FRISCO, Texas – First impressions are important, but not lasting.
Last, departing impressions are, too. Sometimes even more telling.
When considering both, sure seems like the Cowboys hit it out of the park trading a fourth-round pick for Trey Lance, the former 2021 third pick in the NFL Draft. At least from a personality standpoint. Nice kid. Solid.
Answered all the questions right on Tuesday. Smiled. Looked people straight in the eye. Cordial. Actually chatted a few of us up in the locker room after the Cowboys minicamp-like practice Wednesday morning. No signs of being disgruntled or bitter over the Niners pulling the plug on him after being demoted so quickly to third string and then washing their hands of a guy they paid dearly to acquire with three first-round draft choices and a third to boot after just two injury interrupted seasons.
No signs of whining, either.
Seems to be embracing the redo chance with his new team, even though he's destined to remain the third quarterback in line here behind Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush.
"It was a little bit surreal for me hearing I was going to come here knowing everything about this historic organization," Lance said. "Just compared to the 49ers, obviously you think of that as another one of the top-tier, historic organizations, but for me, just very excited to be here.
"Coach McCarthy and the entire coaching staff, man, nothing but knowledge being in all these meetings. It's been awesome for me. It's been fun. Kind of a breath of fresh air to learn a new offense and being around the guys the last two days. I feel like I've learned so much, just ball."
But maybe what those who knew Lance in San Francisco had to say as he was heading out the door is a far better barometer of his character.
Take Niners George Kittle, never one to mince words.
"You've seen examples in other places where guys don't handle adversity well and they blame everybody else. They point fingers and stuff like that," Kittle said. "We haven't really had that issue in this entire organization.
"That speaks to the volume of character that we have on this team. You know, Trey was in a room when Jimmy G (Garoppolo) got scrutiny every single day, all the time. Jimmy handled it really well. So, (Trey) had to learn a little bit from him and then he handled it great on his own as well."
Kittle would go on to say Lance handled this trade "Like an adult," knowing he is only 23.
Then there was Sam Darnold, Lance's new teammate named the backup instead of him to starter Brock Purdy, saying, "He's a great dude. He was loved in the locker room. He was all those things. He was a great teammate even with me coming here and competing and doing all those things. Even since OTAs, he has been nothing but great to me. I've appreciated that a ton."
And then there was this from Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan, knowing the Cowboys weren't the only team interested in trading for Lance, the Niners receiving interest from Baltimore, Buffalo and Detroit:
"I always feel like I let Trey down. I wanted him to come here, I believed in Trey, I believed in him before we took him and I'm responsible for that."
Classy lasting impression matched by now a first impression, with no _shots_ taken.
· Coach 'Em Up: Looks like new quarterbacks coach Scott Tolzien will have his hands full, taking on the responsibility of getting Lance up to speed. Interesting to see not only Tolzien, the former NFL quarterback, and head coach Mike McCarthy giving Lance tips on a little pre-practice drill consisting of a three-step drop, turn with arm up and throw like a 10-yard pass. My guess is after only having played in eight NFL games and just two starts in each of his two seasons in San Francisco, Lance will be all ears.
· Center Of Attention: That the Cowboys didn't retain a true backup center on the initial 53-man roster is eye opening. That is one reason the Cowboys have informed undrafted rookie free agent guard T.J. Bass, one of the now four backup offensive linemen on the 53, to start working getting comfortable with his hand on the ball, too. And he didn't delay, seen after practice on Wednesday not only snapping the ball as if a quarterback under center, but also taking some shotgun snaps, too. Needed one of those Norman Rockwell pictures of the gaggle of reporters interviewing Bass after practice Wednesday in the locker room. According to Bass, this represents his first interview since the start of training camp. Sounds as if the backup-center plan for now is using the allowed three game-day callups on practice squad center Brock Hoffman until someone proves worthy of manning the backup job on the 53.
