IRVING, Texas – For the first time in four months, the Valley Ranch practice fields are full and active.
The Cowboys' three-day rookie minicamp got underway Friday with a combination of draft picks, eligible first-year veterans, rookie free agents and weekend workouts. A total of 54 players are listed for the camp, including all eight picks.
One exception is rookie offensive lineman La'el Collins, who must sit out the camp per NFL rules related to bringing in a free agent for a mid-week visit. Collins signed on Thursday afternoon and is able to return to the team once the camp concludes.
Though the practices aren't live contact, they're a great starting point for the rookies adjusting to the Cowboys' system and working with their respective coaches.
"We'll have a couple days of installation," head coach Jason Garrett said. "It won't be the typical installation we give to our veteran players when it starts, but it will be some version of that. It's important to be able to process information. That's an important part of the evaluation – can the guy learn, does he understand football, can he learn at the pace that we want him to learn at."
For Byron Jones, the 27th overall pick working at cornerback, this is his third trip to Valley Ranch. He came on an official pre-draft visit and returned last weekend to meet the media. But like his new teammates, he hasn't been around an organized practice since the end of his college season.
"You've got to get up to speed. It's different in college," Jones said. "You're getting acclimated, but at the same time you're also learning the Cowboys' system and they do things – how they perform and how they practice."
Eligible first-year players include punter Tom Hornsey, linebacker Will Smith, tight end Efe Obada, long snapper Casey Kreiter, defensive tackle Chris Whaley and offensive tackle R.J. Dill.
The Cowboys officially signed these 15 undrafted free agents:
RB Synjyn Days (Georgia Tech)
WR George Farmer (USC)
WR Antwan Goodley (Baylor)
WR Deontay Greenberry (Houston)
TE Ray Hamilton (Iowa)
WR Nick Harwell (Kansas)
C Shane McDermott (Miami)
G Daniel Quave (Louisiana-Lafayette)
CB Joel Ross (Appalachian State)
S Tim Scott (North Carolina)
QB Jameill Shower (Texas-El Paso)
S Ray Vinopal (Pittsubrgh)
WR Lucky Whitehead (Florida Atlantic)
CB Jason Wilson (Central Michigan)
They also brought in these Weekend Workouts:
WR Der'rikk Thompson (SMU)
QB Brandon Bridge (South Alabama)
CB Travis Manning (Northwest Missouri State)
S Ron Fields (Texas A&M Commerce)
RB Cam McDaniel (Notre Dame)
S Tommy Sanders (Texas A&M)
RB Keshawn Hill (Sam Houston State)
RB Desmond Roland (Oklahoma State
CB Adrian James (UTEP)
CB Valdon Cooper (Georgia Southern)
RB B.J. Catalon (TCU)
RB Kenny Williams (Texas Tech)
TE Justin Podrabsky (Idaho)
LB Marcus Mallett (TCU)
LB Isiah Corbett (Southeastern Louisiana)
LB Donnie Baggs (Texas A&M)
G Nico Carlson (Rice)
DT Isiah Dunning (Grand Valley State)
C Mike Marboe (Idaho)
G Travis Miller (North Dakota State)
T Reshod Fortenberry (Texas Tech)
DT Bryon Bennett (Mississippi)
DT Chucky Hunter (TCU)
DE Gavin Stansbury (Texas A&M)
DE Theo Rich (South Alabama)
The club made several veteran transactions Friday, waiving linebacker Troy Davis and offensive tackle Donald Hawkins, releasing linebacker Dekoda Watson, and placing defensive tackle Josh Brent on the Reserve/Retired list.