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3 takeaways from Cowboys 2023 minicamp practices

Here’s are some of the highlights from the Dallas Cowboys minicamp so far.

Washington Commanders v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys are making their way through the offseason with the start of minicamp this week. With under 100 days until they kickoff against the New York Giants, this time is essential for them to come together as a team before the real work begins in July.

Even though the contact is nonexistent between players, minicamp is mandatory, which means every Cowboys player is accounted for compared to OTAs. With that said, here are three takeaways from minicamp so far.

A different approach for the running backs.

The Cowboys made a few coaching changes this offseason, with most of them being on the offensive side of the ball. Former offensive line coach Joe Philbin and former running backs coach Skip Peete are two important names not returning for 2023.

Jeff Blasko, who was Dallas’ assistant offensive line coach in 2022, will now be filling the shoes left behind by Peete. With Blasko’s experience being focused on the o-line, Mike McCarthy talked about how there will be more emphasis on pass blocking for all the backs.

With Ezekiel Elliott no longer part of the equation, the Cowboys need running backs to try and match his reliability in pass protection. Tony Pollard is taking over for Elliott, but he struggled with his pass blocking at the start of the 2022 season, specifically in Week 1. However, he significantly got better by the end of the year.

According to Pro Football Focus, with a minimum of 50 percent of the snaps, Pollard was No. 1 in the NFL among running backs, with a pass-blocking grade of 74.9. That’s better than James Connor, Saquon Barkley, A.J. Dillion, and Derrick Henry, who are all bigger backs than Pollard.

So if Pollard wants to get paid as one of the best backs in the NFL, being an elite pass protector will not only help the Cowboys’ offense but his price tag as well.

A breakout candidate at linebacker

Since he joined the Cowboys, fans have been waiting for linebacker Jabril Cox to live up to the pre-draft hype. Injuries have derailed his first few seasons, but with Cox finally healthy, he’s taking full advantage of his opportunity.

It couldn’t be better timing for Cox to take off this season. The linebacker room lacks experience outside Leighton Vander Esch. It’s often forgotten that Cox has been with the team for three seasons, being one of the most tenured players at the position.

Even though three years is a long time, Cox has just 16 games under his belt as a pro. He’s spent most of his career playing special teams and had just six percent of his snaps on defense a season ago.

If Cox can keep building on his momentum heading into training camp, his performance in minicamp could just be the beginning.

Kicking the can down the road

With just about halfway through the offseason, the Cowboys still have just one kicker on their active roster. Tristan Vizcaino joined Dallas during the 2022 playoffs after Brett Maher missed four extra points in the playoff win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is still sticking around.

With him being the only kicker on the team, the pressure is on to see if he can be the team’s solution for 2023. This week, he started on the right foot after a rough outing last week during OTAs.

Even though Vizcaino had a great day of practice, the Cowboys still want to bring in another place kicker for competition and make sure they don’t have another breakdown at the position in the playoffs.

The front office has been adamant they are leaving no stone unturned with finding their next kicker, but Cowboys Vice President Stephen Jones says:

“We don’t see the guy that we want to trigger on yet. We’ll work through that.”

Free agents who remained unsigned at the position include Mason Crosby, Robbie Gould, Zane Gonzalez, and even Brett Maher.

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