Camp Notes: The Gang Is All Here

"At this point for me, it's just try to take care of your ankle, your Achilles, and get ready to play football," Ellis said after Thursday's afternoon practice, and then having to address his contract issue once again. "Let that contract stuff go on through your agent, that's what you pay him for."

Position: Linebacker Height/Weight: 6-3, 235
Age: 23
College: UTEP
NFL Exp: Rookie
How Acquired: FA for '07
Hometown: Houston, Tex.

Fitting In: Obomese played defensive end at UTEP but is transitioning to outside linebacker in the Cowboys' 3-4 scheme. The Cowboys might have more depth at linebacker than any other position on the roster, so his special teams performance likely will play a large role in whether he makes the team. Before Oliver Hoyte moved to fullback last year, a strong preseason on special teams helped him make the team as an undrafted linebacker.
So Far: Obomese has been working with the first-team defense with Greg Ellis sidelined and first-round pick Anthony Spencer unsigned for the first two practices. He also has been working with the second-team punt squad, but his presence on first team defense has been turning more heads.
Best Asset: Playing defensive end in a 4-3 scheme in college, Obomese is an adept pass rusher, something that head coach Wade Phillips likes in an outside linebacker.
You Should Know: Obomese is a very vocal guy on the field, but off the field he tends to keep to himself. Instead of hanging out with teammates after practice, he prefers the relaxation offered by a good movie.
A Mouthful: "We have great teachers on the field like Coach Paul and Coach Dat, and on top of that Greg Ellis is on the side and he's getting in mental notes. And at the same time he's correcting me when I'm making mistakes and praising me when I make good plays." -Zach Buchanan

QB Shuffle

One quarterback's misery on Thursday meant two quarterbacks' relief as the Cowboys signed their final two draft choices and were forced to trim one player off the roster to remain at their 85-man limit.

Cutting Baker meant rookie free-agent quarterbacks Matt Moore and Richard Bartel were issued a roster reprieve, the two youngsters getting further chance to fight for either the third possible quarterback spot on the final 53-man roster or the right to land on the practice squad.

All three young quarterbacks - Baker spent last year on the team's practice squad - knew there was no way the Cowboys would keep five quarterbacks on the roster for long. One of the three was certain to go, but they just did not know who it would be.

"It was the first time to go through that and it was kind of an awkward feeling," said Bartel, who was signed midway through the off-season after impressing the team during a mini-camp workout. "I'll probably reflect on it a little more when I go back to the hotel tonight."

Stephen Jones said the club had a good feel for what Baker could do after seeing him in practice all last season, "and we wanted to see the other guys a little more."

Davis Debut

Cowboys fans attending Thursday's morning practice at the Alamodome got a chance to see exactly why Leonard Davis was signed as a free agent. In the first practice in full pads, Davis got his chance to knock around defensive linemen and linebackers.

"I can come off and make contact now," Davis said. "I can go and bump the linebackers and even the D-linemen. I can come off and really use my size and strength to overpower guys, whereas before, it was kind of, run-up-and-make-contact. That and hand placement, that's the big deal."

A monster of a guard at 6-6, 354 pounds, Davis possesses the versatility to play everywhere on the offensive line except center.

"The reason we got him in the first place is because he's versatile," Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips said. "He can play both tackles and either guard, really."

That versatility hasn't been put to use, though. With Colombo and Adams still sidelined following off-season knee surgeries and Marten previously unsigned, Phillips had opted to play Pat McQuistan and Molinaro at the two tackle spots instead of moving Davis out from right guard.

"We don't want to move him right now because our tackles are going to come back," Phillips said. "So we're going to keep him where he's going to play this year."

--Zach Buchanan

Lean and Mean

One of the reasons Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips has a "good feeling" about his new team is they showed up in shape. Not most players, but all of them.

Phillips said he didn't have to fine a single a player for reporting to camp overweight. Most players participated in strength and conditioning coach Joe Juraszek's off-season program, and the Cowboys emphasized conditioning throughout their summer workouts.

"That was a big thing going into the off-season for me and that's something he stressed," said defensive end Marcus Spears, who has aimed for a 295-pound playing weight. "That we're going to be moving a lot and you needed stamina and you needed to be quick. So when we left, that's what we did. A lot of guys devoted to shedding some pounds and coming back and being able to move on your feet and do the things that this defense entails."

--Rob Phillips

Mentally Sharp

Somewhat ironically, Isaiah Stanback's quarterback experience is helping him shift from signal-caller to receiver while he sits on the active/non-football injury list.

Stanback, who spent both off-season mini-camps recovering from Lisfranc foot surgery, missed two more practices with shin splints on Thursday. But Phillips said the fourth-round pick hasn't fallen too far behind in his transition to receiver and could be cleared for practice soon.

"The good thing about Isaiah is he's really attentive, he's focused and having been a quarterback he understands schemes and the passing game a little better than most just guys that are wide receivers," Phillips said.

Stanback said his surgically-repaired foot feels fine. He's now waiting for the shin splint pains to subside, and the Cowboys don't want to rush him back until he's completely healthy.

"I feel like I'm missing a lot but I'm staying into it mentally so much, being a quarterback and understanding how to study," Stanback said. "I'm taking mental reps to make sure I know what I'm doing. So when I am able to do the physical aspect, if I do make a mistake it's only a physical mistake and that can be corrected."

--Rob Phillips

Short Shots

When asked if the team would turn their contract attention toward starting quarterback Tony Romo now that all the draft picks have been signed, Stephen Jones said, "We won't be discussing any of that." While Jones said there might be ongoing contract talks with Romo's representative, he felt like the only time anyone will know about them is when a contract has been signed . . . . Phillips wasn't overly enthused about Thursday morning's practice, the first in pads, saying, "It was a little sloppy and the timing wasn't real good - what you expect the first time in pads." . . . After Thursday's afternoon practice, wide receiver Sam Hurd borrowed a microphone from a television reporter to playfully interview fellow wide receiver Terrell Owens. After Hurd's act was completed, Owens was surprised at how good his reporting skills were, telling him "You might actually have a future in that." . . . The Cowboys will hold only one practice on Friday, the workout beginning at 2:30 p.m. . . . The two combined practices on Thursday drew 11,699 people.

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