It is OTAs season for the Dallas Cowboys, and while that hardly means that pads are clashing against one another, it does mean that football activities (by literal definition) are happening, which is nice.
The Cowboys have made a number of changes to their roster over the course of this offseason so seeing them in action, however minimal the action is, is a positive thing. Unfortunately, the Cowboys also have a number of players who are coming back from injuries suffered last season, a matter that Mike McCarthy (who had back surgery recently) addressed on Thursday.
Here is a summation of what Mike McCarthy said at the podium.
Tony Pollard has been involved in OTAs, Terence Steele is not quite ready yet
The Cowboys lost running back Tony Pollard to a fractured fibula in the Divisional Round loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Offensive tackle Terence Steele was lost a few weeks prior. McCarthy noted that the former has been involved as of late by way of walkthroughs but that the latter is not quite there.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said Tony Pollard (leg) has been participating in OTA walk-throughs. Terence Steele (knee) isn’t quite ready yet— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) May 25, 2023
Terence Steele is "doing well", per MM, but don't expect to see him in OTAs, minicamp as he continues to recover from his torn ACL. #Cowboys— Patrik [No C] Walker (@VoiceOfTheStar) May 25, 2023
This means the team will try out several variations of OL sets to see who can do what before Steele returns.
The Cowboys have been coy about how they are going to approach the offensive line this year. On the surface they have a starting five (that includes Steele) that most of us feel confident about, but the inevitability of life without Tyron Smith casts a shadow that the team will have to address at some point.
Offensive language is still the same for Dak Prescott
One of the more notable things that happened this offseason that many have already filed away as something from long ago was the dismissal of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. While Brian Schottenheimer is the team’s new offensive coordinator in name, it is McCarthy who will be calling plays throughout the season.
He noted that the language is still the same for quarterback Dak Prescott.
Mike McCarthy on the consistency with the offense with the change at coordinator:— Nick Harris (@NickHarrisDC) May 25, 2023
"We're still in Dak's language. 2020 was trying to figure out who we wanted to be, but I think the evolution from 2021 and 2022 is what we want to continue to build off of."
Offensively the Cowboys have been one of the better teams in the NFL in the McCarthy era when Prescott is under center. It stands to reason that this trend will continue, but things hardly wind up as chalk as they seem to be on the surface.
Michael Gallup looks good so far
This time last year the Cowboys were waiting patiently on wide receiver Michael Gallup, who received a new deal with the team last offseason, to return from a torn ACL that happened in January of 2022 (Week 17 of the 2021 season). Gallup ultimately came back early in the season but did not have his usual form.
McCarthy said that he looks good with the ability to have a full offseason.
"[Michael Gallup] looks good. This is really the first time that he's had a full offseason program. It's very important. ... Giving him some more opportunities inside and expanding his [route tree]."— Patrik [No C] Walker (@VoiceOfTheStar) May 25, 2023
- MM on what the #Cowboys are looking to get from MG13 in 2023
The Cowboys hedged their bet at wide receiver this offseason by trading for veteran Brandin Cooks. CeeDee Lamb obviously headlines the group, but getting a closer-to-pre-torn-ACL Gallup would really help round the group out.
The pace may be “slower” than in years past
You may recall that the Cowboys and head coach Mike McCarthy were penalized for how exactly they went about OTAs in each of the last two offseasons. It appears that McCarthy is not looking to go down that road again.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said the team will go through team drills at a jog-through practice during OTAs. Cited the rules. May have something to do with fact NFL fined McCarthy $50,000 in 2021 and $100,000 in 2022 for too much competitive physicality. A “sore subject,” he said pic.twitter.com/BWCRATi92E— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) May 25, 2023
The New England Patriots were just docked two OTA practices this offseason on Wednesday afternoon so the subject is fresh around the league.