The Dallas Cowboys are just over a week away from beginning their regular season on the road against the Los Angeles Rams. They are just a few days away from having to set their 53-man roster (keep track of every move right here).
The team reportedly cancelled practice on Wednesday and began trimming down their roster. As this is the first season under Mike McCarthy what he wants and has to say is obviously a subject of fascination and interest.
Coach McCarthy took to the podium on Wednesday and offered up his most recent thoughts. We have put together a recap of all the things that he had to say. A reminder that all answers are paraphrased and not actual quotes.
Cuts so far and McCarthy’s philosophy on making them
Mike McCarthy declined to get into anything “official” as far as roster cuts that have been reported. He acknowledged that they are obviously at the point in the process where they have to make decisions and determine where they need to end up.
He also noted that they are trying to get a jump on preparation for the Los Angeles Rams game next Sunday.
Message on being careful with COVID
Obviously we are living in unprecedented times given the climate of Covid-19. Many Cowboys players have said that the healthiest team could be the one that stands the best chance of winning the Super Bowl. As far as what the Cowboys are doing to instruct their players on how to be careful going out in the world McCarthy noted that education and knowledge are key.
He noted that the biggest thing is the discipline of wearing a mask, he also mentioned physical separation.
Thoughts on wearing a mask on the sideline
McCarthy noted that wearing a mask throughout the duration of a football game will obviously be different and said that he needs to start doing it during practice so he can get used to it. He reiterated that there are a number of rules and regulations that continue to be worked on and that they must get used to their new normal.
General philosophy of the benefits of earlier releases
Rosters don’t have to be set until Saturday at 4 PM ET. In spite of this, the Cowboys have reportedly made some moves already so it is fair to wonder why a team wouldn’t take every second possible to think on it.
McCarthy noted that the timeline of this year is obviously different and unique and that that presents a different reality. He noted that you have to trust your instinct and awareness. He also noted the practice squad is different this year so that also affects setting the roster.
QB adjustments with no preseason, specifically with no contact
Asked if there were any adjustments made to the practice periods given the lack of preseason, McCarthy didn’t go into too much detail but noted that he is comfortable with the way that the Cowboys are practicing. This included a lack of contact for Dak Prescott and the other quarterbacks. He noted that most coaches have coached in the world of college at some point and that there is no preseason there.
He did say that at the end of the day your team needs to look a certain way and that is what he is working towards.
How the Cowboys have handled Amari Cooper’s snaps
Amari Cooper’s status has been a curious one as of late and McCarthy noted that there is mathematical information that goes into where they think he, or any player, is individually. He kept it vague and noted that there are a variety of factors that go into the way they are approaching him. He did say specifically on a question about injury, that every player has a little something at training camp. He cited the weather and artificial turf among things they have done to adjust their schedule and player reps.
Chido Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis health status
Veteran cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis have been missing for some time. McCarthy kept it vague once again but did say Chido was doing well and should see him back sooner than later, but that he didn’t expect to see Jourdan Lewis this week.
Progress from Trevon Diggs
As a result of injuries at cornerback there has been a thought that rookie Trevon Diggs could see more than anticipated early on. McCarthy noted that Trevon was finding his way early on but has looked solid to this point. He said that you have to close the gap between your younger players and your older players and that as much as you can afford to rep those guys together it helps to close that gap quicker. He noted that getting over the mental gap is the biggest thing for young players.
First thing to accomplish is tempo
Coach said that establishing the tempo and game speed in practice is a very important thing and that he feels like the Cowboys have done this over the last 10-12 days. He said that he thought the pace of practice on Sunday was good but that it was even better on Monday. He added that this was by design to “really push the team two days in a row.”
Fusing his offense and the one Kellen Moore already had here
McCarthy noted the process is similar to most staff changes and trying to incorporate two systems. He said systematically it’s what he’s always run. They wanted to build off the language that was here. He went on to emphasize that Kellen Moore is the coordinator and play-caller, and he as to be comfortable with the installation
Asked if he has empowered coaches more in the here and now than he did in Green Bay, McCarthy said that he certainly has over the second half of his career. He noted that when he looks back on his early years in Green Bay that he has realized now how great collaboration can be among staff members.
Coach noted that he has been a fan of Sean Lee since The General was in high school, so he has a firm grasp on what the linebacker can do. He did say that Lee is fighting through “a physical situation” but that he means a lot to the team.
Asked when he anticipates Sean practicing he simply said he does not see him practicing tomorrow.
He also noted that they are hopeful that Xavier Woods could practice tomorrow.
What he has learned about Dak
Asked what he’s learned about Dak Prescott that he didn’t know before he arrived with the Cowboys, McCarthy noted that he really likes Dak’s personality. He commended Prescott’s leadership and noted that he was told about that as well. He said that Dak can walk into any room and be part of any conversation which he feels is a tremendous compliment towards him.
Dalton Schultz’s skillset
Many have focused on Blake Jarwin, but Dalton Schultz should play a large role this season. McCarthy noted that Schultz has a lot of versatility and that he is really looking forward to the tight end position this year. He specifically mentioned working in the backfield and being placed as a receiver and noted that Dalton has those things. He commended his progress in the passing game.
Biggest thing for rookies
Coach noted that rookies always experience an “I belong” moment but that at the end of the day you just want to see them show their skillset as the season begins.