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Cowboys news: Randy Gregory finally doing individual drills; backup guard will need surgery; more

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What’s going on in the world of the Dallas Cowboys? Let’s have a look, shall we?

NFL: Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Gregory Set To Practice; More Work For Lee - Rob Phillips, Dallas Cowboys
It's time to step up the workload of the Cowboys edge rushing toy.

Head coach Jason Garrett confirmed that Gregory will work in the individual period of Saturday’s padded practice. The 25-year-old defensive end has been working with the Cowboys’ strength and conditioning staff since the NFL reinstated him just before the start of camp.

Gregory began camp on the Active/Non-Football Injury list after serving a suspension since January 2017 for multiple violations of the league’s substance abuse policy. The Cowboys activated him from NFI on Aug. 1, allowing him to take part in walkthroughs. He did some conditioning work in pads off to the side during practice last week before the Cowboys traveled to San Francisco for their preseason opener.

Cowboys Randy Gregory: Off the jet ski, into today's practice (and Sean Lee in full-pads work, too) - Mike Fisher, 247 Sports
It’s an exciting day for the Cowboys as a couple new defensive players join the practice.

Dallas is back to work here on Saturday afternoon and there will be a slightly different look to the defense, as:

a) For the first time all training camp, linebacker Sean Lee will fully participate in a padded practice, and

b) For the rare time in two years, Randy Gregory will also be in pads, participating in individual drills.

Gregory has told me that the pace of his return is completely in the hands of the coaches and trainers, and that he trusts their judgment. And so the Randy Ramp-Up takes another step forward.

Following a day off after Thursday night’s preseason-opening loss at the 49ers -- a day off that allowed Gregory to frolic in the sea -- Dallas is ready to get back to work.

And as far as Sean Lee goes...

Lee, of course, is an established Pro Bowler and arguably the most important Cowboys player on that side of the ball. he told me on Thursday night that it was his plan, after serving as a team captain but an observer in that 24-21 loss, to play next weekend in Dallas' preseason Game 2 at home against the Bengals.

Today's practice is a step toward allowing him to fulfill that desire.

You can hear him coming: Sean Lee takes part in first full practice of Cowboys camp - David Moore, SportsDay
There was a snake in the grass in Oxnard on Saturday, in the form of an All-Pro linebacker.

It's difficult to regulate Lee's intensity when he's on the football field. The Cowboys have done so by holding the Pro Bowl linebacker out of the first nine padded practices of this training camp. He's done some work in the padded portion of practice, but it's been limited to individual drills.

That changed Saturday afternoon when Lee was allowed to go through a full practice for the first time as he prepares for the brief exposure he'll get in the next two preseason games.

"You can hear him all the time talking,'' Marinelli said about working Lee back into padded practices. "He's just prepared, really a great feeling for the defense to hear his voice. They know the calls, the checks, everything. He's been there, he's done it.

While some players are added to the mix, some other players are sitting it out.

Marcus Martin of Dallas Cowboys has torn ligament in right big toe - Todd Archer, ESPN
The Cowboys suffered their first casualty of the preseason when backup guard Marcus Martin hurt his right big toe against the 49ers. He will need surgery to repair a ligament tear.

Martin, who signed a one-year deal with the Cowboys as a free agent in March, was competing for one of the backup interior offensive line spots. He missed a couple of days of practice to work on his conditioning but the Cowboys believed he could play a role behind Travis Frederick, Zack Martin and Connor Williams. The injury leaves the Cowboys with veteran Joe Looney, who has held the backup spot the past two seasons.

The injury is a familiar one as the team lost another guard a couple years ago.

In 2016, La'el Collins, then playing left guard before his 2017 move to right tackle, suffered a similar injury and spent the final 13 regular-season games on injured reserve, although he was close to being able to return for the playoffs.

5 losers from Cowboys’ preseason loss include Kris Richard, Dez Bryant - Shawn Kairschner, Cowboys Wire
The loss of Marcus Martin isn't detrimental to the team as he's one of a handful of backup offensive linemen who aren't running away with a roster spot. As Rabs points out, things get a little hairy after the first six offensive linemen, but the Cowboys still must find a couple more bodies to join the squad.

