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Cowboys news: Malik Hooker is now officially a Dallas Cowboy

The news you may have missed from Tuesday.

Carolina Panthers v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Cowboys Sign Malik Hooker; OT Moved To IR - Rob Phillips, DallasCowboys.com

After the Cowboys brought in Malik Hooker for another visit last week, the free agent officially cleared COVID-19 protocols, passed his physical, and joined the team. It resulted in the Cowboys adding Mitch Hyatt to the injured reserve to make room for him.

“I think it’s clearly an opportunity to add another excellent player,” Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said. “We had a chance to bring him in and he’s completed his rehab. I think anytime you have a chance to just continue to build the competition on your roster, if it works out for both sides, you definitely have to take advantage of that.”

To make room for Hooker on the 90-man training camp roster, the Cowboys placed offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt on the Reserve/Injured list. Hyatt is working back from a knee injury.

Hooker is wearing No. 28 at Tuesday’s practice. The Cowboys visited with him in March, but a deal did not materialize. Instead, the club signed Damontae Kazee, the former Falcons safety who played four seasons for Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in Atlanta. Kazee is also returning from a 2020 Achilles tear and has told reporters in camp that he feels “110%.”

Zack Martin has a minor ankle issue - @ToddArcher

Zack Martin was absent from practice Monday, in what was initially described as a rest day for the veteran. Tuesday brought news that Martin is actually dealing with an ankle injury, although it didn’t prevent him from practicing on Tuesday.

Practice Points: Defense Enters “Airplane Mode” - DallasCowboys.com Staff

Malik Hooker’s addition seems to have put the rest of the defense on notice, as Dan Quinn’s unit showed out on Tuesday. Several defensive backs made big plays, while Quinton Bohanna and other defensive linemen flashed as well.

He hasn’t been here long, but Tuesday looked like Damontae Kazee’s best day in a Cowboys uniform. Working predominantly as a starting safety, he was active all over the field during the defense’s strong day. The highlight might have been the best play of the entire day, as he perfectly read and broke on a pass from Dak Prescott over the middle of the field. Prescott was looking for Malik Turner on a slant, only for Kazee to step in front of the pass and take it the other way for a touchdown. It was the type of playmaking the Cowboys are hoping to see plenty more of from the veteran.

Cornerbacks Trevon Diggs and Maurice Canady also recorded interceptions against Prescott in situational team drills. Diggs’ pick was in tight quarters in the end zone as Prescott looked for wide receiver Noah Brown against the sideline. Canady made a diving interception on a crossing route intended for wide receiver Cedrick Wilson.

Adding size and length was a clear emphasis with the Cowboys’ offseason moves on the defensive line, and that was on display Tuesday. Rookie Quinton Bohanna and veteran Brent Urban batted down multiple passes at the line of scrimmage. Bohanna, listed at 330 pounds, also showed good quickness getting off the snap and in pursuit of tackles. Fourth-year defensive end Dorance Armstrong added a couple of would-be sacks, taking advantage of extra reps while star passer DeMarcus Lawrence starts camp on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list.

Dallas Cowboys revamped their LB corps, but what difference does it make if DTs are the same? - Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas Morning News

The Cowboys saw a lot of change to their linebacker corps over the offseason after a year in which their run defense was routinely gashed each week. But for the Cowboys to get better on that end, it’ll first require improvement in the trenches.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to condemn anyone for what I saw in one unpadded practice. But for those watching, Trysten Hill was working on conditioning drills with trainer Britt Brown and is not expected to practice anytime soon. Lest you forget, he suffered a torn ACL against the New York Giants, a gruesome injury rendered a footnote by the broken ankle Prescott endured in the same game.

While Dak is out running around and looking fine in his protective red jersey, Hill strains cords and pushes sleds and performs football-type activities but that’s it. As a result, Neville Gallimore and Carlos Watkins were your starting tackles in drills Tuesday. Gallimore was a third-round pick from Oklahoma a year ago who was tossed into the fire and got nine starts in 2020. Carlos Watkins was part of the only run defense worse than the Cowboys and made 11 starts for the Houston Texans last season. Behind them are rookie sixth-round pick Quinton Bohanna, an immense young fellow from Kentucky, and Osa Odighizuwa, a third-round selection from UCLA. Some journeyman help from Brett Urban, a starter three years ago in Baltimore and part-time last year in Chicago, is available if needed.

