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Cowboys News: Dallas holds virtual interview with Wisconsin’s Zack Baun

Plus, why Dak keeps working out with Dez

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 07 Big Ten Championship Game Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Wisconsin LB Zack Baun interviews with Cowboys ahead of 2020 NFL Draft - Todd Brock, Cowboys Wire

In the age of the coronavirus, the NFL has had to make some adjustments on the fly, starting with holding a virtual draft. This has also affected the Cowboys when it comes to pre-draft visits, and they showed a glimpse of that change as they held a virtual meeting with a potential draft target.

The Cowboys have pulled back the curtain just a bit further on their 2020 draft preparations. On Tuesday, the team’s social media department released a highlight package from their recent virtual interview with Wisconsin’s Zack Baun.

The outside linebacker was a first-team All-American and first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2019. It was the Wisconsin native’s senior season as a Badger after a high school career that saw him excel at basketball and track as well as several positions on the football field.

The athletically-gifted Baun may not even remain at linebacker, according to some. It’s thought that with some added bulk, the 6-foot-2-inch Baun could become a nasty edge rusher. Whatever position he lines up at, Baun is, in the parlance of new Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy, a football player. Perhaps that versatility helped convince owner Jerry Jones, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, linebacker coach Scott McCurley, Klein Kubiak from the scouting department, and others to also jump on the group Webex with the talented Butkus Award finalist.

What Cowboys QB Dak Is Texting About A Dez Bryant Comeback - Mike Fisher, Cowboy Maven

Dak Prescott has been working out with Dez Bryant the last few days, which would be a normal thing to read three years ago but is somewhat surprising now. Could this lead to reunion for the former first-round wide receiver?

Does this change the fact that the Dallas Cowboys have not met as a staff on the subject of a Dez Bryant return to the team, according to two sources, one labeling the concept “a back-burner issue’’? It does not.

Does it accelerate the possibility of Bryant once again becoming a Cowboy, a dream that seemed dead when he was released by the team two years ago and then tore his Achilles that winter after signing with the Saints? No, not yet, it hasn’t.

Is it verification of where Dez is physically (though not mentally, which Bryant will be the first to acknowledge is part of this evaluation, too)? That it is. But ...

Note Dak’s very careful wording, and note Broaddus’ as well. The QB doesn’t go so far as to recommend to his employer, the Dallas Cowboys, that Bryant “looks good and should be back with this team.’’ His evaluation is that Bryant “looks good and should be back with a team.’’

New Cowboys pass rusher Aldon Smith up to nearly 290 pounds after four-year hiatus from NFL - Cody Benjamin, CBS Sports

Aldon Smith’s return to the NFL certainly caught a lot of people by surprise. While many of the concerns revolve around Smith’s off the field issues, there were also questions about his physical readiness. That’s been laid to rest, though, as Smith has been keeping in shape quite well.

If and when Aldon Smith actually makes his return to an NFL field, the former San Francisco 49ers All-Pro will probably look a little different. According to Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, who helped train the new Dallas Cowboys addition during his comeback attempt, the former first-round draft pick is up to nearly 290 pounds after his four-year hiatus from professional football.

Smith has yet to officially be reinstated by the NFL, but CBS Sports previously reported the Cowboys expect NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to grant the 30-year-old new eligibility following a 2015 suspension that kept him sidelined for an additional four full seasons. With a significantly larger frame, the former Pro Bowler could very well see time outside of his traditional outside linebacker or defensive end roles, or at least just bring more power to those spots.

How The Cowboys Can Handle An Install Remotely - David Helman,

This part of the offseason is crucial for teams with new head coaches, as it gives the new staff a chance to install their schemes and culture. For Mike McCarthy and his staff, not being able to meet in person has presented a unique challenge. But Zack Martin explains that they’re overcoming it regardless.

“That part of it is tough, not going in to see the guys every day – especially with us having a new coach and kind of getting to know the new staff,” said Zack Martin. “I know we’re going to start doing some Zoom meetings to try to get our install in, but it’s definitely been a lot different so far.”

If the Cowboys were carrying over the same coaching staff, Martin said the challenge likely wouldn’t be as big. But with an all new staff, new terminology and new concepts, he and his teammates will have their work cut out for them.

”We start our virtual meetings this week, so we’ll see how that goes and how much we can get done over the computer. But it’s definitely going to be a challenge,” he said. “A lot of the plays universally are the same, it’s more the terminology and the concepts of how the new staff teaches things. That’s going to be the tough part to learn.”

Cowboys poised for breakout seasons in 2020: Blake Jarwin, three others set to make the leap - Patrik Walker, CBS Sports

Each new year in the NFL brings with it the opportunity for some players on each team to break out and make a name for themselves, and with a new way of doing things in Dallas, there are plenty of breakout candidates for the Cowboys.

It’s easy for some to forget the fact Woods was the 191st-overall selection for the Cowboys in 2017, and mostly because he’s become a definitive NFL starter and makes his presence known on the field far more often than he doesn’t.

Playing in the backfield of a takeaway-starved Dallas defense, Woods hasn’t played a single season in which he didn’t land an interception, having five in first three years — including two in each of the last couple. He’s had near misses that could’ve easily raised that tally, and Woods also logged a career-best 77 combined tackles in 2019 with 52 of them being solo.

He now enters a contract year that will see him playing beside another proven starter in Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and the tandem could see Woods explode in 2020. If Clinton-Dix can again find the form that made him an All-Pro safety with head coach Mike McCarthy in their time together in Green Bay, opposing teams won’t be able to avoid targeting Woods. That could legitimately lead to more interceptions, more forced fumbles (he had two in 2019 alone) and an overall banner year.

3 Dallas Cowboys Snubbed From the 2010s All-Decade Team - Shane Carter, Inside the Star

The NFL announced on Monday their 2010s All-Decade team, and the Cowboys saw Tyron Smith and Zack Martin named to the list. There were plenty of other highly productive Cowboys players who arguably deserved recognition though.

Back when the Cowboys ran a 3-4 defense DeMarcus Ware was the best edge rusher in the game. For his consideration on the All-Decade should be his time on the Cowboys and Broncos, where he was among the best players in the league.

If we just look at his time in the decade from 2010 to 2016 he had 12 forced fumbles, 74 sacks and 91 tackles for loss all while being invited to five Pro Bowls as well as an All-Pro selection.

Remember too that Ware was selected to the NFL’s 2000’s All-Decade team. In that time he had less sacks, tackles for loss, and Pro Bowl selections than he did in the past decade. It only makes sense to reward him for an ever better decade than the last one.

2020 NFL Draft: Dallas Cowboys three-round mock looks safety first - Tyrone Starr, The Landry Hat

The Cowboys managed to fill some holes on their roster through free agency but holes still exist at several areas, including defensive end. Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith are promising but unknown commodities, so drafting a pass rusher could be in the cards.

Curtis Weaver, EDGE – Boise State

This one checks a lot of boxes for the Dallas Cowboys. As I wrote on Sunday, the defensive pass rush still needs some help, regardless of whatever Aldon Smith and Randy Gregory bring to the table.

Weaver would also be another in the long list of talent piped in from Boise State University. If Dallas were to make this choice and also keep defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford for the 2020 season, Weaver would make the seventh player on the roster from the school.

Most importantly, however, the dude flat out balled on the “Smurf Turf.” In three seasons, Weaver amassed 47.5 tackles for loss, 34.0 sacks, three forced fumbles, and two interceptions. Adding Weaver to the mix along the line would certainly boost the Cowboys’ pass-rushing potential.

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