Offensive Linemen Six Through Eight

While the starting five is unquestionably strong, the remainder is uncertain. Although neither particularly distinguished himself, I’m assuming that spots six and seven will go to Joe Looney, who manned the pivot for the duration of the game and Cameron Fleming, who wins ugly, but does win.

The eighth spot is a huge question mark. It appears whatever mojo Chaz Green had in 2016 as a competent left tackle has gone the way of the dodo; he’s become the King of the Embarrassing Snap.

Marcus Martin has looked awkward and out of shape and I was hoping for more from Kadeem Edwards. In about a month, the Cowboys are going to have to cut a defensive end who is much better than the eighth O-lineman they keep.

Besides Martin, the team came away relatively unscathed. They did have a couple of their bottom roster guys get nicked up.

Dak Prescott, Will McClay among 5 winners in Cowboys preseason opener - Shawn Kairschner, Cowboys Wire
Rabblerousr also provides his five winners from Thursday, including the silencing of Dak critics for at least another week anyway.

Dakuracy

Although the first-team offense wasn’t on the field for long, they made good use of their time, with Dak Prescott engineering a nifty 10-play, 75-yard drive. Most impressive was the way it ended: a 30-yard strike to rookie wideout Michael Gallup down the right sideline.

The perfect strike silenced critics who have spent training camp piling on a quarterback—and an offense—for an inability to go deep.

Still a major quarterback issue - Mac Engel, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
After having standout performances by backup quarterbacks over the last two preseasons, the Cowboys entered the 2018 season feeling pretty good about their depth, but Engel’s shtick is to always find a fly in his soup, so naturally he’s not sold on second-year UDFA Cooper Rush.

He was pretty good; he completed 15-of-23 passes for 145 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Not bad. Not great. Safe. Enough to get more quality time.

Either way, the Cowboys are trusting the sacred one-heartbeat-away-from-the-President job to the kid from Central Michigan.

“It’s a totally different comfort level this year; one, familiarity with the offense and the players and the coaches,” Rush said when comparing this season to his rookie year in ‘17. “Just understanding how defenses work, how schemes work. Mentally it’s been better that way, now it comes down to execution.”

Get used to this. Not only is Jon Kitna not walking through that door, it’s not open even if he wanted to knock. The days of the Cowboys scouring the waiver wire for veteran backups like Kitna or Kyle Orton are gone; they are all in with the New England way of developing their own in hopes that Rush is their version of Garoppolo.

Cowboys aren't afraid to take risks with Dak Prescott - Cody Rivera, Fansided
It's only the first week of preseason and the Cowboys have no problem letting Dak Prescott go out and do this thing.

That’s why head coach Jason Garrett wants Prescott to treat preseason game as if they are regular season games, and Prescott has no problem doing it. During his limited action in the preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers, Prescott clung to the football and darted for a 12-yard run.

Garrett was asked about it, and he said they don’t put restrictions on to what their 25-year-old signal caller can do in the preseason games.

“We tell him to go play,” Garrett said, according to DallasNews.com.

While it’s definitely exciting to see Prescott play to his full abilities, even during the meaningless practice games, it’s incredibly risky. We see running quarterbacks get hurt every single year, and it would be a devastating blow if the Cowboys were to lose Prescott before the regular season even kicks off.

Don't worry about Dak's level of play falling off. Concern about QB instead revolves around this ... - Tim Cowlishaw, SportsDay
Cowlishaw also expresses a concern about the absence of Dak Prescott.

What should be the Cowboys' greatest worry heading into the season?

Tim Cowlishaw: Even though we know there are more questions about Dak Prescott than Ezekiel Elliott, I think losing Dak (or perhaps DeMarcus Lawrence) would be the biggest things that could go wrong. Even if they lost Elliott, we know they can run the ball behind this offensive one. But Dak has suffered no significant injuries in his 33 games here, and losing him -- while not expected -- would seem to change everything given the inexperience of the backups.

Dak is no doubt an important player to this team, but you don’t have to tell him twice who the other important players are.

Please scoot responsibly.

Prescott’s perfection in limited action on Thursday can be chalked up to a “meaningless preseason” showing, but let’s not forget how good he can be when he’s got his All-Pro blockers all intact.

With five locks to help replace Dez Bryant, who becomes the Cowboys' sixth man at wide receiver? - Brandon George, SportsDay
The Cowboys have a slew of receiver targets for Prescott. Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin are all locks to make the team, but what about the other guys? While Lance Lenoir has the hot hand right now, don't forget about this veteran who has past experience with their receiving coach.

