Dallas Cowboys Updates

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Updates: Ferguson Takes Advantage Of More Reps

Don't miss any of the action with our daily updates: news, notes and more throughout the Cowboys' regular season. Presented by Blockchain.com

Aug. 15 Updates

12:23 p.m. - When rookie tight end Jake Ferguson got in the game Saturday in Denver, he didn't look like a player who had missed most of camp.

Ferguson was one of the two starting tight ends in the lineup, and caught all three of his targets for 29 yards, including a 19-yard pass-and-catch over the middle.

The fourth-round pick from Wisconsin had been hobbled for over a week with a hamstring injury in Oxnard, but made a big impression on the field.

Ferguson is expected to get more playing time in the preseason, especially with starter Dalton Schultz likely to be limited, if not held out completely until the start of the season.

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Aug. 13 Updates

11:11 p.m. – Rookie wide receiver Jalen Tolbert sees plenty he can improve on following his NFL debut Saturday.

Starting at receiver against the Broncos, Tolbert caught two passes for 10 yards on seven targets from quarterback Cooper Rush. One of those missed targets was a fourth-down drop.

"Just got in there too fast," Tolbert said. "That's something that I've got to work on. That's a learning experience for me. I've got make that play. Next time it comes to me, fourth down or first down, I'm going to make that play.

"I think I won some routes early on and I think that we had our opportunities there. Overall, the outcome didn't come out what we wanted it to be. But we can go back to work and keep competing against each other and come out next week and improve upon what we just put out there."

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6:34 p.m. -- Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said on Pregame Live that first-round draft pick Tyler Smith will get a "load" of snaps in Saturday's preseason opener at Denver, and Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones said on 105.3 The Fan that Smith is expected to start at left guard Saturday, with Connor McGovern starting at right guard in place of All-Pro Zack Martin (rest).

Smith and McGovern have been competing at left guard through the first two weeks of training camp.

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Aug. 12 Updates

11:21 a.m. - The Cowboys didn't seem overly concerned, but veteran tackle Tyron Smith sustained an ankle injury near the end of Thursday's practice with the Broncos.

Smith fought through the injury for most of team drills but eventually was held out for the final plays for precautionary measures.

Injuries have plagued Smith in recent years. He has missed three or more games in every season since 2014, including six last year. While Smith still made his eighth Pro Bowl in 2021, he's been hampered mostly by neck and back issues.

Smith is not expected to play Saturday night against the Broncos, and like could miss all three preseason games to fully prepare for the Sept. 11 opener with the Bucs.

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9:21 a.m. - The rookie defensive tackle has been impressive for most of camp, but he had to leave practice Thursday against Denver with a knee injury.

Ridgeway was able to limp off on his own power, but the Cowboys' medical team held him out for the rest of the practice.

It's unclear on Ridgeway's status for the game, along with tight end Ian Bunting, who had to leave practice with a neck issue.

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Aug. 10 Updates

10:05 a.m. – Head coach Mike McCarthy said safety Jayron Kearse (back) will be hard-pressed to participate in Thursday's joint practice with the Broncos. Kearse has missed the last two practices with back tightness, and the Cowboys are being careful with his workload.

Cornerback Trevon Diggs did not practice Tuesday but has a chance to participate Thursday. McCarthy said Diggs is just dealing with a little soreness and the Cowboys are managing his reps this week.

Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb was held out of team drills Tuesday simply as part of workload management.

McCarthy said linebacker Anthony Barr (Active/Physically Unable to Perform list) will not make his practice debut against the Broncos. Barr, who had been a free agent since March signed last week, is going through a ramp-up period before starting practice.

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9:47 a.m. – Will Grier left practice this week with a groin injury and no decision has been made regarding his status for the coming clash with the Denver Broncos. At best, the second-year QB has a slight chance of playing in the preseason game on Saturday but, at worst, he'll be sidelined entirely – from both the scrimmage and the game itself – head coach Mike McCarthy noting Grier will be evaluated by the team's training staff on Friday. Grier is currently locked in an impressive battle for QB2 with Cooper Rush and an absence would allow more reps for Ben DiNucci.

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Aug. 9 Updates

11:39 a.m. - Cowboys defensive backs coach Joe Whitt will not be attending this week's game in Denver for personal reasons.

The Cowboys sent out an official statement Tuesday morning regarding Whitt Jr., who also serves as the Cowboys' defensive passing game coordinator.

Dallas Cowboys secondary coach/Defensive Pass Game Coordinator Joe Whitt is addressing a privatehealth matter and he will not be traveling with the team to Denver for Saturday's preseason game. He has been absent from practice but he has been participating in meetings with coaches and players.

