaching is a mix of his parents’ paths, calculated and detailed, and he’s a teacher at heart.
Lal cares about the finer details of routes, from how to line up in a proper stance, to finding the right depth, to maximizing leverage, to camouflaging a forthcoming break, and so on.
”It’s choreography,” Lal said of route running. “If you have a free-access look, you can’t be thinking about yards and depth. This has to be muscle memory. We’re working our footwork, our angles, how far our feet spread apart at the top of a break, where our shoulders are, where our eyes are pointed, and you’ve got to coach the minutia or it doesn’t happen.
”We film from all different angles, and we go in the room and we watch them. We say, ‘Hey, your left foot was pointed the wrong way. Turn your toe in a little bit and that will bring you out of this break more efficiently.’ So, really breaking down the game for these receivers and teaching them and understanding leverage, how far do I have to sync my hips to take enough speed off my next step ... so coaching the physics of it. Once they can self-correct, then you’ve got a real good shot.”
Any team that aspires to be great needs good leaders. But after the departures of Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and Orlando Scandrick, the Cowboys will look for new leaders to step up in 2018.
“I think,’’ Elliott said, “it’s a good opportunity for the younger guys to step up and do their thing.’’
Some of that manifests itself in fun ways. Elliott led a bunch of the fellas aboard a private jet for an exotic fishing trip in Key West that apparently included Dak and Zeke going shopping for X-rated gag gifts.
The tangible, touchable physical evidence of the work of the Leadership Council will soon hang in the locker room at The Star in Frisco in the form of another “Players Creed,’’ another 3-x-5-foot blue-and-white sign featuring slogans and signatures and fingerprints. (And then the “Creed’’ follows the team, to AT&T Stadium, to road games, everywhere.) It’ll be the result of lots of meetings and negotiations and even arguments.
After a 2017 campaign interrupted by suspension, the Cowboys are expected to bounce back in a major way thanks to having Ezekiel Elliott available for all 16 games.
They went over with Elliott missing 38 percent of last season, and he’s enough, we think, to make up for the lack of passing-game weaponry. This offensive line — especially with second-rounder Connor Williams on board — should mash. The defense should be better. And the special teams were solid in 2017 and should be better with a healthy Bailey.
As the end of the offseason creeps closer, candidates to be cut for cap space start to emerge. According to KD Drummond, there are already four players on the team who could save over $1 million if released.
The Cowboys coaching staff loves everything about [Tyrone] Crawford – at least publicly. They’ve always defended him at every turn for doing everything they’ve asked of him. It’s not his fault the front office gave him a ridiculous contract on speculation he could be something he isn’t. Now, he’s being asked to lose weight so that he can have a greater impact as a right defensive end.
Crawford is really good at setting the edge out there. Will that go away if he’s lighter? Does he have the requisite speed to get around the edge on a left tackle, or will losing weight just make him less good at what he’s good at?
Much has been made of how much better Jaylon Smith has felt this offseason, especially after he removed his knee brace. Part of what’s gotten him feeling so good is the magic of yoga.
“I was curious,” Smith said. “I’m a Gemini, very observant, and I just thought, ‘Why don’t I try to work on my flexibility more and learning how to breathe and learning how to really focus?’ That’s something that yoga provides.”
Smith spent his first month of the offseason going to “hot yoga” classes. He has a yoga instructor visit him when he’s home in Fort Wayne, Indiana, or he’ll attend group classes at ”Yoga on Main” when he’s in Frisco.
That, coupled with his other workouts, has Smith feeling in his best shape. He said he’s up 8 pounds in muscle mass and is at 3.5 percent body fat.
Oh, and Smith is no longer wearing a brace for drop foot. He feels freer on the field and feels it will only pay off in the long run. He feels he’s faster because of it, saying he runs the short shuttle in 3.98 seconds without it compared to 4.03 seconds with it.
When massive Virginia Tech cornerback Adonis Alexander declared for the supplemental draft after being labeled academically ineligible for 2018, many were curious if the Cowboys would be interested. Bryan Broaddus and David Helman give their thoughts on the potential move.
I don’t know much about Alexander, other than that he’s going to enter the supplemental draft. Just as a general rule, though, I feel like the Cowboys value their draft picks too much to get rid of one during the summer. Who knows, though. To your point, Alexander looks rangy and this coaching staff may be intrigued by him.
From the FanPosts
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Randy Gregory has officially applied for reinstatement to the NFL. The former second-round draft pick hasn’t played since the end of the 2016 season, but if he were to return to the team and manage to stay active, he could be a key player on the defense. Redsoxu571 seems optimistic that this could happen as he ponders how much of a mistake the selection of the troubled edge rusher has been.
Personally, I trust a process built on good decisions, even when results in the short term break the wrong way. To me, Randy Gregory was a 50/50 contest in which it cost me $100 to win $1000. Anyone who isn’t absolutely empty on cash should leap on such an offer, but that doesn’t mean you still won’t lose out a good half the time. The idea is to stack the deck with as much such situations (or better) as possible, so that you can push the sampling to a size that leads you to the average $500 profit. Randy Gregory in 2015 was such an opportunity. The final piece to factor in to this analogy? Remember that you essentially have to invest your $100 one way or another, and we now know that the other “games” at pick 60 offered up $200-$300 returns at maybe 60/40 win/lose odds. You can have your $120-$180 average winning options; give me the big payoff at only slightly higher risk.