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Mick Shots: Looking Back, Historical Look Way Back & The Return Of DEs.


*        FRISCO, Texas –*Ninth OTA workout in the books.

         Cowboys U on Thursday.

         Three minicamp practices next Tuesday-Thursday.

         And then that's it until this team boards a charter flight to Oxnard, Calif., on July 24 for the start of training camp, at least for the Cowboys players.

For the coaches and front office folks, then it's time to hold their breath. That's a lot of unstructured time for these young guys, and remember, as we've preached, the Cowboys have a whole lot of young guys.

So let's go, The Shotsare piling up.

*        DT Reminder:Had to be reminded of this by new special teams coach Keith O'Quinn the other day while interviewing him for the next edition of *The Blitz.We were introduced to newly signed free agent Deonte Thompson four years ago. That's right, in his third preseason with Baltimore, the speedy wide receiver showed the Cowboys on Aug. 16 just how fast he is. "DT" took a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown. From 8 yards deep in the end zone, he goes the distance in a mere 12 seconds and the Cowboys never touched him. Never. And as the TV call went, Bill Jones says, "Rich Bisaccia won't like this," referring to the former Cowboys special teams coach, that preceding a clipboard slamming into the ground. And if that is not evidence enough of how fast this eighth-year veteran is, and still is, last year with the Bears during the preseason, the Cardinals were attempting a half-ending 63-yard field goal that came up short. Thompson fielded the ball 9¾ yards deep in the end zone and took the ball to the house. I'm thinking, if nothing else, this guy just might have some return skills, and apparently hasn't lost a step. 

*        Irving Sighting:*Good to see David Irving back at The Star working on his conditioning. He hasn't been participating in these OTA workouts, the Cowboys saying early that he had been concentrating on his conditioning. Even defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli pointed out that "Dino" needed to shed some pounds. In his absence, and after Maliek Collins fractured his fifth metatarsal, the Cowboys have been playing newly acquired Jahid Ward and Datone Jones inside at tackle with the first-team defense. Ward continues to impress. And with DeMarcus Lawrence being held out of these team drills and Taco Charlton now nursing a sore shoulder, we got to see fourth-round draft choice Dorance Armstrong work with the first-team defense at defensive end, along with Tyrone Crawford.

*        Old Man Swaim:*Even Geoff Swaim finds humor in the fact that with Jason Witten, affectionately called "Old Man Witt" these past two years by Ezekiel Elliott, now retired, he, in just his fourth NFL season has become the "seasoned veteran" in a tight end room that consists of four other guys who have yet to start a game. In fact, only one of those four has even played in just one game. Said Swaim, with a wry smile, "I'm the old guy (in the room), and I'm only 24."

         Big Picture:Speaking of tight ends, new tight ends coach Doug Nussmeier, the former NFL quarterback and college offensive coordinator, is not your traditional tight ends coach. This is a position he's never played or coached, except as what he might have touched on as a coordinator, right? Well, says second-year tight end Blake Jarwin, "He gives us the entire picture of what the defense is doing" because of his coordinator experience. Good point. Or as Swaim says of Nussmeier, "We're seeing different ideas of how to accomplish similar goals."

         Ware-ing 'Em Out:Good to see former Cowboys Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Ware, the team's all-time sack leader (117), sweating up a storm after practice. No, he's not coming back, though he's at his 250-pound playing weight. He's been out here working with the Cowboys defensive ends. Same as he's been in going back and forth to Denver with his former Broncos team. His calm demeanor lends to some good schooling. Plus, he understands what last year's first-round pick, Taco Charlton, was going through that rookie season. Talked about how he was cruising during his rookie minicamp, but that how much things changed in 2005 when the veterans showed up. "It was a shock having to face Flozell (Adams) and Larry Allen and Marc Colombo," he recalls. "These were grown men."

         Cameo Appearance:Expect to see four-time Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin on the field with the Cowboys during next week's minicamp. Remember, while his absence from voluntary OTAs has to do with on-going negotiations for a contract extension, he is under contract, the Cowboys picking up his fifth-year option at $9.3 million. That means he is required to attend minicamp practices. Now, this extension will get done, at least before the pads come on in training camp, but unlikely until Martin tells his agent, Tom Condon, to get it done. Just know the Cowboys are willing to pay him handsomely, as deserved.

         Quick Shots:Speaking of former defensive ends, working as part of the Minority Coaching program is former Cowboys defensive end George Selvie, who came off his couch, literally, during training camp in 2013, to not only make the team but finish with seven sacks … The Cowboys are being cautious with Taco, who has somewhat of a sore shoulder. Also with first-round draft choice Leighton Vander Esch, who has been held out of the past couple of practices with a sore ankle … The Cowboys also were missing two wide receivers from workouts, Thompson and rookie Cedric Wilson. It's that time of the spring … The June 1 release of veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick sank another $3 million this week into the Cowboys' available cap money.

         Final Shot:Salute to my late father, former Staff Sargent Dominick Spagnola, who 74 years ago on Thursday, June 8, 1994, stepped foot on Omaha Beach in the Normandy Region of France. He was part of the D-Day II landing, two days following the largest amphibious attack in history. Had recently turned 25 at the time of the invasion, and get this: For all the training in the States, the Army never taught the GIs to swim, and here they were, let off near shore having to wade through water while trying to keep their guns dry. But he survived, and considering the number of troops killed over those couple of days, minor miracle I'm here writing this.