· Where's The 'Backers? Don't panic seeing the Cowboys retain only four linebackers on this 53-man roster. Let's remember one of those four is still Micah Parsons, and if one of the two starters, either Leighton Vander Esch or Damone Clark, is out with an injury, then Parsons becomes more of a full-time 'backer. Plus, there is all of those versatile safety/linebackers like Jayron Kearse, Marquese Bell and Juanyeh Thomas to pick up the slack.
· Baker's Dozen: While perusing the name plates above the player lockers at The Star, there are stars next to their names distinguishing the number of Pro Bowl appearances earned with the Cowboys. Currently there are 12 players having earned Pro Bowl appearances playing here out of the 53 roster guys. Leading the way are Zack Martin and Tyron Smith with eight each. No one else then has more than the three of DeMarcus Lawrence. Then two each for Dak Prescott, Micah Parsons, Travon Diggs and CeeDee Lamb, and one each for Tony Pollard, Leighton Vander Esch, Bryan Anger, KaVontae Turpin and Tyler Biadasz. But the 13th would be the recently-arrived cornerback Stephon Gilmore with five – one with Buffalo, three with New England and his most recent one with Carolina in 2021.
· Opportunity Knocks: McCarthy said the other day he would welcome Will Grier back on the practice squad, which would have given the Cowboys four in the building after trading for Lance. But Grier jumped on the opportunity to sign onto Cincinnati's practice squad, realizing with Bengals starter Joe Burrow still dealing with a calf injury, there would be a chance if Burrow isn't ready for the opener to become the Bengals No. 2 QB behind backup Jake Browning. And while head coach Zac Taylor said the other day when asked about Burrow's timeline to return, "We'll see," hardly encouraging, Burrow at least was on the practice field Wednesday.
· Playing The Odds: Don't think the Cowboys are turning their back on special teams ace C.J. Goodwin, initially released and then only signed back onto the practice squad. They will use his three allowed practice squad player callups to the 48, like playing the odds at some point a roster spot opens by injury during that three-week period. This allows the Cowboys for now to keep a borderline player who might not have cleared waivers.
· Quick Shots: Good to see Jourdan Lewis finally getting some practice reps in the non-padded practice Wednesday, having just been removed from the PUP list following surgery to repair his Lisfranc fracture. This doesn't indicate he's ready to play, but likely sooner than the required four-week period if he had remained on PUP, and at least now he can practice and attend meetings … Encouraging sight for underdogs everywhere to see, walking off the field together side-by-side was No. 42 Deuce Vaughn and No. 43 Hunter Luepke, the undrafted rookie free agent fullback from North Dakota State, the one-time teammate of Lance, who made the 53 … True to following their plan after losing third-round draft choice DeMarvion Overshown to the torn ACL, safety Marquese Bell was manning one of the linebacker spots on a change-up nickel defense … And do not wonder why the Cowboys are conducting two 8 a.m. outdoor practices this week since the temperature Wednesday morning began at 75 degrees, roughly 30 degrees cooler than it has been in these parts mid-afternoon … And good luck to former Cowboys starting cornerback and good guy Anthony Brown, lost last year to a torn Achilles on Dec. 4, the Steelers giving him a chance to revive his career by signing the eighth-year player to their practice squad.
And for the last word, let's do something a little different. Since we started with Trey Lance, let's end with another voice from someone who knew the third-year quarterback intimately in San Francisco, Jimmy Garoppolo, who has grappled to make a name for himself in this league in a different manner, not entering as the third pick in a draft but the second pick in the second round of the 2014 draft out of Eastern Illinois, same as former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
"Excited for Trey. Just a new opportunity for him," Garoppolo said on NFL Total Access in an interview airing the other day. "Things didn't work out in San Francisco for whatever reasons, but glad that he gets another shot, man. This league's all about opportunities, and when you get a fresh one like that, you've just got to take advantage of it.
"Everyone has their own path and everything like that. It's never going to be easy, but it's how you come out the other end of it. So I'm always excited for him, man. He's a brother of mine. Always pulling for him.
"Dudes got talent. Just got to get him out there."
At some point, to take his shot.