Hardwork and opportunity: How rookie RB Tony Pollard has become the most ‘exciting’ player at Cowboys training camp - David Moore, SportsDay
With Ezekiel Elliott holding out of training camp, each of the running backs are getting extra reps. Tony Pollard is getting more time with he 1s, and he is making the most of it so far.
What player has caught the eye of teammates and coaches? What new addition has jumped out?
The same player keeps getting mentioned.
“Tony Pollard has done a real nice job out there,’’ executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “He’s getting a little bit of everything.
”He’s probably one that has stuck out for me if I were going to pick one.’’
“One of the most exciting players to me of this training camp,’’ quarterback Dak Prescott said of Pollard. “The things that he’s been able to do running the ball, catching the ball out of the backfield. He’s making plays.
”And he’s really an intelligent dude. A really smart guy. When we’re in the offense, or in the offensive unit, or in the team meetings, anytime coach calls him out on his responsibility, without a hesitation he’s getting that right.
”That’s what you want to see from a young guy.’’
It was bound to happen, with the same players hitting the same guys day after day, a fight was bound to happen. There was a mini-skirmish at practice, but it doesn’t sound like much.
It took 10 practices for the first scuffle of training camp. La’el Collins and rookie Trysten Hill traded a few swings (none connecting) after Hill went to the ground rushing against the veteran right tackle. Players quickly broke up the skirmish and practice moved forward without issues. “That’s one thing about football. You hit each other enough, it’ll come out,” Collins said afterward.
On to more important news, Travis Frederick is finally mixing it up in 1-on-1 drills.
Center Travis Frederick has been held out of one-on-one pass rush drills as he works his way back to full practice for the first time in a year. Wednesday he got his first rep in the drill, holding his own against starting defensive tackle Antwaun Woods.
Mickey wants to remind us that when you’re thinking of contact numbers for the likes of Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and Ezekiel Elliott, don’t get confused. It’s really all about the guaranteed money.
So the point here is, don’t get bamboozled by those inflated numbers bloated by non-guaranteed base salaries, non-guaranteed roster bonuses, incentives and escalators. And see, what teams are doing is giving up smaller signing bonuses so the proration does not eat into their salary cap if a player is released, and are using roster bonuses that don’t prorate over the course of the deal, some guaranteed, some not. Word to the wise: Always find out first what’s guaranteed.
Maybe this gives you a better idea of what real market value is.
As Brett Maher’s struggles continue, are the Cowboys primed for a repeat of last year’s kicking competition? - Calvin Watkins, SportsDay
By now, everybody is realizing that the kicking situation in camp isn’t very settled.
Over a two-day span, Maher missed kicks from 32 and 33 yards, easy kicks during the lazy summer days of training camp. Out of the 10 training camp practices so far, Maher has been perfect on all his kicks just once.
”We’re going to miss kicks, it is part of the business,” Maher said. “But at the same time I don’t go out there ever wanting to miss and it never feels good when you do miss. I think I could have been sharper and more on point, that’s one of those things that’s tougher as camp wears on, and I need to do a better job of staying in the moment and taking advantage of each opportunity.”
If you think people are overreacting, the ending of the 2018 season already had raised concerns about Maher. He went 5-for-8 in the last four weeks of the regular season, missing kicks from 34, 45 and 48 yards. In the postseason he went 1-for-2, missing from 58. So if you count the late portions of the regular season and this training camp start, Maher has just been okay.
Ranking NFL rosters by their under-25 talent. The Cowboys fall a bit from last year.
#11 Dallas Cowboys
2018 ranking: 9
Blue-chip players: Leighton Vander Esch, OLB; Ezekiel Elliott, RB
Notable graduated players: Amari Cooper, WR
As I write this, one half of the Cowboys’ duo of blue-chip under-25 players has yet to report to camp. And if Elliott holds out into the regular season or lands the long-term extension he wants, he will sabotage the value the past two years of his rookie contract would otherwise represent. But as productive as Elliott is -- he added 201 DYAR as a rusher and a receiver last year -- running backs don’t dramatically move the needle of team value. Linebacker Vander Esch is the clear driver of the Cowboys’ No. 11 under-25 ranking. He slotted just between the game’s preeminent middle linebackers in Bobby Wagner (5.4%) and Luke Kuechly (7.4%) with a 6.6% broken tackle rate and looks like the steal of the first round of the 2018 draft at pick No. 19.
Beyond Elliott and Vander Esch, the Cowboys have a lot of young potential. Left guard Connor Williams allowed a respectable 4.5 sacks in 689 snaps over 10 starts in his rookie season. Defensive tackle Maliek Collins had seven defeats and allowed just 0.1 yards per carry on his run tackles, best at the position. Middle linebacker Jaylon Smith had more combined run stops and defeats than Vander Esch. Smith also allowed more than twice as many broken tackles and struggled in coverage, as did cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and free safety Xavier Woods. Still, they are three capable starters under 25 years old who should help the Cowboys still-young core -- Amari Cooper, Dak Prescott and DeMarcus Lawrence will be 25, 26, and 27 this season -- try to extend their streak of finishes over .500 to four straight seasons.
Dak, Zeke, Amari contracts not only ones Dallas Cowboys have to worry about - Clarence Hill Jr. Star-Telegram
The Cowboys need to pay the new triplets, but they also have some other guys who’d like a raise.
Cornerback Byron Jones and right tackle La’el Collins are free agents at the end of the season. The team will wait until Jones recovers from off-season hip surgery and proves himself again before even discussing a contract extension.
The Cowboys will likely let Collins walk in free agency, understanding what he can command on the market and knowing they are already paying top positional dollars to tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick and guard Zack Martin.
Linebacker Jaylon Smith will be a restricted free agent after the season, so the Cowboys have two more years before giving him a contract extension.