After Tuesday's practice, Whitt provided more information on his current health status.

"I'm good. I just can't be on the field because right now if I get hit or whatever, it's not the best thing for me," Whitt said. "...But we have a great staff. ... I won't go to Denver and I probably will regain with on-the-field stuff when the team comes back getting ready for the Seattle (preseason) game."

Earlier this week, DC Dan Quinn said it's not a matter of "if, but when" Whitt Jr. eventually becomes a defensive coordinator in the NFL.

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10:22 a.m. – Neither safety Jayron Kearse nor linebacker Luke Gifford participated in practice on Monday, sidelined with a back and groin injury, respectively. Head coach Mike McCarthy stated his expectation that Gifford would be "hard pressed" to return to practice this week – a week that includes travel to Denver on Wednesday for joint practice with the Broncos ahead of the first preseason game on Saturday, Aug. 13.

As for Kearse, it sounds as though he's closer to a possible return this week, but he's set to be evaluated again by the team's training staff on Tuesday before a determination is made. Even if cleared, it's uncertain if Kearse – a key defensive player for the Cowboys – will see much (if any) work in the game against the Broncos.

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10:15 a.m. – The battle for the right to play immediate backup to Dak Prescott is heating up in Cowboys camp, with Cooper Rush and Will Grier leading the charge. Rush has shown consistency but so has Grier, and the latter has often been the arm that launched several of the precision passes that led to highlight plays from receivers such as T.J Vasher and Simi Fehoko.

Mike McCarthy spoke about Grier's progress ahead of Tuesday's practice, pointing at how much "quicker" the second-year QB is playing and in how he's "making plays in and definitely out of the pocket" as the team gets prepped to see both he and Rush take the field against Denver.

The Cowboys listed Rush as the No. 2 QB on their depth chart heading into the Denver game.

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Aug. 8 Updates

4:34 p.m. - The debate over whether first-team All-Pro cornerback Trevon Diggs is one of the best in league or a liability has continued to rage going into the 2022 season – despite his record-tying 11 interceptions in 2021.

When asked about the narrative that Diggs gives up too many yards, Cowboys VP of player personnel Will McClay was unequivocal in his thought on the matter, calling it "click bait", before explaining exactly what Diggs does for the team.

"There are few who do everything at 100% at the top level, and he does Pro Bowl stuff, so [narratives to the contrary] are click bait," said McClay.

Diggs not only led the NFL with 11 interceptions in 16 starts, also tied for first place in pick-sixes (2) and being the league leader in pass deflections (21).

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10:15 a.m. – Don't expect to see Anthony Barr in practice just yet, as the Cowboys allow him to acclimate on the team's active/physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

There are no health concerns on Barr, his stint on PUP to begin his Cowboys career being solely based on ramping him up after – to his own admission – having not played football in "seven or eight months" as he sifted through NFL free agency.

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10:13 a.m. – Jabril Cox has not suffered a setback in his return to the field from a torn ACL suffered in 2021, per head coach Mike McCarthy, and that the team never planned to "have him practice all day, every day," but to instead ease him in deliberately.

Cox participated in individual drills ahead of Saturday's practice and is expected to do the same on Monday – the training staff making the determination thereafter if he'll be present in team drills.

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10:10 a.m. – It's a mixed bag of news for the Cowboys at the tight end position, with rookie fourth-round pick Jake Ferguson making good progress toward potentially returning to practice this week after suffering a tweaked hamstring early last week.

Jeremy Sprinkle, however, is "hard-pressed" to practice this week, per McCarthy, as the veteran rehabs from an inflamed Achilles.

The Cowboys have given extra reps to Sean McKeon, Ian Bunting and rookie Peyton Hendershot.

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10:09 a.m. – The interior defensive line for the Cowboys is led by youth in 2022, but McCarthy believes they can and will all make "the second-year jump," pointing at the progress in both physical stature and technique from both Quinton Bohanna and Chauncey Golston – noting that Bohanna has "been a force" in training camp.

The two upstarts will be tasked with following the lead of Neville Gallimore to help the interior defensive line upgrade over years past.

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Aug. 6 Updates

10:11 a.m. – Jabril Cox is getting close to a return to practice. The former fourth-round pick is currently rehabbing from what's been described by head coach Mike McCarthy as a "ding" to his knee, sidelining him the last several practices. But after participating in the team's mock game on Friday, a format similar to a walkthrough, Cox is set to be worked out ahead of padded practice on Saturday to determine if he'll take the field.

