It’s the Hard Knocks life: HBO will take Cowboys fans inside training camp like never before - Michael Gehlken, DMN
The HBO show premieres on Tuesday night.
NFL Films watched on July 28 when Dak Prescott and Mike McCarthy convened on the field. NFL Films listened when the Cowboys quarterback told his head coach, who is wired for audio every practice, that his throwing arm didn’t quite feel right.
From a distance, the production crew with earpieces and zoomed-in camera lenses monitored Prescott in the minutes to come.
His walk around the field.
His jog off of it for medical evaluation.
“We’re actually pretty quiet when something like that happens,” said Shannon Furman, director of NFL Films’ latest Hard Knocks season. “We all know it’s happening. Everyone is kind of like, ‘Oh, did you hear that? OK, stay calm.’ And honestly, the Cowboys were really calm about it.”
The Cowboys top draft pick is really starting to settle in at linebacker.
Even for a guy as highly-touted as Parsons, it’s been an impressive start. And when you consider that the rookie said during the spring that he was still feeling his way through the install, it’s even crazier to think how far he’s come in such a short amount of time.
“It’s drastic. I kind of understand every coverage we’re in, why we’re running it, what situations we’ll be in,” he said. “I can say — and me and Coach talked about this the other day — it’s like I understand what we’re trying to do, but now I want to understand what they’re trying to do against me.”
No sign jumps out more clearly than the lime green dot on the back of Parsons’ helmet – an indicator that he has a radio transmitter in his helmet, allowing him to relay calls from Quinn and the coaching staff.
To be clear, it is training camp. The trio of Parsons, Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch are all sporting green dots, as they get comfortable making calls for the defense. It’s unclear who will hold that responsibility when the season arrives. But the fact that the coaches would bother a rookie with that responsibility seems to indicate a certain level of confidence.
“You do have a great responsibility because all 11 guys need to be on the same page, and everybody needs to understand what we’re running and what we’re going to do,” he said. “It is a big responsibility because if you’re not, it can go very bad.”
Three veterans who could help the Cowboys fix a few concerns from the HOF game - Brian Martin, Blogging The Boys
Will the Cowboys hit the free agent market?
OT Russell Okung
One of the Cowboys bigger concerns right now has to be at offensive tackle. With Tyron Smith’s known health issues, and him trying to bounce back from a season-ending injury that required offseason surgery, the Cowboys need a reliable backup. Sadly, neither Ty Nsekhe or Brandon Knight’s play against Pittsburgh made it look like they are the solution.
Although his play has declined over the past few seasons mostly due to injuries, Russell Okung could step in and be an immediate upgrade as the Cowboys swing tackle for the 2021 season. He’s missed 19 games over the past two seasons and was only able to start seven last year with the Carolina Panthers. His health is a pretty big red flag, however, it’s one worth taking a chance on as a backup if he’s willing to play that role.
The Cowboys draft pick from last year will have to fight hard to make the roster.
Reggie Robinson looks a whole lot like that player the Dallas Cowboys gave up on three years ago, Charvarius Ward
Reggie Robinson, Dallas’ fourth round pick in 2020, came to Dallas with hype and fanfare. Dubbed, a “scouts pick”, the Cowboys coaching staff didn’t embrace the Tulsa corner quite so warmly and promptly moved him to safety where he was never seen from again (Ok, we saw him but the kid was buried).
The 6-foot-1 205lb CB with 31 ½ inch arms was exactly what Dallas look for in a boundary cornerback. Which is why the position shift was such a head scratcher. He’s explosive and fast. Big, strong, and long. The perfect developmental prospect for the Cowboys.
Hence why fans and scouts alike, were pleased to hear Robinson was moving back to his natural position of cornerback. The only problem now is the log-jam at the position may lead the Cowboys to “pull a Charvarius” and dispatch a very viable long-term solution, all for the sake of immediate need and temporary veteran suturing.
Reggie Robinson has been flashing a little in camp this year. The rookies Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright are drawing the headlines, and veterans Maurice Canady and Anthony Brown are earning the praise of coaches, but Robinson is making statements himself.
Three under-the-radar Cowboys who will try to make the decisions tough at roster cutdown time.
Justin Hamilton, DT
In 2020, the Cowboys’ run defense was among the worst in the NFL. Dallas finished 31st in the league last season allowing an average of 158.8 rushing yards per game and a whopping 2,541 total yards on the ground through 16 contests.
That poor performance paved the way for defensive coordinator Mike Nolan to be fired after a single season and the hiring of former Atlanta Falcons head coach, Dan Quinn, in his place. Under Quinn’s watchful eye, the Cowboys brought in several new faces to man the interior of their defensive line.
Dallas signed both Brent Urban and Carlos Watkins in free agency. They then drafted Osa Odighizuwa and Quinton Bohanna to also help address their interior defensive line issues. And all of them have had a solid performance in camp so far.
But there’s a player who is entering his second season in Dallas that fans need to keep an eye on as well. And that’s defensive tackle Justin Hamilton. The 28-year old who went undrafted out of Louisiana-Lafayette back in 2015 was the first player mentioned by three-time Super Bowl champion offensive lineman Nate Newton when recently asked about what stood out for him following the preseason opener.
Who’s got next? These Cowboys greats could be next in line for the Pro Football Hall of Fame - Calvin Watkins, DMN
Future Cowboys Hall of Famers?
DeMarcus Ware, defensive end/ linebacker, 2005-13
The outside linebacker becomes a top contender once he becomes eligible in 2022. He had eight seasons with double-digit sack totals. He was a four-time All-Pro and was named to the All-2000s team.
Jason Witten, tight end, 2003-17, 2019
He’s 19th all-time in the NFL in receiving yards (13,046) and is fourth in receptions (1,228), which also places him second among tight ends. A 17-year career, with a brief retirement pause in 2018, saw Witten named to 11 Pro Bowl teams and two All-Pro teams.
Darren Woodson, safety, 1992-2003
The hard-hitting safety keeps hitting the ceiling in Hall of Fame voting, but at least his name remains in play. Woodson is the Cowboys’ all-time leader in tackles, a three-time All-Pro and a five-time Pro Bowler.
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