ORLANDO – As a former first-round pick in 2015, the expectation was for Byron Jones to eventually make the Pro Bowl.
And while he finally made it here in his fourth season, the cornerback is making the most of his time here in Orlando, and it goes much further than the practice field.
It sounds like Jones is already working on how to make this Pro Bowl experience a regular thing.
Jones said he's been busy picking the brains of more established defensive backs.
"It's really cool. It's cool to be around some of the best guys in the league," Jones said. "I'm asking guys like Patrick Peterson and Malcolm Jenkins just all these questions about how they take care of their bodies, or what they do in the offseason. I'm learning a lot of information from a lot of different people."
Jones said he certainly thought he would be at the Pro Bowl at some point, but realizes now what it takes to get here.
"It's understanding how hard it is to be good in this league," Jones said. "There's a lot of work that goes into. It's not something that is given. Some people may look and say that's easy but everyone has their own individual battles that we're trying fight, scratch and claw to be at this level. It's a blessing to be here."
But Jones knows he must improve and that can start with turnovers, as Jones was the first defensive back in franchise history to make the Pro Bowl without getting an interception.
"For me it's getting turnovers and creating interceptions and things like that," Jones said. "There's so much room for improvement for me. That's the beautiful part of it. That's what I'm exciting about next year. Let me see what I can look like in my second year."
Byron Being Selfish
Byron Jones is definitely appreciative of what secondary coach Kris Richard has done for his career. But he openly admits that he is happy Richard is coming back for a second year. However, that was in question when Richard interviewed for three head coaching jobs last month. However, he was passed over by the Jets, Dolphins and Bucs, keeping Richard back for another year.
"Are you kidding? Of course. Yeah, you do want him to do well but I'm selfish," Jones said. "(To Richard) I need you here. I want you here for another year. We've got young guys in the room that love him. We're blessed to have him. To have him for at least two years, it's going to be incredible."
Views from the NFC Pro Bowl teams Friday's practice as they prepare for the Pro Bowl 19 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, FL.
Still Got the Coach
For the first time in six years, the Cowboys don't have an offensive lineman playing in the Pro Bowl. But at least they've got the coach in Marc Colombo, who took over as the O-line coach in midseason.
More importantly, Colombo got a new contract after the season to make sure he remains on the coaching staff in 2019.
"It's amazing that the Jones family has been so good to me," Colombo said. "They said they would take care of me and they did. I'm really fortunate to be able to stay here. This is the place I want to be. I love the group and the offensive line. I love living here and everything about being a Dallas Cowboy."
Colombo said it's "a little weird" this week not coaching any of his players. Both Tyron Smith and Zack Martin were named Pro Bowlers but didn't make the trip because of injuries.
Pro Bowl Week | Day 2
ORLANDO - The Cowboys have a large contingent at the Pro Bowl, from the coaching staff to a half-dozen players.
Check out some news and notes from the first practice on Wednesday.
D-Law Still Bitter
DeMarcus Lawrence still isn't over the loss to the Rams, stating he still has a "bitter taste" that will take a while to get over. When asked what he's done the last week, D-Law admitted his routine.
"Stay in Dallas, get mad, play video games, sit down on the couch, get mad again, try to find some ways to burn some energy," said Lawrence, who still can't believe his team couldn't stop the run against the Rams. "We've been working on that all year, trying to be the most dominant defense. That day, we didn't live up to our expectations and to our abilities. I feel like the Rams did a great job spacing us out and opening up the gaps and bringing their guards up to the next level to our linebackers. They did a great job of film study and game-planning."
Views from the NFC Pro Bowl teams Thursday's practice as they prepare for the Pro Bowl 19 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, FL.
Dak Says Improvement Starts Within
Dak Prescott might have been a late addition to the Pro Bowl, and even a late arrival. But even though Thursday was his first practice of the week, he was still the center of attention. And especially considering the Cowboys have so many question marks surrounding the coaching staff and a vacant offensive coordinator position.