Deonte Thompson: The Cowboys signed Thompson in the offseason to add a speedy deep threat to the roster. But he'll need a strong finish to training camp to ensure a roster spot. Thompson received some first-team reps early in camp, but he's missed most of the last week of practices because of a strained Achilles. He has a slight advantage for the final roster spot considering his history with Lal in Buffalo. Thompson's contract is one the Cowboys could easily move on from considering only $1 million of his deal was guaranteed.

Pancakes and chop blocks: What stood out to Cowboys WR coach Sanjay Lal more than Michael Gallup's 30-yard touchdown grab - Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay
While catching touchdowns are great, new receivers coach is a lot more pleased with what the group is doing away from the ball.

"I loved the juice that they played with," Lal said Saturday. "Both at the point of attack and away from the ball, things you only see on the coaches' tape. We had a chop block, we had two pancakes. So their intensity versus the DBs was really impressive."

Gallup and Allen Hurns were credited with the pancake blocks, he said. Tavon Austin made the chop block.

"Tavon is the energizer bunny of the group," Lal said. "He gets everybody going and holds them accountable. ...I'm going to that because everyone wants to score a 30-yard touchdown on a go-route. Everyone wants the ball. This group's unique because they bought into the other aspect, the harder, the stuff that people don't routinely see. So that's what I'm most proud of as a coach.”


The Biggest Looming Decision for Every NFL Team - Maurice Motion, Bleacher Report
The Cowboys still have a lot of decisions to make when it comes to building this 2018 version of the team, but which verdict will be the most instrumental? Bleacher Report goes through each team and identifies the biggest pending decision for each NFL team. What did they pick for Dallas?

It's the trade we're all waiting for...well, some of us.

For those in favor of the Dallas Cowboys acquiring safety Earl Thomas from the Seattle Seahawks, there's good news—ESPN.com's Todd Archer doesn't see finances as a holdup on a potential deal for Thomas:

"The Cowboys can give Thomas the moon if they want. They don't have any salary-cap limitations. According to ESPN Stats & Information, they have $14.8 million in cap room…the Cowboys can structure contracts in a way to make Thomas the highest-paid safety in the game if they want to. The question is: Would they want to? Do not dismiss the possibility of them thinking about a trade without a long-term commitment from Thomas."

It's no secret Thomas wants a new deal or a move elsewhere. The Cowboys don't have entrenched starters at safety after Byron Jones' shift back to cornerback. Of course, we also remember Thomas tracking down head coach Jason Garrett following Dallas' Week 16 loss to Seattle last year to express his interest in donning the starred helmet.

Dallas shouldn't do whatever it takes to pull off a trade. However, if it's able to execute a deal involving anything less than a first-round pick, it's a reasonable exchange. The Cowboys allowed 28 touchdowns through the air and only logged 10 interceptions last year.


From the FanPosts

Our FanPost section is where Blogging The Boys members have the opportunity to write their own posts about the Cowboys. Take a little time to write a post about your thoughts regarding the Dallas Cowboys, and there’s a chance it will be linked right here in our morning News roundup.

It's time - Jeber, Blogging The Boys
BTB-member Jeber looks at the 1/2/10 Builder Warranty and and comes up with an interesting hypothesis about the time frame NFL teams operate in.

Each NFL team really operates with three windows in mind. I look at it in terms of a 12/5/3 years.

The first is the QB window. If you have a franchise QB, your window into the playoffs is likely to be open every year for a decade or more. We've seen New England, Pittsburgh, Green Bay and a few others operate with this dynamic in mind. All three have a franchise QB. All seem to be in contention every year. Their foundation and structure is in place.

[The second is the] intermediate window that has to be satisfied with the solidification of a key position group. My personal opinion is that you need this to be your OL and to a lesser extent some type of skeletal framework on your defense.

[The third is] the splash signing. Something that tips the scales for the next 2 or 3 seasons. A short-term play that brings it all together. Charles Haley and Thomas Everett come to mind here.

Jeber argues that the Cowboys can check off the first two windows. Which leaves the third window to be addressed by - you guessed it - Earl Thomas (and/or Aaron Donald).