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Mick Shots: Youth Being Served, Hot Topic, Dr. J & So Much More


FRISCO, Texas –We're at OTA 5 today.

Such were the words of Cowboys head coach on this Wednesday morning here at The Star.

Yes, we were, the Cowboys hitting the halfway point of Organized Team Activities under the grueling – or should we say the *grilling *– sun, the temps hitting the mid-90s, but felt like 102 when the rookie draft choices and free agents came back onto the field for their daily conditioning work around 2:45 p.m.

Welcome to Texas at the end of May folks, or as Garrett said, "It's hot in Texas, been hot in Texas for a long time."

And for these Cowboys, maybe their youth is heaven-sent, since, as Garrett aptly pointed out, "Our team is really young," knowing that only three of 90 players were Thirtysomething: L.P. Ladouceur 37, Sean Lee 31 and Dan Bailey 30.

Not only that, "really young" means of the 90 guys on Wednesday's roster, 61 of them, or 67.7 percent, are no more than 25 years of age. In fact, one of the guys, fourth-round pick Dorance Armstrong, won't turn 21 until June 10.

Where have you gone, Tony Romo?

Keep telling you, these are the New Age Cowboys, so here come your weekly Shots to keep you up to date.

  • Young Bucks: Now you want young, here is the tight end corps: Geoff Swaim, 24, Rico Gathers 24, David Wells 23, Blake Jarwin 23 and fourth-round pick Dalton Schultz 21. But tell you what, not sure if these guys know what they're doing and tight end or know what to do when the season begins, and not taking a shot at Jason Witten here, but this group might be more athletic – have the ability to stretch the defense. So far, Jarwin and Schultz have shown ability to get down field, and, like catch the ball, too.
  • Don't Sleep On: Sure, we hear all about Leighton Vander Esch and Connor Williams, but here are a couple of young guys you shouldn't go to sleep on: Third-round pick Michael Gallup, first-year receiver Lance Lenoir and sixth-round pick Cedrick Wilson. These guys have got something, and if they catch on fast enough, they will make life difficult on some of these other receivers to make the team.
  • Sidelined:Here are some of the guys not going fully through all the OTA drills on this day or not at all:

OG Zack Martin: Contract talks.

OT Tyron Smith: Veteran day/conditioning.

DT Lewis Neal: Hamstring.

DE Charles Tapper: Slight concussion.

WR Terrance Williams: Rehabbing from foot surgery.

DT Maliek Collins: Rehabbing from foot surgery.

DL Kony Ealy: Rehabbing/conditioning after rotator cuff surgery.

C   Joe Looney: Rehabbing from wrist surgery.

DE DeMarcus Lawrence: No team drills, conditioning lower back.

LB Sean Lee: No team drills, conditioning hamstrings.

DT David Irving: Conditioning.

  • New Dr. J: Didn't take Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli long to come up with a nickname for the newly acquired Jihad Ward. Callin' him Dr. J. Not sure the 6-5, 295-pound defensive tackle acquired in the draft-day trade with Oakland reminds him of Hall of Famer Julius Irving. But my guess is just pronouncing Jihad (Juh-HODD) for Marinelli became too confusing, so instead of just calling him J, it's Dr. J, and not so sure Ward, at age 24 has any idea who Dr. Jreally is. But he does know he's darn glad to be with the Cowboys, and is just thankful Marinelli is just calling him something, period. By the way, with Irving (already named Dino) and Collins out, Ward is working with the first-team defense at the three-technique DT, with Datone Jones at the 1.
  • Side Shot: Speaking of basketball, can't help myself, but how in the world does any NBA team – namely professional basketball players, not you or me – miss 27 straight three-pointers and go 7 for 44 from three-point range like the Rockets did in Game 7? I mean, how do you even have the nerve to take 44 three-pointers if you're only making 'em at a 16-percent rate? On top of that, and please, the Warriors' defense wasn't exactly Pistons Bad Boys-esque, how does a professional basketball team in the home nation of basketball, shoot just 36 of 90? Ninety now.
  • Wade Is Gone But . . .: One of former Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips' favorites lines during press conferences when someone would ask a question previously addressed was "Listening is a skill." No kidding, last week, while enjoying peace and quiet in the steam room at the health club, some guy comes rushing in to tell me Green Bay had signed Dez Bryant. I said, when did that happen? He said, just now. I said, that's funny because just yesterday Aaron Rodgers said he couldn't understand why the Packers would want to even sign a veteran receiver after releasing their guy Jordy Nelson. He insisted he heard on the radio Green Bay had just signed Dez. Wade, you're so right, people hear but they don't listen.
  • Quick Shots: One thing noticing in these OTA workouts is Cole Beasley lining up at times on the outside, not solely in the slot. Be one way to have him escape that bracket coverage inside, especially since Allen Hurns can play in there, too . . . Know that T. Will is here rehabbing and has come out to watch some practice, so the Cowboys haven't turned their backs on him during LightPoleGate . . . Good to see running back Darius Jackson back on the roster, signed Wednesday morning. The Cowboys tried to release him off the 53-man roster in 2016, his rookie year, so they could activate veteran back Darren McFadden and then sign back Jackson to the practice squad. But Cleveland claimed him on waivers for the final three games. Jackson spent the 2017 season on IR and was released by the Browns on May 3. The Cowboys really liked their former sixth-round pick, so Bo Scarbrough, beware . . . Not sure how many times we're going to hear questions about this team's "leadership void" with the loss of Witten and Dez, but got a feeling it's about to get old with the players. Said Travis Frederick "the first day back was sort of a shock," not seeing Dez, Witt, Scandrick, Anthony Hitchens, Brice Butler, Alfred Morris, James Hanna et al in the locker room anymore, but now after a couple of weeks "guys have moved on." Quiet shot fired.