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Mick Shots: So Much Change Must Have Most Wondering Who’s On First

FRISCO, Texas – Finally some concrete answers, at least for now.

         Yessiree, you guys have been wanting to know where this guy will be playing, where that guy will be playing? Is this guy considered a running back or wide receiver? Is that guy considered a defensive end or a defensive tackle?

         And what about the pecking order at different positions.

         You’d think we were trying to wind through the Abbott & Costello comedy routine, Who’s On First.

         So, on this Wednesday, after getting our first chance to watch the second of the 10 allotted OTA practices, we’ve got a few clues, but beware, in some instances, the order in which some guys play – first team, second team, etc. – depends on seniority with the Cowboys. For now.

         Also remember, these practices are in jerseys, shorts and helmets. Very limited contact. No one-on-one drills. No tackling, of course. But it’s quite competitive, evidenced if you saw new secondary coach Kris Richard running toward the line of scrimmage during one team passing drill, arm raised high in the air, waving his hand around as if he had a flag, pantomiming calling offensive pass interference when cornerback Marquez White got pushed to the ground.

         Let’s take a couple of Shots on getting you guys straight.

         First Secondary:When the first-team defense went onto the field, the secondary looked like this: Chidobe Awuzie, now No. 24 instead of last year’s 33, at left cornerback, Byron Jones at right cornerback, Anthony Brown in the slot, with Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods at safety. If you are wondering, Jourdan Lewis, last year’s third-round pick, was lining up in the slot on the second nickel.

         Defensive Front:Now this one comes with an asterisk or three. Franchise-tagged defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence will continue this offseason, as he did last offseason, conditioning and being held from the majority of these workouts. Remember, too, defensive tackle Maliek Collins is recovering from recent surgery to repair his fractured fifth metatarsal, and the Cowboys have decided, for now, that defensive tackle David Irving would be better served getting in tip-top shape, which has him concentrating on conditioning. So then, with those three considerations, here’s how the D-front lined up: Taco Charlton at left defensive end, Jahid Ward and Datone Jones (remember, he’s still here) manning the defensive tackle positions and Tyrone Crawford at right defensive end. And as for the seconds, hey, it was good to see Charles Tapper back out there, working at left defensive end, with rookie Dorance Armstrong working at right defensive end. The tackles were Daniel Ross and Richard Ash. Also remember, free-agent pickup Kony Ealy will continue rehabbing from rotator cuff surgery this entire offseason. The Cowboys see the defensive end also capable of rushing from inside.

         Offensive Line:Again, another asterisk. Zack Martin and his representatives are making a business decision, holding him out of these OTA workouts while still doing his weight and conditioning work here at The Star. He is not participating in the OTAs in hopes of accelerating the signing of a contract extension since the Pro Bowl guard is in the final year of his rookie contract. So with the right guard missing, from left to right, the Cowboys lined up Tyron Smith, rookie Connor Williams, Travis Frederick, Chaz Green and La’el Collins. In all likelihood, again, as of now, had Martin been at right guard, Green would have been at left guard, basically telling Williams that the second-round draft choice will have to earn the starting job. And as for the free-agent signings, Cam Fleming was working at right tackle with the second-teamers and Marcus Martin at center since the Cowboys are slow-playing the return of Joe Looney from offseason wrist surgery.

         Order Of Things:Here was the rotation at tight end: Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, Rico Gathers, Dalton Schultz and David Wells. Since the Cowboys will be saving Sean Lee from himself again this offseason, free-agent Joe Thomas was taking his place on the weakside, with Jaylon Smith in the middle and Damien Wilson on the strongside. First-round pick Leighton Vander Esch worked as the second-team middle linebacker. The pecking order at wide receiver, again for now, with rookies Michael Gallup and Cedric Wilson paying their dues, was Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson and Cole Beasley. Also note, Tavon Austin is working primarily with the wide receivers.

         Rookie Hookup:Telling you, keep an eye on Gallup. Sure was a nice hookup in a team drill when rookie quarterback Mike White put a deep dime on Gallup on a nine route, the rookie wideout running right past cornerback Duke Thomas to make a fine over-the-head catch.

         Quick Shots:Asked about Byron Jones working on the transition from safety to corner, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said of his progress so far, “It doesn’t seem like a fish out of water.” … As for Vander Esch, Garrett said, “He’s just a dialed in, laser-focused type of guy.” … As for the new rules governing kickoffs, with eight of the 11 guys on the return team having to be positioned within 20 yards of the kickoff and only three guys back, with no two-man blocking wedge, the NFL hoping to cut down on collisions causing concussions, Garrett said, “There is always some unintended consequences” of a new rule. Maybe now teams will try to pop up the ball into the vast empty spaces to the sides of the field. … Welterweight boxing champ Errol Spence Jr., who will defend his title next month out here at Ford Center, attended practice on Wednesday. Man, you can see one of the reasons why the local kid is the current champ: He sure has long arms. Be hard to get inside Shots on him.

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