The first week of the Cowboys organized team activities are in the bag. It was good to finally see the players get out and do some football stuff and there will be more of that coming over the next couple weeks. But after these first few days of action, what are some things that stood out? Here are 10 thoughts on the first week of OTA’s for the Cowboys.
1. Trysten Hill has got “generational-type athleticism”
If you are still confused by the Cowboys decision to select defensive tackle Trysten Hill over the plethora of safeties that were still available at pick 58, then you might want to listen to defensive backs/passing game coordinator Kris Richard explain it. The Cowboys coach said that Hill’s got “generational-type athleticism, just freakish ability.” He said, “it’s hard to pass on a guy of that nature.” Richard continued, expressing “it’s a big man’s game” and that “it’s hard to pass up big for little.”
There is no denying the Cowboys place an emphasis on winning in the trenches. Besides using their top draft resource to grab Hill, three of the team’s six highest paid players are along the defensive line. The coaches love the upside Hill brings to this Cowboys defense.
2. Kellen Moore’s “evolution” of the offense
There isn’t anything more exciting than a fresh new offensive mind after the Cowboys struggles a year ago. There were many different reasons for the team’s shortcomings on offense, but the ineffectiveness of Scott Linehan’s play-calling weighed them down.
It’s Kellen Moore’s offense now, and the excitement continues to build as his changes have people buzzing around camp. The addition of new weapons adds a level of versatility to the offense that allows Moore to do a lot of different things. He’s changing up formations to confuse the defense, and is even using new language. Honestly, we don’t care if he has everyone speaking Dothraki as long as it means more touchdowns for this offense.
3. Jason Witten is stronger and faster
Everyone is worried about what the effects of being out of the game for a year would do to Jason Witten, but we should probably put those worries aside. The guy’s been over the hill for years now, but it’s never stopped him from producing on Sundays. But just in case you have your reservations, it might be a good time to tell you that Witten’s strength and conditioning numbers this year are actually better than they were before he retired.
This is great news and points more and more to the idea that Witten will continue to find a way to help this football team. That’s so Witten.
4. Year two Gallup
Remember when this was happening quite a bit?
Michael Gallup smoked Eli Apple here. Dak overthrew him. pic.twitter.com/NHCAV3GPp9— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) November 30, 2018
It was frustrating that Dak Prescott miss a wide open Michael Gallup as much as he did last year. Things did start to improve as the season progressed. After just one touchdown catch through the first 14 games of the season, Gallup caught passes for scores in the next three games, and came a few inches of making it four.
The chemistry between these two continues to improve and Dak’s already connecting well with Gallup in OTA’s. While the Cowboys wide receiver situation was all out of sorts at this time last year, things are quite different now.
5. The Pollard excitement is real
The Cowboys already have a star running back, but the upcoming season marks the first time since Ezekiel Elliott’s been on the team that the Cowboys plan on giving a healthy dose of touches to another running back. That is all thanks to the dynamic rookie, Tony Pollard.
That’s not to say this will resemble anything close to a committee, but if the team has a player who can provide a spark to the offense all while keeping their prized running back fresh, why wouldn’t they find ways to get him the ball? And with a new offensive coordinator at the helm, this could be the year things start to really open up. And if Pollard finds space to run, that’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.
One of the highlights of team drills today: Rookie RB Tony Pollard with a big run weaving in and out of defenders all the way to the end zone. Ezekiel Elliott was impressed, yelling and running about 50 yards to celebrate with Pollard— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) May 22, 2019
6. They aren’t going to miss Cole Beasley
It’s easier to say arrivederci to Cole Beasley after his remarks in the media have been anything but pleasant toward his former team. What makes it genuinely easier is just how well former Green Bay Packers Randall Cobb is fitting in with the offense. Cobb has been very quick in drills and his experience is going to allow the offense to use him in a multitude of ways. Wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal explains:
“He’s smart enough to play every position. We’ll keep him at one position but use multiple formations with him outside, inside, in the backfield. We can put him anywhere, because he is that guy. He’s smart.”
7. Don’t throw dirt on Jourdan Lewis just yet
Richard’s affinity for big corners has put Jourdan Lewis on the outside looking in when it comes to earning a starting spot. While the physicality of the position carries a lot of weight, athleticism still looms large and as Bryan Broaddus explains, let’s not count Lewis out just yet...
It’s never easy to have to deal with Randall Cobb out of the slot, but give Jourdan Lewis a lot of credit for denying him the ball on a dig route. Cobb did his best to attempt to shake loose from Lewis, but he never allowed him to get away. Lewis was physical off the line. As the route went up the field and when Cobb made his break, Lewis was right there to knock the ball away from him without interfering. I’m just thinking that we all might need to be careful throwing dirt on Jourdan Lewis – the guy is a heck of a player.
8. Hyder could be a sneaky player to keep an eye on
When Kerry Hyder was signed in free agency, fans felt it was a solid move. But after the trade for Robert Quinn and drafting two young edge rushers in Joe Jackson and Jalen Jelks, Hyder’s place on the team doesn’t seem as secure as before. But don’t sleep on this veteran pass rusher.
The Cowboys are playing him on the edge, which is where he does his best work. The Detroit Lions misused him last season playing him inside and he was ineffective. However, the last season he played defensive end, he recorded eight sacks. Hyder is already showing great burst off the snap and is displaying an assortment of pass rushing moves. The way things are going so far, Hyder’s not looking to just find a spot on the roster, but rather find a nice spot in the rotation.
9. Do the Cowboys have another UDFA gem at wide receiver?
For the last 12 years, the Dallas Cowboys have had at least one of their undrafted free agent wide receivers on the roster. This is largely in part due to Miles Austin and Cole Beasley. That streak would continue if one of this year’s priority free agent WR - Jon’Vea Johnson or Jalen Guyton finds a way to make the team. The receiver from Toledo is off to a promising start as Lal had some early praise for the rookie.
Not a surprise because we loved his film, but Jon’Vea these last two days, his speed and athleticism and how smooth he is has shown here almost a little bit earlier than we thought it would, because we think he’s going to process. Most young guys are thinking a lot. He’s done a good job of learning his plays, and coming out and showing what he can do.
It would be nice to have that type of speed on the offense, but can the rookie be route-disciplined enough to earn a spot on the 53? He seems to think so.
Rookie WR Jon'Vea Johnson said the Cowboys showed him the most love during the pre-draft process, so it was a "no-brainer" to sign with them. "I want to be the guy to take the top off the defense, a speedster guy. I think I got a really good chance of making this team."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) May 11, 2019
10. Taking advantage of an opportunity
With several veteran players unavailable, this opens the door for some of the younger guys to strut their stuff. No Tyron Smith or Cameron Fleming meant we got our first glimpse of Connor Williams at left tackle. And with DeMarcus Lawrence expected to miss a lot of time recovering from shoulder surgery - who’s going to get the extra defensive end reps? So far, that honor went to Dorance Armstrong. Of course, guys like Taco Charlton, Randy Gregory and Tyrone Crawford weren’t available.
All these extra chances open doors. Last year, Antwaun Woods benefited from extra chances thanks to the unavailability of David Irving and Maliek Collins. The next thing you know, Woods is starting all but one game of the Cowboys season.
Which player do you think will take an opportunity and run with it?