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Jason Garrett press conference: Tavon Austin versatility, Rico Gathers update

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The head coach gives his first solo press conference of 2018 training camp.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Minicamp Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Garrett was a hot topic during the annual State of the Cowboys address kicking off training camp in Oxnard.

Cowboys head honcho Jerry Jones noted that the coaching staff was the “number one” reason that he is so excited about this season (number what?) and had a very firm answer when asked if this is a “playoff or bust” season for Garrett... no.

There aren’t a lot of professions where a person would have the status of their job discussed openly with the entire world right next to them, but this is the NFL, and more specifically, this is the Dallas Cowboys.

Coach Garrett took the podium Han style (solo) for the first time on Thursday. Here’s a recap of what Red Ball had to say.

Kavon Frazier can’t practice for now

Jason Garrett fielded questions about Kavon Frazier who the team placed on the non-football injury list. Red Ball noted that they should hopefully know more about Kavon in the coming days after some more tests, but they don’t have any answers for now.

As of the moment Kavon Frazier can’t practice.

Jason Garrett sort of compared Leighton Vander Esch to Brian Urlacher again

When asked about the physical makeup of the Cowboys linebacking corps, Jason Garrett noted that the one player who has really flourished in the scheme Dallas employs is Brian Urlacher.

We’ve heard these comparisons for LVE before, but Garrett specifically mentioned Urlacher again. He noted that he wasn’t comparing one to the other, but he brought it up so hey.

“Really just need Rico to continue to progress.”

When asked about Rico Gathers Coach Garrett noted that they need him to continue to progress. This is the same song we’ve heard sung for the former basketball player, it’s one of a bit of ambiguity. He did note Rico’s rare size/athleticism, and said that if he made mistakes in last year’s preseason games, when they corrected him he didn’t make them again

Rico could be a big-time domino for this offense. His path clearly involves progression and the Cowboys don’t feel any differently now that they’re in Oxnard.

Dak Prescott’s leadership skills were heralded once again

Jason Garrett noted Dak’s success early on his career. He discussed how Dak has progressed in different capacities through two years, specifically in the world of leadership.

Dallas is counting on Dak to really step up this season, and if he’s taking on even more of a leadership role that’s certainly a good thing.

Sanjay Lal loves football... more than anyone ever possibly

One of the biggest additions over the offseason was new wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal. When asked about him Jason Garrett noted how intelligent Sanjay is and expanded on that by saying that he doesn’t know of anyone who loves football more than Sanjay does.

Alrighty then.

Tavon Austin is likely going to line up everywhere

Jason Garrett was asked if Tavon Austin could line up on the outside more (he worked on the outside Thursday afternoon). He noted that Tavon has quickness, speed, and athleticism that allow him to line up in a lot of different places.

Garrett did note that Tavon isn’t the biggest guy so don’t expect him primarily on the outside.

Allen Hurns is a pro’s pro

That is one thing that stands out about him, so says Garrett.

Maybe the Cowboys are actually going to use Ezekiel Elliott in the passing game

Jason Garrett noted that Ezekiel Elliott has a lot of talents that can be used in the passing game as well as the run game. We’ve all seen what Zeke is able to do in the open field off of screen passes, but there are many who have petitioned for this to be expanded.

Garrett noted that it’s possible for the Cowboys to use Zeke more in the passing game and noted that the “guiding principle” in how they have and haven’t used him here has been Zeke’s burden in the run game.

Jason Garrett thinks Jaylon Smith is moving more naturally without the brace on his knee

We’ve noted over the offseason how Jaylon Smith had the longtime brace removed this offseason. Red Ball discussed how he believes Jaylon is indeed moving more naturally and spontaneously without it now.

This is big news for Jaylon and a big step in his comeback. There are a lot of expectations on him this season and it seems like everything - at least in a medical sense - has gone as well as it can up until this point.

There wasn’t going to be any talk about Earl Thomas

The Cowboys danced around the Earl Thomas situation during their opening address on Wednesday, but Jason Garrett wasn’t having any of that.

When asked about Earl Thomas in a general sense he declined comment. When asked specifically about Thomas approaching him after the loss to Seattle on Christmas Eve Garrett noted that it “hadn’t happened to him before.”

Garrett loves players getting together in the offseason

Jason Garrett discussed players getting together in the offseason and is a huge fan of it. We saw Dak Prescott take some of his new receivers down to Florida a few weeks ago for some time together and his head coach discussed how this is the type of thing that’s big for football families.

Obviously the amount of time that coaches can work with players is limited, so it’s another great sign of Dak Prescott’s leadership that he made all of this happen.