FRISCO, Texas – Good times out here at The Star/Ford Center on Wednesday.
Got a chance to watch the second day of three Organized Team Activity (OTA) workouts this week, those "voluntary" practices the Cowboys will go through for three weeks in helmets, jerseys and shorts, contact quite minimal.
But even at that, we get a chance to see who is lining up where, and if it's at first team, second team or third team. And it's pretty obvious who can run and who is dragging along.
Just don't ask how Jason Witten looked, or Sean Lee or Tyrone Smith or Jameill Showers. They will only practice twice a week, but not on Wednesdays.
And if you want the most obvious observation that can be qualified, there is no doubt about it, veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb, signed to a free agent one-year deal, has still got it. The ninth-year vet can scoot, and remember he won't turn 29 until Aug. 22.
One other thing: Fourth-round draft choice Tony Pollard, the running back from Memphis, looked as if he was shot out of a cannon on one quick-hitting run up the middle that nary a person touched him or came close to chasing him down.
Let's go, this week's _shots_ are awaiting.
- Line Dance: Don't start jumping to conclusions when some began reporting that the first-team offensive line went like this: LT Connor Williams; LG Xavier Su'a-Filo; C Joe Looney; RG Zack Martin; RT La-el Collins, that is, until team periods began, and Jake Campos took over for the limited Collins (shoulder surgery). But here is the rest of the story. The Cowboys were missing their top two tackles, and three when Collins was subbed out during team, including Smith and Cameron Fleming (leg contusion). So offensive line coach Marc Colombo put out his top five available linemen, and since Williams played left tackle at Texas, last year's rookie starting left guard moved outside with Su'a-Filo taking over at left guard. But Colombo pointed out when all hands are on deck, then the starters from left to right will be Smith, Williams, Travis Frederick, Martin and Collins. Colombo realizes he has Williams in his back pocket if an emergency arises at the tackle position.
- Welcome Back Travis: As expected, Frederick, the four-time Pro Bowl center, indeed has improved to "limited" for OTAs, putting on a helmet for some of the skeleton and individual drills for the first time since team physicians discovered during last year's training camp he was suffering from Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Frederick was only held out of 11-on-11 periods, that mostly to protect him following shoulder and umbilical hernia surgeries. Said head coach Jason Garrett of Frederick's return, "Very encouraging and inspirational." And again, it was Looney taking his place with the first team, while third-round draft choice Connor McGovern was working second-team left guard.
- Not Some Bob: At some point, the Cowboys' two-time NFL rushing champ over the past three years needs to understand his name is Ezekiel Elliott, not some Bob Elliott. Especially when you are in Las Vegas for a musical festival walking around wearing a caution-yellow Lakers jersey. You or me, if we had forearmed a security guard for whatever the guy said, no big deal. But when you are Zeke, the Monday headline in the paper when you return home screams "Handcuffed" thanks to those troll sites leaching around for high-profile content. And Zeke should send the Vegas police department a huge "thank you" for cuffing him and simply leading him away for a talk, totally de-escalating what could have turned volatile if the police had overreacted. And at least he had the sense not to resist getting cuffed, never a good look but shouldn't be a big deal with no arrest or charges.
- Faulty Perception: There seems to be this growing perception out there that the Cowboys are in dire need of immediately negotiating contract extensions for the likes of Amari Cooper, Dak Prescott, Elliott and Byron Jones. Not the case. Whatever negotiations have taken place so far should be characterized as barely lukewarm. The Cowboys are in no hurry, and nor should they be unless someone wants to give them a sweetheart deal. Remember, the Cowboys can retain the rights to Dak and Zeke for the next two years without an extension. An immediate extension for either would cause their 2019 cap charges to increase, especially Dak's. A Cooper long-term extension would decrease his 2019 cap hit since he's on the books for $13.9 million this year.
- Don't Get It: With all this talk about the NFL owners giving the Competition Committee the right to adjust the new rule challenging offensive and defensive pass interference, these guys just don't get it. Why would the NFL even consider putting more responsibility on their head coaches to correct egregious officiating mistakes in the final two minutes of halves by allowing challenges instead of, as I've previously pointed out, having an eye-in-the-sky buzz down to the head referee and say, "Hey buddy, your crew blew that call (or non-call)." No challenge. No review delay. Just fix the obvious, i.e. the missed interference call in the NFC title game that cost the Saints a trip to the Super Bowl.
- Fix-It II: This shouldn't even be a discussion. Give each team heading into overtime of a tied game a possession. That just makes too much common sense. Have they not been watching these overtimes the past couple of weeks in the NHL and NBA. Pretty darn exhilarating. Play the darn thing out.
- Short Shots: See where Cowboys former wide receiver Cole Beasley is missing workouts with his new Buffalo mates following surgery to repair a sports hernia … With defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence, Taco Charlton and defensive end/defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford not practicing, newly signed Robert Quinn worked at first-team right defensive end, with last year's fourth-round pick Dorance Armstrong at left end. Behind them were free-agent signee Kerry Hyder left and seventh-round pick Jalen Jelks right … First shot at 1-tech defensive tackle in place of the rehabbing Antwaun Woods was Daniel Ross … Also, with Lee and Leighton Vander Esch (pelvic strain) not practicing, Joe Thomas was working on one side of Jaylon Smith and Justin March-Lillard on the other … The quarterback rotation on Wednesday behind Dak Prescott had Mike White taking second reps and Cooper Rush third.
And last word goes to Dak, when asked about Pollard, the fourth-round pick who is capable of running the ball, catching the ball and returning kicks, he said, "Let him do everything."