The team is taking a very deliberate approach to easing Cox back into the mix, seeing as he's returning from a torn ACL suffered in 2021 and while the current knee issue is unrelated to that injury, the expectation is for Cox to be a key player in the Cowboys defense in 2022 and, as such, they don't want to force the issue early with him – seeing as there are still several weeks of camp remaining.

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10:15 a.m. – The team is running a bit thin at tight end as the first week of padded practice concludes, with both Jeremy Sprinkle and Jake Ferguson nursing injury that – like Cox – has held them out of several practices. Currently recovering from an inflamed Achilles and hamstring tweak, respectively, the veteran and the rookie fourth-round pick were off to the side during the team's Friday walkthrough, working on resistance bands with the training staff.

Both were moving well, and McCarthy notes they've progressed "quicker" than the team had anticipated they would, giving them a chance at returning to practice next week ahead of the trip to Denver to practice with and then take on the Broncos in their first preseason game. In their absence, there has been no shortage of opportunity for Sean McKeon, Peyton Hendershot and Ian Bunting to step in and impress.

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Aug. 5 Updates

3:11 p.m. – First-round draft pick Tyler Smith is still settling in at left guard – a position he hasn't played since high school – but his natural ability is obvious early in training camp.

"His quickness has jumped off the tape," offensive line coach Joe Philbin said. "He's a very quick guy. He's got that quick-twitch explosiveness. We've definitely seen a lot of that. And I think we'll see more as time goes on."

Smith's strength, particularly as a run blocker, was one of his best assets heading into the draft. Combine that with good movement skills for a 325-pound lineman, and the Cowboys clearly feel good about Smith's potential.

"He's come a long way in a short period of time," Joe Philbin said. "… He was well-coached (in college) – they had a good program at Tulsa – but we're certainly asking him to do some things that he's not as familiar with and he's learning every single day.

"All these opportunities that he gets out here – and our defense does a great job presenting a lot of multiple looks and different pressures, twists. Our guys do a great job of that. So all those things. A lot of times it's the first time he's seen them. I think once we get through this install phase in another day or two I think then he'll really start to settle in a little bit more and can focus more on the fundamentals. The game is fast right now for all these young guys, but he's definitely making strides."

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8:12 a.m. - Trust is obviously a big thing for quarterbacks when it comes to his receivers. Usually, that comes with plenty of reps. But so far, Dennis Houston has earned the trust of Dak Prescott, who has been overly impressed by the undrafted rookie.

"When you break the huddle, he's lining up in the right spot, no matter what position he's in. He's where I expect him to be on each and every play," Prescott said. "He's just a tough guy - very resilient. I might say, 'hey, did the DB hold you right there' and he's like 'ahh, I've got to make the play.' When you that response from a young guy like that, not making excuses and trying to help the team in any way that he can, it makes you excited."

Houston is one of several young players getting more reps now with a few injuries to the veteran receivers. At times, he finds himself working with the first-team. On Thursday, there were several plays in which he faced the other No. 3 - veteran Anthony Brown - and even caught a few passes to move the chains.

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Aug. 4 Updates

10:37 a.m. - The tight end room will continue to be thin to end the week, with both Jeremy Sprinkle and Jake Ferguson joining linebacker Jabril Cox in being held out of practice. But, unlike Cox, it appears both the veteran and rookie fourth-round pick may be out a bit longer - Mike McCarthy noting an expectation of neither suiting up to end the first week of padded practice. Sprinkle and Ferguson are nursing an Achilles issue (inflammation) and hamstring tweak, respectively, which puts an eye on possibly returning next week, but that is still to-be-determined.

Ferguson, a newcomer expected to challenge for the role of TE2 in camp, will now see his (and Sprinkle's) reps handed over to Sean McKeon, Peyton Hendershot and Ian Bunting. McKeon has the inside track to landing the seat directly behind Dalton Schultz, but Hendershot (a rookie himself) has made noticeable progress in camp and the added reps will give him a chance to show what he can do. The same goes for Bunting, a young player who desperately wants to find a way onto the final roster at the end of August.

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10:08 a.m. - Jabril Cox is being managed with great caution in his return from a season-ending torn ACL suffered in 2021. The former fourth-round pick said he's "ready to go" physically, at the outset of training camp, but he's currently being eased back into practice after "dinging" his knee earlier this week - per head coach Mike McCarthy. Cox was absent from the team's second padded practice that took place on Tuesday, and will again be held out when the third padded practice gets underway on Thursday.

McCarthy stated Cox is "doing good" and is scheduled to return to the field on Saturday, with Friday essentially mirroring the format from Wednesday, when the Cowboys treated their mock game as more of a walkthrough. The second-year linebacker will be expected to make a big impact for the club in 2022, despite the addition of four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Anthony Barr, the latter having agreed to terms on a one-year deal but who is also still working his way through the signing process before he can suit up for practice.

