It has begun for the Dallas Cowboys. OK, the rookie minicamp is literally baby steps, but yesterday marked the first real day of the Cowboys march to the 2019 NFL season. It is the first look the staff has at the newest members of the team, even if most of them will not make it to the 53-man roster.
This is used by the staff for teaching and introducing the Cowboys’ schemes and plays to the new players. There are walk-throughs, but no work by the offense against the defense. Right now, the biggest goal is helping the rookies handle the flood of new information while adjusting to their new life. There are also several “first-year” players who get to attend despite not being rookies, mostly based on them not being on a 53-man roster last year. They benefit from the extra work, and are all fighting for a chance to stick with Dallas after training camp.
WR Reggie Davis, CB Donovan Olumba, LB Kyle Queiro, RB Jordan Chunn, LS Drew Scott, OT Jake Campos, DT Shakir Soto, TE Cody McElroy
DT Trysten Hill, G/C Connor McGovern, RB Tony Pollard, CB Mike Jackson, DE Joe Jackson, S Donovan Wilson, RB Mike Weber, DE Jalen Jelks
Undrafted Free Agents:
CB Chris Westry, LB Nate Hall, LB Justin Phillips, LB Andrew Dowell, LB Luke Gifford, OT Derek Puni, G Larry Allen Jr., OT Mitch Hyatt, DE Daniel Wise, DE Ricky Walker, OT Brandon Knight, WR Jon’vea Johnson, WR Jalen Guyton
QB Phillip Nelson, FB Joe Protheroe
Now, it is hard to derive true intelligence about what the team is up to, but a few things stood out to me.
First, there were only two players invited in for tryouts, at least to start. The team could always add more, but it was interesting that they brought in a fullback. That looks to be as much to let them be able to put the offense on the field to practice sets involving the FB as anything. Joe Prothereo is no doubt dreaming of breaking through, but given the three-year deal the Cowboys gave Jamize Olawale, it is highly doubtful that the newbie has any real shot at all.
Phillip Nelson is in the same situation, given that it is rather hard to do anything at all without a quarterback in the mix. But unlike Prothereo, Nelson could have a shot at getting invited back for camp. Dallas really needs a fourth arm for camp to keep from overworking the three QBs already on the roster. It will cost someone else a shot, of course, but such is the reality of the 90-man camp limit. And Nelson needs to make a good impression, because the team can easily find a vet looking for a chance to show what he has to take that role.
Also interesting is who was not added to the mix. There was no place kicker, and it is almost certain that one will have to be brought in for the same reason they need one more passer. And that will be something to watch in camp, because we all remember what happened last year when Brett Maher unexpectedly supplanted Dan Bailey. But there is no reason to try to identify one in the minicamp, since a kicker’s tryout doesn’t require any other players other than a holder and long snapper - and can be done without even that, since a coach could hold the ball for him. It does raise the question of just what they will do with long snapper Drew Scott, since they don’t have a punter in the mix, either. He may have to do a lot of work by himself, although they could practice some special teams sets without actually having a punter or kicker back there for him.
And the Cowboys are just using one tight end in Codey McElroy for this. That may not be any real indication, but for some of us (waves hand in the air), it offers a tiny bit more hope that we are going to see some real changes under offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. It would seem to indicate that they aren’t going to do much if anything with “heavy” sets in this rookie camp. And it might be a sign that the team will only carry five TEs into Oxnard, which just fuels the idea that things will be a bit more wide open under Moore, with perhaps only three on the 53-man roster.
There won’t be much coverage out of the practices, and as mentioned, it is not going to be a heavy workload, at least from the physical aspect. But we will eagerly wait for any and all tidbits, no matter how small. It’s football! (Sorta.)
Meanwhile, you might enjoy this clip from the mothership of the new draftees talking about coming to the Cowboys.
Members of the #DallasCowboys 2019 draft class share their thoughts on arriving at @thestarinfrisco and describe how they believe they will best fit in with the team. #EarnTheStar pic.twitter.com/xWs3AoR8yz— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) May 10, 2019
And here are some reactions from after practice.