With less than 20 practices remaining before the season opener, new head coach Mike McCarthy answered questions via conference call on Saturday, including what he thought of his new first-round wide receiver.
Lamb is projected to be a top-three receiver on offense and he’s a candidate on punt returns, too. The Cowboys have had only one camp practice so far in shells – the players had the day off Saturday – but McCarthy said Lamb “has picked it up seamlessly” in the classroom and on the field. “CeeDee looks very natural out there,” McCarthy said.
“He had a big play in the team period (Friday). He’s definitely shown the ability to play all three spots in the receiver position, and we’ll see what goes on with punt return and those types of things. But he looks very, very natural on the football field. Excited about him.”
The rookie is turning heads already, and one of those heads is the guy who will be throwing him the ball this season.
On Wednesday, his quarterback singled out his enthusiasm for helping out in the oft-maligned “third phase” of the game.
“Great guy, great athlete, great player,” Prescott raved about Lamb at the press conference that opened camp this week. “Excited for his future, excited for now and everything he can bring this offense now and, man, many years to go. He’s very smart, very talented, as I said, and he wants to learn, whether it’s following [Amari] Coop[er] or asking me questions or asking MG [Michael Gallup].
Or today, I heard him talk about how fun special teams was. He’s going to be a great addition to this team and play a huge role in our success immediately and in the future. I couldn’t be happier with that pick and couldn’t be happier with the guy that he is, the young man he is.” Lamb seems to have made an similar impression on several of the veteran players by the time Friday’s work session was over.
Why new DE Everson Griffen could be Cowboys’ best one-year difference-maker yet - Bob Sturm, The Athletic
The Cowboys have been doing a nice job with these one-year rentals, but could Griffen be the best one yet?
McCarthy knows the issues Griffen creates on the edge against even the best left tackles; Green Bay’s David Bakhtiari is the Tyron Smith of his organization. The two are widely considered two of the very best in the business and Griffen has given them both fits. Edwards knows how much trouble might be involved. If they both saw a chance to grab a difference-making bargain, that should be all we need to hear.
To be fair, the Cowboys were really hoping that Aldon Smith or Randy Gregory could have a huge 2020 despite neither playing a down in 2019. But either would be considered a leap of faith; Griffen requires none of that. When last we saw him, he was a problem in the NFL playoffs for Terron Armstead and Larry Warford, overpowering both Saints linemen to get in on 1 1/2 sacks in that playoff win. He has been doing this for years.
If anyone knows about how good Griffen is, it’s McCarthy.
Player with most sacks against McCarthy in last decade is the same guy with the most TFL's against McCarthy in the last decade. pic.twitter.com/bCFI5sBSH5— Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm) August 14, 2020
Mike McCarthy impressed with Aldon Smith early in Cowboys camp: ‘He’s off to a great start’ - Jeff Kerr, CBS Sports
And while all the hype surrounds Everson Griffen after his signing, it’s another edge rusher impressing the head coach.
Through the first few practices, Smith has left an impression on McCarthy that indicates the Cowboys have a larger role for him on the defensive line than initially expected. ”He looks great. He’s probably about 20 pounds bigger than when I last saw him play for the 49ers. Very powerful. His length is extraordinary,” McCarthy said, via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News.
“He made a play in the team period on a screen you don’t see every day — that’s for sure. ”He’s off to a great start. I mean, he’s hit the target in every phase that we gone through, particularly in the strength and conditioning.”
Smith is expected to rotate at defensive end, which features DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford and eventually Everson Griffen, who signed earlier in the week but has not been cleared to practice yet since he has to pass the COVID-19 tests before getting on the field.
With the talent this defensive line group has, the personnel arrangements are endless.
The defensive line rotation could feature Griffen and Smith on the right side opposite DeMarcus Lawrence. Returning from 2019 hip surgery, Tyrone Crawford could play any position on the line, whether it’s rotating at both defensive end spots or teaming with McCoy and the 346-pound Poe inside.
Young defensive ends such as Dorance Armstrong, Joe Jackson, Jalen Jelks and fifth-round pick Bradlee Anae will compete for snaps. The possibilities are many, and the depth and size up front should help linebackers Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee roam and chase plays.
Finally, the Cowboys are starting to see how the revamped front seven and secondary fits on the field. Griffen will only make them better.
Aldon Smith had a career-high 19.5 sacks in 2012 when his defensive line coach was Jim Tomsula.— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) August 15, 2020
Everson Griffen had a career-high 13 sacks in 2017 when his defensive coordinator was George Edwards.
Fun fact: Tomsula and Edwards are now coaching in Dallas.
(h/t: @robphillips3 )
New Cowboys safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix says reuniting with Mike McCarthy in Dallas ‘is a blessing’ - Calvin Watkins, Dallas Morning News
The veteran safety has been on the move a lot in recent years, but now’s he back with a familiar face.
In 2014, Clinton-Dix was a first-round pick of the Green Bay Packers, but in October of 2018 he was traded to Washington. He then signed with Chicago for the 2019 season, and after getting let go he was signed by the Cowboys this offseason.
“Just trying to find my home, I think,” Clinton-Dix said as to why he’s bounced around. “After leaving Green Bay, I had a great time in Green Bay, going down to Washington where I was not familiar, didn’t know anything. And having a chance to play in Chicago with a great defense. A great coaching staff and I kinda got my feet back up underneath me. And [now] I had the option to come and play for Coach Mike [McCarthy], a guy who is familiar with me, he knows me, he drafted me, man. This is a blessing and a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The Cowboys new safety has good things to say about the Cowboys new cornerback.
The Cowboys are looking to replace one of the best cornerbacks in all of football, as Byron Jones went to Miami in free agency this offseason. For the most part they will be doing so with some young guns who have had ups and downs in the league, but Diggs is the sleeper to steal the show. With training camp finally opening up around the NFL, Diggs is already earning compliments from his fellow secondary members.
Newest Cowboys safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix spoke highly of Diggs, saying that he’s a confident player who “knows how to do it and wants to do it.”
Clinton-Dix also noted that Diggs is “long,” something secondary coach Al Harris referenced when discussing the Cowboys approach to drafting cornerbacks back in April. At 6’1″ and just under 200 pounds, Diggs will have minimal issues matching up physically at the next level.
Daryl Worley adds versatility, size for Cowboys in crafty late FA signing - Ben Grimaldi, Cowboys Wire
Overshadowed by several splashy free agent signings, Worley is often overlooked even though he could challenge for a starting corner spot.
In his first two years with the Panthers, Worley intercepted three passes and broke up 19, playing primarily as their starting RCB before he was traded to the Eagles. Worley has been a member of the Raiders for the past two seasons and has played admirably, mostly on the left side. Last season, the veteran CB had eight passes defended, a tackle for a loss, and an interception in 15 games. Worley has five career interceptions, with at least one in each of his four seasons.
If the Cowboys were looking to create more turnovers, Worley does get his hands on a lot of passes.
Some updates on a couple players that are ailing...
Mike McCarthy wouldn't get into specifics, but confirmed La'el Collins is working through some sort of injury. He added that it's "nothing serious," though.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) August 15, 2020
MM also said Dontari Poe looks good, footwork is excellent, getting close to coming off the PUP.— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) August 15, 2020
Cam Erving wasn't at practice yesterday. Mike McCarthy says he's dealing with an illness, but not something long-term.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) August 15, 2020
It’s training camp season. Let’s talk about it.
Make sure that you never miss an episode from Blogging The Boys by subscribing to the Blogging The Boys podcast feed!
Also make sure to subscribe to the official YouTube Channel from Blogging The Boys.