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Nick Harris

New OC, Quinn & Fassel Discuss Rookie Minicamp 

Dallas Cowboys Rookie Minicamp | 2022
Dallas Cowboys Rookie Minicamp | 2022

FRISCO, Texas - The final day of rookie mini-camp wrapped up on Saturday afternoon as the 29-player group of draft picks and undrafted free agents from both 2023 and a select few from 2022 hit the field for the first time to get work in with the coaching staff minus Mike McCarthy who was out for the day after having a back procedure on Friday.

The day mostly consisted of positional work and seeing what each player could bring a physical, movement and technical perspective on the field.

Maximizing the Potential

Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was ecstatic talking about the opportunity to coach up the group over the weekend as it allowed for his first look at some of the prospects he had been evaluating all offseason.

"This is absolutely one of my favorite times of the year to help train these guys and see what they can become and the vision they have," Quinn said. "I told them just the other day that it's a dream job, but it's not easy."

Intriguing acquisitions, whether by signing or by drafting, have been added to what was already a stellar defense from 2022, and Quinn is looking forward to maximizing the skills of what's coming in paired with what is already in the room.

"I love this group and this team, I love being on the journey with them," he said. "Having guys enter this brotherhood is the fun part. Whether it's [Stephon Gilmore] or [Mazi Smith], it's not about how they got into the room, it's about what they're gonna do with it. Now that they're here, it's our job to find the unique stuff that they have and make it come to life."

A Special Opportunity

Special teams coordinator John Fassel has an interesting summer ahead of him with both the opening at kicker and the holes that have been opened on special teams with the departures of Noah Brown and Luke Gifford. While those holes do exist, he's excited about the options he has available to step up and fill those roles.

"We've talked about that with our vets and with our rookies," Fassel said. "Noah [Brown] was a fantastic special teams guy for us, [Luke] Gifford was one of the best in the league. The door opens for someone to come in and fill that, whether it's [Devin] Harper, [Jabril] Cox, Damone [Clark], [DeMarvion] Overshown, [Tyrus] Wheat, Isaiah [Land] or any of the guys we have in here."

"Then at receiver, I think that's gonna be an awesome competition for Noah's role. Whether it's [Jalen] Tolbert, [Dennis] Houston, [Dontario Drummond], [David] Durden, [Jalen] Cropper or any of the guys we have. They know it's an open competition. There will be some really cool battles."

Deuce Vaughn is also a new addition that Fassel is excited to get integrated into potentially all four phases of the special teams game, as his speed and size can be used in multiple roles.

"We'll see how he does," he said. "I project him getting some punt return work in, some kick return work in, I think there's a role for him in punt protection. Like everybody, we'll see what he can do on kickoff."

Change on Offense

Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is taking in his new role by working side-by-side with Mike McCarthy to construct a new offense with the personnel in the building and the skills associated with each of their playmakers.

While the process has been a "grind" for most of the offseason, the excitement building with each day has been building for what's ahead in 2023.

"It's been a grind, it's been fun," Schottenheimer said. "The system is not broken, they've won a lot of games here and scored a lot of points. I have a ton of respect for Kellen, Nuss, Skip and Philbin."

"In terms of the process, we're getting organized for OTAs. We're 12 concept-teach days in and then when we get into OTAs, we'll get into install with those specific formations and we'll tweak those before we get to training camp."

A huge part of the new construction has been figuring out more ways to maximize Dak Prescott's potential, as Schottenheimer gets the opportunity to develop him after years of being on the other side of the sideline.

"I've always admired him from afar," he said. "Competed against him many times. I love the man, I love the work ethic. He's a tireless preparer. The way guys follow him, the way he wants to be coached, the way he wants to be open-minded from a fundamental standpoint, things like that. That shows you the sign of a true winner and a champion."

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