"I'm excited about what we're doing and whoever it is we are going to have," Prescott said. "I'm just excited about getting better and doing the things we need to do."
When asked if Dak was contacted by Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett about the team's decision to part ways with OC Scott Linehan, Prescott said there was a discussion. However, he said the Cowboys didn't come to him for advice on the matter.
"I wouldn't necessarily say that," Prescott said. "I knew something would happen one way or another. I wasn't sure what exactly what would happen. But I truly appreciate Scott Linehan. I don't know if words can honestly express it. He drafted me and helped me my first three years get here. I'm so thankful for him."
Prescott had high praise for Kellen Moore, who is one of the leading candidates to run the offense next year. But whoever it is, Prescott knows he has a job to do.
"My No. 1 goal is to get better myself," he said. "I know the guys around me are trying to get better. The front office is trying to give us the best team we can get. I'm excited about next year."
Pro Bowl Week | Day 1
ORLANDO -The Cowboys have a large contingent at the Pro Bowl from the coaching staff to a half-dozen players.
Check out some news and notes from the first practice on Wednesday.
Kellen's New Role?
Considering nothing has been finalized, you can imagine that Kellen Moore was rather tight-lipped about his next role on the Cowboys' coaching staff.
When asked at the Pro Bowl on Wednesday, Moore, who is currently the team's quarterback coach, sounded optimistic about some positive changes for him, but wouldn't get specific.
"I don't know … we'll see," Moore said. "We're just kind of letting this thing play out. So I'll just help in any way possible."
Moore has been rumored to be a leading candidate for the vacant offensive coordinator position or perhaps the passing game coordinator.
And since the team has also brought down Jon Kitna to Orlando in what has been reported to be the next QB coach, it would make sense Moore is getting some kind of promotion on the staff.
"Yeah, we'll see how it plays out. Yeah, obviously I love it down (in Dallas)," Moore said. "It's a good group. We're heading in the right direction. We have to keep building on it. "
Views from the NFC Pro Bowl teams Wednesday's practice as they prepare for the Pro Bowl 19 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, FL.
Next To His Idol?
As soon as Leighton Vander Esch was old enough to get social media accounts, he started following his favorite football players.
And for a kid who grew up in Idaho and wanting to be a linebacker, Vander Esch made sure to keep track of Seattle's Bobby Wagner.
Now, the Cowboys' rookie is playing next to him at the Pro Bowl.
"This is really amazing," Vander Esch said. "Seeing Bobby Wagner here and getting to play with him.
"I've followed him on Instagram and Twitter, as soon as I got on them. He was one of the first guys that I really, really followed throughout my football journey. Just to play with him and talk to him. I traded jerseys with him after the playoff game. This is just awesome. I can learn a lot from him."
Vander Esch replaced Carolina's Luke Kuechly as one of the NFC's inside linebackers.
Kitna in Orlando
Former Cowboys quarterback Jon Kitna is already working with the coaching staff from Orlando. While the team has yet to officially announce his exact position, it has been speculated that Kitna would coach the quarterbacks, he position he played in the NFL for 16 years, including two full seasons with the Cowboys.
However, Kellen Moore is the current QB coach although he is one of the candidates to become either offensive coordinator passing game coordinator.
The Cowboys parted ways with Scott Linehan last week after four seasons running the offense.
Late Arrivals for 214
Two of the biggest names here at the Pro Bowl were not in attendance for Wednesday's first practice.
Both Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott are expected to fly into Orlando later on Wednesday and will be available for Thursday's practice.
After Wednesday's practice, QB coach Kellen Moore said not to worry.
"He (Dak) is headed this way," Moore said with a big smile. "Him and Zeke are heading this way. I think they'll be able to figure out this playbook pretty easily."
Prescott was a late addition Monday night to replace Drew Brees. He will be among three NFC quarterbacks along with Mitchell Tribusky and Russell Wilson.
Zeke did not make his scheduled flight on Tuesday and will join running backs Saquon Barkley and Alvin Kamara for the next practice.