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10:32 a.m. – Head coach Mike McCarthy confirmed that the Cowboys will only have three running backs available for practice Thursday (Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard and rookie Malik Davis) because Rico Dowdle and rookie Aaron Shampklin (COVID-19) are currently unable to practice.

In May, the NFL and NFLPA lifted its COVID protocols for players and staff, but a player with a positive test still must isolate for five days minimum.

"It's definitely something that we're conscious of and have a plan on how to deal with it. I give a lot of credit to (head athletic trainer) Jim (Maurer)," McCarthy said.

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Aug. 3 Updates

12:38 p.m. - There are questions a'plenty on if Tony Pollard will see more reps as a receiver following the injury to James Washington, and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore dangled a rather sizable carrot on that front on Wednesday. Moore stated the intention going forward is to expand Pollard's reps beyond "the running back route tree" and went so far as to point at Pollard's ability to challenge opposing defenses "vertically", both landing as strong hints at what might be to come for the fourth-year halfback.

Time will tell if this all comes to fruition, however, because it's currently early August and the young corps of receivers will be given the bulk of the receiving reps as a means of determining how the regular season depth chart should shake out and/or if the Cowboys need to dip back into free agency to add another veteran at the position. But, at least for now, there are hopes of scheming Pollard in space far more often in what will be his contract year with the club.

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12:24 p.m. - Markquese Bell continues to be a name to watch in training camp, and probably more so going forward, as defensive coordinator Dan Quinn not only praised the "hungry" undrafted safety but went as far as stating the team's intention of potentially playing him in a hybrid role. That might involve Bell moving fluently between the safety and linebacker position - similar to re-signed veteran safety Jayron Kearse - to ensure Bell's skill set is being fully utilized as early as Year 1 in Dallas.

This makes the signing of four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Anthony Barr that much more interesting, considering Barr is expected to garner a hefty amount of playing time in tandem with Micah Parsons and Jabril Cox, and that means the more clear way to look at Bell would be in the specific lane of Kearse: a tight end stopper who can spell the veteran as needed.

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9:45 a.m. - Rookie linebacker Aaron Hansford was released on Wednesday, just after he passed a physical to get off the PUP list. Hansford opened practice injured and spent the first week rehabbing.

Despite being healthy, the Cowboys have decided to part ways with Hansford, which opens up a spot on the 90-man roster.

Hansford was a rookie free agent from Texas A&M. The Cowboys still have two other rookie linebackers in sixth-round pick Devin Harper and undrafted free agent Storey Jackson.

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Aug. 2 Updates

1:57 p.m.- Jabril Cox was absent on Tuesday with what head coach Mike McCarthy described as a "dinged knee", but McCarthy emphasized it's "nothing serious" and that the team decided to take a precautionary approach on Cox ahead of the second padded practice. The former fourth-round pick is slated to return on Thursday, following the mock game on Wednesday, to allow an added day of rest. Cox is returning from a torn ACL that ended his rookie season in 2021 but did not begin training camp on the team's physically unable to perform (PUP) list - then noting himself that he is "ready to go" for 2022.

He'll be looked upon heavily to make an impact this coming season as the definitive complement at linebacker to Micah Parsons, and has the skill set to be just that for the Cowboys. His health will be paramount in seeing that come to fruition, however, and both he and club fully understand that point.

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1:52 p.m. - Mike McCarthy echoed the sentiment of owner Jerry Jones in that the Cowboys are digging into their analysis of the young receiving corps going forward, as opposed to seeking assistance in NFL free agency - following the loss of wideout James Washington for upwards of 10 weeks due to a Jones fracture suffered in Monday's practice. While Jones stated there is no sense of urgency "at all" to sign a veteran replacement, McCarthy agreed that is "not my focus", and the two are in lockstep on "seeing the young guys improve" over the remainder of training camp.

That said, McCarthy did put a bit of a proverbial pin in the discussion, also noting that any type of potential player acquisition is currently "to be determined". That, at minimum, leaves the door open for the possibility of adding a free agent receiver down the road, in the event the development of the group of young upstarts behind CeeDee Lamb doesn't go according to plan.

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Aug. 1 Updates

12:58 p.m. - Not long after James Washington left the field on a cart, the Cowboys got another scare when Jayron Kearse walked off the field and into the locker room momentarily. A big ovation came from the fans when Kearse ran back onto field and continued practice.

