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Cowboys news: Special teams are important, and C.J. Goodwin is a key cog in the Cowboys plans

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Dallas Cowboys v New York Jets Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images

Goodwin ‘Takes Pride’ In His Special Role - Nick Eatman, The Mothership

Special teams play has kept C.J. Goodwin in the NFL, so he works his craft.

As for Goodwin, his role is a bit different now than it was a few years ago in Atlanta. After signing with the Cowboys again this year, he returns as the special teams ace.

It was an easy decision on my part. We just had to come to the agreement,” Goodwin said of his decision to re-sign with Dallas. “I’m just blessed to be here, honestly.”

And the Cowboys are rather fortunate to have him as well. In fact, Goodwin has led the squad in special teams tackles the last two seasons and can become the first player in franchise history to lead Dallas in that category for three straight years.

“I take a lot of pride in that. That’s my job. That’s my main job, period, now,” he said. “And I want to be a leader on the field and off the field to these guys, young and old. I take a lot of pride in that and try to be the best in the league at what I do.”

And it’s not just making tackles in the kicking game. Goodwin seems to find other ways to make big plays on special teams, whether it’s downing the ball inside the 10-yard line on punt coverage, or even coming up with a big return like he did against the Steelers, flipping the field on a 73-yard return. But his biggest play was obviously the recovery of the “watermelon” kick that traveled exactly 10 yards before Goodwin pounced on it to give the Cowboys possession.

Role Call: Could Nahshon Play Right Away? - Rob Phillips, The Mothership

If Nahshon Wright earns some legit playing time, everyone will forget the howls of protest when his name was called in the draft.

What’s Next: Pads. Training camp and preseason is where we’ll really see how much progress [Nahshon] Wright can make in a crowded cornerback group that features another Day 2 draft pick (Kelvin Joseph, second round) and three veterans who started at least eight games last year (Trevon Diggs, Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown). Wright is adjusting to the techniques that the coaching staff wants him to play, but he was productive in team periods that were open to the media. Today’s pass-happy NFL can be tough on rookie cornerbacks, but the Cowboys like Wright’s competitiveness along with his skill set. Even if he doesn’t play early, the club wants to get him ready. Remember, the top four cornerbacks on last year’s roster missed time with injuries.

Bet You Didn’t Know: Wright first helped Laney College (California) win a junior college state title in 2018 before transferring to Oregon State for two seasons and then declaring early for the draft last winter. Laney’s program was featured on the popular Netflix documentary series “Last Chance U.”

Quotable: ”It’s been great. Just getting in the playbook, learning the playbook, and just learning new techniques, learning a different way to play the defensive back position. It’s been great. I’ve been out there with the vets, learning from them, watching them move, and just being able to kind of take from each person.” – Nahshon Wright

10 things we learned from Cowboys OTAs and minicamp: Dak Prescott buries injury, Micah Parsons gets work at DE and more - Staff, DMN

Everyone seems to think this will finally be the year Randy Gregory puts it all together.

3. Randy Gregory is entering this season refreshed

About 10 minutes into Randy Gregory’s news conference with reporters, there wasn’t a single question referencing suspensions or other elements of his off-the-field past.

Nor should there have been.

A new chapter of the Gregory story is being written. The 28-year-old is the protagonist, something he didn’t always consider himself when he says a lack of self-love contributed to poor decisions and substance abuse. Gregory changed his internal conversation. Today, the external one follows suit.

Gregory is someone on whom the Cowboys are counting in 2021.

His goal is to deliver.

“This year, I think for me, is about really finding my role on this team,” Gregory said. “Not as somebody who’s here and then leaves for a certain amount of time. Somebody who’s here to stay and somebody that wants to be a leader, not only vocally but on the field with my play.

“I think that’s one of the biggest things for me that I’ve always struggled with is my leadership skills on and off the field, so this year, I’m trying to be a little bit more invested because I am one of the older guys in the group. I think me, [DeMarcus Lawrence] and [Brent Urban] are the three oldest guys in our D-line group. Naturally, I feel like guys are looking at me for input and advice or looking at me to make a play and show people how it’s done.”

Dallas Cowboys officially headed back to Oxnard for training camp in July - Staff, DMN

Going back to Cali is now official.

After a year away due to COVID-19, the Dallas Cowboys will return to Oxnard, Calif. to open training camp on July 21.

Fans will be able to attend all practice sessions that are open to the public, beginning with the first workout on Thursday, July 22.

“We’re looking forward to getting back to training camp in Oxnard and getting back to normal,” said Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones in a statement.

“I view the team’s return to Oxnard as a very positive sign that the Cowboys and the NFL are moving one big step closer toward the traditional camp, preseason and regular season experience that we have been accustomed to for generations, and that includes everything from the players, the fans at practice, the media, and, of course, the great weather in Southern California.”

Camp in Oxnard is set to conclude on August 12, and the team will return to Texas after a preseason game at Arizona on August 13. Following the game with Arizona, the final portion of camp will be held at The Star in Frisco, with select practices open to the public.

Cowboys’ Leighton Vander Esch out to break injury ‘chain of bad luck’ - Todd Archer, ESPN

If only LVE could stay healthy.

Health is always going to be a storyline for Vander Esch. It was that way entering the 2018 draft because of a neck condition that scared teams away from the prospect out of Boise State. It was that way in 2019, when he missed seven games because of a neck injury that required surgery. It continued last season when he broke a collarbone in the first quarter of the Cowboys’ season opener and when he suffered a high ankle sprain that kept him out of the final two games.

“I’m probably going to get hurt more if I’m not playing hard, so if the ball is in the air, I’m going to go get it,” Vander Esch said. “If the ball is on the ground, I’m going to go get it. You’re going to get the most out of me every snap, so I’m not here to use injuries as an excuse to play half-ass.”

...

It was a sign of something Vander Esch can control beyond his health: his ability to recognize plays in different situations.

“It’s preparing mentally when I’m watching film and paying attention in meetings and getting the most out of it as you can,” Vander Esch said. “The NFL journey doesn’t last long and so it’s not forever. You got to make the most of it while you’re there, and I think just preparing, watching film, making sure you’re in position and that you can communicate out there, make the right calls, make the right checks and then just dial in, the more you know, the more you recognize, the slower the game is and the faster you can play.”

NFC East 2021: One player on a rookie contract who is key to each team’s success - Patrik Walker, CBS Sports

Michael Gallup’s contract-year is going to be an important.

Cowboys: Michael Gallup, WR

Player experience: 3 years

How acquired: 2018 NFL Draft - Round 3, Pick 81

There are some who believe Michael Gallup is expendable because of the addition of CeeDee Lamb in 2020, but not a single soul within the Cowboys organization feels that way. They’d like to keep Gallup around for the long haul and that’s why, to this point, they’ve stiff-armed any and all speculation of a potential trade. For his part, Gallup has been vocal about wanting to stay in Dallas and is gearing up to let his play this coming season put an exclamation point on an impressive first four years in the NFL — one that’s seen him emerge as both a 1,000-yard receiver and game-changing deep threat in Dallas.

The hydra that is Cooper, Lamb and Gallup gives Dak Prescott a WR corps that arguably has no equal in the NFL, and one that can attack a defense over, under and sideline to sideline. And don’t let Gallup’s eternal smile fool you, because he plays the position with a level of violence reminiscent of Dez Bryant, and has speed to boot. With Prescott back in the mix, Gallup is instantly aimed at the 1,000-yard mark once again, which means the Cowboys could potentially field three receivers who surpass that bar in 2021 — and three is better than two (hint) when trying to reclaim the division crown.

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