Notes: Looking at Veteran RB; Camp Coverage, Injuries, More

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IRVING, Texas – Injuries never seem far away when the Cowboys are practicing, and that proved true with the team's latest batch of rookies Friday at Valley Ranch.

Seventh-round safety selection Ahmad Dixon did not participate in either rookie camp practice Friday after straining his hip, an injury he said he sustained at the Senior Bowl this past January. Dixon attended both workouts, but he didn't wear a helmet or get involved with the defensive backs.

The injury clearly isn't something that bothers the Cowboys, as they signed Dixon to his rookie contract on Friday, and team executive vice president Stephen Jones advised patience in this early stage of the offseason.

"This is early. It's too early to be disappointed or too happy about anything just yet," Jones said. "Let's wait till we get to training camp, get a weekend of training camp, and we'll start getting either happy or disappointed."

Several other players also pulled out of practice, albeit not with as high of a profile as Dixon.

Defensive tackle Maurice Couch was carted off the field early in the morning session with an unknown leg injury. Safety Marvin Robinson and offensive tackle Darius Morris also hobbled off during the afternoon practice, and running back Josh Harris appeared to tweak something, as well. Guard Andre' Cureton appeared to injure his shoulder during one-on-one work.


-        David Helman

Camp Coverage Continues

The work week had concluded for the vast majority of people – outside of the 32 NFL practice facilities, at least.

The Cowboys' rookie camp continues Saturday morning from Valley Ranch with a pair of practices and media availability. Notably, second-round pick DeMarcus Lawrence will take the field for the first time as a Cowboy after missing Friday's practices to be with his newborn son.

Saturday's action will feature live updates, both on the site and on Twitter, from staff writers Rowan Kavner, Nick Eatman and David Helman. Analyst Bryan Broaddus will also offer fans a Live Look-In, breaking down the team period of practice.

Jason Garrett's Saturday press conference can be seen here, on demand.

-        David Helman

New RB To Work Out

While rookie running backs continue to practice, a veteran running back will work out privately for the Cowbys on Saturday.

Former Arizona running back Ryan Williams will be at Valley Ranch this weekend for a private workout. Williams, formerly the 38th overall pick by the Cardinals in the 2011 NFL Draft, was released on May 12 after three seasons with the team.

Williams missed his entire rookie season after he tore a tendon in his patella in the 2011 preseason. He also suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in 2012, and he was inactive for all 16 Arizona games last season.

To date, he has 58 carries for 164 yards in five appearances.

-        David Helman

Street's Smarts

One bright spot from Friday's proceedings was the early impression of Devin Street. The fifth-round wide receiver got plenty of looks in the unpadded practice, spending time both in the slot and on the outside.

One of the talking points surrounding the Pitt wideout has been his experience in various positions across the field. Granted, it was two no-contact practices, but the rookie looked capable of handling plenty just five days after arriving at Valley Ranch.


"Devin, what impressed us, was how polished he was in the realness of his route inventory," said Cowboys wide receivers coach Derek Dooley. "What that means is, he played a lot of different positions, he ran a lot of different routes and he ran them well. That has really helped him transition in this pro-style offense."

Street is located right next to Dez Bryant in the Cowboys' locker room – at least for the time being. Asked if he thought that was a coincidence, the rookie laughed and said no. Street marveled at Bryant's work ethic, and said it's a quality he intends to share.

"I think I did well, but there's a lot more I want to do. I want to go out there and try to be perfect every time I go out there, and I have a long way to go -- long way to go," he said.

-        David Helman

Healing Up

Many of the Cowboys' recent defensive line signings still need to get healthy.

Amobi Okoye, who missed last season with an undisclosed medical issue, is the latest. The Cowboys took chances on Okoye, Henry Melton and Anthony Spencer hoping they can get back to the level of production they had prior to their respective injuries.

They did the same by signing undrafted free agent Chris Whaley, who's coming off a knee injury.

"If he gets back from them, then Amobi can play," Jones said. "He played very well for Rod (Marinelli). Obviously, we've got somebody who knows him well. The bigger question with him's just going to be his medical history as well. A lot of these guys we're well aware of, but when you're a little bit like we are on the defensive line after what we just went through, you've got to put a lot of hooks in the water.

"We need numbers, and we'll probably go heavy there in camp, and you get a couple of these guys come through for us. Obviously, a guy like Whaley, same ilk as Melton, a running back at Texas converted to defensive line. Rod certainly liked his movement skills and the things he brought to the table, but he's another guy that's going to take some time."

Jones and the Cowboys' staff made the deals knowing they'd have to be patient.

"Obviously, if you're talking about Spencer, Whaley, Amobi, those guys, they're not going to be in the mix early," he said. "So you're looking at some other guys, and hopefully you're working through who's the cream of that crop. You've got some plans for each one of them, but obviously we know exactly what Anthony and Henry can do, and we know what Amobi can do if he can get healthy."

-Rowan Kavner

First Look

He's been in Dallas less than a week, but executive vice president Stephen Jones likes what he's seen off the bat from first-round pick Zack Martin.

"Impressive," Jones said. "Certainly looks like he's everything he's billed up to be on the first look, but we're only two practices into it in shorts, so a little early to get too excited."

Martin's in the midst of a transition from left tackle to guard, and he said inside with everything closer together, he needs to work on having tighter footwork.

He said he pretty much feels like a freshman and at the bottom of the totem pole again. He said he's been able to meet and work with veterans, and he's enjoyed learning from offensive line coach Bill Callahan.

"He's a great teacher, very into detail," Martin said. "If a little thing's off, he's going to correct you. He's very detail-oriented, and you have to pay attention to what you're doing on the field."

-        Rowan Kavner

Lacking Confidence?

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli's not into nursing anyone's confidence, or lack thereof. [embedded_ad]

As the Cowboys switched to a 4-3 defense, many wondered whether or not it was a confidence issue that slowed the progress of linebacker Bruce Carter. But Marinelli said that's not what he's there to control for any player.

"I don't do confidence stuff," Marinelli said.  "Get down and play. Here's your alignment, assignment, key. We want you to play fast. We want you to take the ball away.

"It's a man's game. Let's go. Let's play it the right way out here. That's what I want. We're going to coach it, we'll coach it hard, be where you're supposed to be and here's what we expect, and then go."

Marinelli said at the end of the year the coaches make "get better" reels on every player, noting exactly how each player can improve.

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