Does any of this sound like the sort of thing that will free Parsons and Smith and the rest to make tackles and stop opposing running games in their tracks?

Neville Gallimore Has Taken “Huge Jump” Heading Into Year 2 - Matthew Lenix, Inside the Star

The Cowboys only had few good stories defensively last year, but rookie Neville Gallimore’s gradual emergence was one of them. Heading into his first proper training camp, Gallimore has apparently improved in a huge way.

With his second NFL campaign set to commence in September, Gallimore has vastly improved his conditioning according to Head Coach Mike McCarthy.

“His biggest strides have been in the weight room – strength and conditioning,” McCarthy said. “He is in tremendous, tremendous shape. Like a lot of rookies, it’s a threshold to get over the level of conditioning to play in the league the first year. So all the way through – his weight, his conditioning, he’s had a tremendous, tremendous offseason. He looks great. He has complete understanding whereas last year he was just learning the defense, how we wanted him to play, the different stances, and things like that. But Neville has taken a huge jump in the offseason.”

Stopping the run is something the Cowboys were awful at least season, finishing 31st in the NFL. However, in his second career start against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 9, albeit in a loss, Gallimore showed the kind of run-stuffer he could be. He finished as one of the best interior defensive linemen for that week when it came to run defense grade, run stops, and run stop percentage according to Pro Football Focus.

Cowboys CB Trevon Diggs focused on upping INT numbers: ‘I’m a receiver, too’ - Todd Brock, Cowboys Wire

Trevon Diggs’ rookie season wasn’t perfect, but he did enough to convince many fans and coaches that he was the real deal. Only it wasn’t enough for Diggs himself, who was disappointed in how few interceptions he had last year.

Diggs doesn’t count his picks; he counts the ones he feels like he should have had but missed. “I got my hands on 14 balls. I ended up with not 14 interceptions, so that’s a problem.” The Alabama product was among the league leaders in passes defensed last season. But Diggs believes that if he’s close enough to touch an incoming pass, then he’s close enough to make the pick. In his mind, they were all interceptions.

“All of them,” Diggs confirmed to reporters. “I dropped a lot of them, and if I can get my hands on it, I can catch it, I feel like. All of them could have been interception opportunities.”

Last season, Diggs was a second-round draft pick still learning the ropes in his first pro season. He was targeted 76 times as a rookie in 2020, the second-highest number on the Cowboys defense. His strong showing means opposing quarterbacks may not be quite as willing to test the 6-foot-1-inch 23-year-old. Diggs knows he’ll have to improve his game to make the most of what could be fewer chances.

Will Blake Jarwin be a Lock for the Starting Tight End Position? - Alec Cash, Inside the Star

Blake Jarwin was primed to be the Cowboys’ new starting tight end entering last year, but an ACL tear in the season opener changed things for both him and Dalton Schultz, who had a career year in Jarwin’s place. Can Jarwin reclaim his starting spot from Schultz in 2021?

When Jarwin went down week one last season, backup tight end Dalton Schultz emerged as the starter and put the league on notice as he became a reliable option on offense. Schultz showed sure hands, blocking ability and was very dependable on a 6-10 Cowboys team decimated by injuries. For his efforts, he may have a chance to be the starter for the upcoming season.

Jarwin is more fluid, athletic, while Schultz is the better all-around player as he can block and assist in the run game on the edges. So far this offseason, there has not been much talk if Jarwin will enter the season as the starter. Do not forget about Schultz, who will look to build on his breakout season and earn a starting spot.

We are in for an exciting offseason to see how this position will play out. The Cowboys have a good problem on their hands as offensive coordinator Kellen Moore can line both players up in different packages. Opposing defenses will have issues game-planning for both players as Jarwin can get upfield with great agility while Schultz can move the chains consistently.

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