IRVING, Texas – A myriad of new names and faces took the fields at Valley Ranch on Friday for the first practice of Cowboys rookie minicamp.
Eight of the team's nine draft picks were in attendance, as well as almost 50 unsigned free agents and workout invitees.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett spoke to the media immediately following practice, touching on a variety of topics surrounding the team and its new players.
Here are the highlights:
- Garrett said the point of practice is to see the rookies move around, and "see if we got what we think we got." He added that it's hard to get the full picture after an hour and a half.
- Asked about undrafted free agent Dustin Vaughan, Garrett noted the quarterback's poise.
- The Cowboys have four Baylor players working out in rookie camp, which isn't necessarily an accident. Garrett said the Bears' success under Art Briles gives him confidence in what he's getting from that program.
- First-round draft pick Zack Martin played right guard to start out the day, which Garrett referred to as "just a starting point." Martin played on the left side throughout college, but Garrett said right guard looked like "a natural fit." The Notre Dame's prospect's position flexibility is one of the things that made him appealing to the staff.
- Garrett allowed that a big part of rookie camp is getting to know the new players and learning who they are. With many rookies wearing the numbers of active players, Garrett said it can be an adjustment at first.
- First impressions matter, but Garrett said he wasn't ready to single anyone out for an impressive opening performance.
- Veteran linemen Tyron Smith, Darrion Weems and Doug Free spent time at practice on Friday. Garrett said it's normal for veterans to want to scout the rookie competition. Asked if he thought it was an intimidation tactic for Martin, Garrett laughed and said "Who knows."
- Garrett said DeMarcus Lawrence will get back to Dallas on Friday night after flying home to be with his newborn son. Lawrence will be at practice Saturday and Sunday.
- Ahmad Dixon was absent from the first practice of the weekend, which Garrett attributed to a small groin issue. It remains to be seen if he'll be available for the rest of the weekend.
- Garrett downplayed the fact that the Cowboys brought in several tall receivers – Devin Street is 6-3, L'Damian Washing is 6-3 and Chris Boyd is 6-4 – but he did acknowledge that the passing game has become more physical across the NFL.
- With Scott Linehan taking over the passing game and playcalling duties, Garrett said Bill Callahan will focus more on offensive line this year, as he did during his first year.
- Another important part of rookie camp is to teach habits. Garrett noted that simple behaviors, like chasing after loose balls, are things that take time to learn.
- Garrett said second-year tight end Gavin Escobar has gotten stronger this offseason, but "it's not going to happen overnight."