Kearse said he stepped awkwardly during a drill and tweaked his knee but was never overly concerned. "I tried to plant but my foot was too wide," Kearse said. "Maybe (it would be scary) for everyone else. But for me, I knew what it was. I didn't hear anything. I knew it wasn't a big deal."

Kearse is in his second season with the Cowboys, flourishing in a hybrid role that has him playing both safety and linebacker.

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12:05 p.m. — Wide receiver James Washington exited practice on a medical cart after appearing to injure his foot during Monday's practice.

Washington was competing against cornerback Trevon Diggs on a jump ball play and came up limping. He tried to put pressure on his foot but the team brought out the cart.

The severity of Washington's injury is unknown. Check back for more updates after practice.

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10:37 a.m. – First-round draft pick Tyler Smith worked as a "left-side player" in the spring, working at both guard and tackle, but he has exclusively practiced at left guard so far in training camp.

Head coach Mike McCarthy says the team will continue to let Smith focus on guard, where he's competing with Connor McGovern on the left side.

"We really had that talk after the spring. I probably played him too much at tackle than guard," McCarthy said. "You've got to watch and don't overreact to spring football too because those guys are at a bit of a disadvantage, plus it's new, the pace is new. That could equate to some football where he's a tad late, a half-step off.

"I think if we can keep him in one spot and let him get comfortable there, I think then his flexibility will definitely benefit from having a good foundation."

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10:30 a.m. – Expect to see a lot more kicking in practice this week. Every practice, in fact.

Rookie Jonathan Garibay and Lirim Hajrullahu kicked for the first time in practice Saturday, with Garibay making 4 of 8 field goals and Hajrullahu making 7 of 8.

With the kicker job wide open, head coach Mike McCarthy wants more evaluation time for both candidates.

"I was their first time in front of a crowd but also with the protection and the rush behind them. It's not what they were looking for. I think the thing that I walked away from practice is we need to do more of it. ... We've got to make sure we give those guys more opportunities."

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July 30 Updates

3:46 p.m. - Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones continues the train of high marks for second-round pick Sam Williams. The rookie defensive end has already garnered high marks from players like All-Pro pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, who stated Williams has "more tools" in his toolbox than he's currently aware of and, importantly, Lawrence believes Williams can be a Day 1 contributor.

For his part, Jones echoes the sentiment, noting how Williams "has jumped out" in both minicamp and the start of training camp -- something that bodes well for the possibility of Williams continuing to progress en route to potentially being awarded hefty playing time in his first year with the club.

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3:45 p.m. - If you haven't seen Markquese Bell play just yet, you likely will soon. The undrafted rookie from Florida A&M is already making waves in the defensive back group, and Stephen Jones stated the rookie "keeps showing up" in team drills and in his preparation.

Additionally, Jones gave a bit of an early nod to Bell, whom he said has "a good shot at making the roster" in September, adding that "it's good to have one of those" every summer.

Bell should get plenty of works in the preseason, which begins on Aug. 13 in Denver.

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July 29 Updates

10:41 a.m. - Do not expect to see quarterback Dak Prescott in the first two preseason outings against the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers, respectively, with head coach Mike McCarthy unofficially putting that idea to bed.

When asked if he's going to play in those games, McCarthy had a long pause before pointing out "Dak will practice a lot" against the Broncos and Chargers.

McCarthy did leave open the possibility of starting Prescott in the preseason finale -- when the Seattle Seahawks visit AT&T Stadium.

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10:31 a.m. - Head coach Mike McCarthy describes former fourth-round pick Jabril Cox as "bright, smooth, quicker and faster than you think", going on to note what they saw in Cox during limited time as a rookie -- prior to suffering a torn ACL -- was also a driving force in the decision to release Jaylon Smith.

Although Cox was not placed on the PUP list because of the injury, McCarthy has also said they will be smart with Cox and his practice schedule.

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10:28 a.m. - The team feels "much better" about where they are at the safety position as compared to this time last year, per head coach Mike McCarthy, who made a note to shower praise upon former Florida A&M standout Markquese Bell -- a UDFA signing in 2022 -- who is off to an impressive start that includes what he showed in minicamp.

Bell has been working with the No. 2 defense at safety, but has the ability to play both free and strong safety. That versatility is one of the reasons the Cowboys were so excited to sign him after the draft.

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10:25 a.m. - Wearing the No. 1 jersey, Kevin Joseph is having a good camp in what might be a season wherein the Cowboys expect him to be much more of an impact player, with head coach Mike McCarthy "looking for him to make the [second-year] jump" after showing flashes of his ability when looked upon as a rookie in 2021.

The second-round pick from Kentucky in 2021, Joseph had just two starts last year but will be battling for playing time with the regular starters at corner, including Trevon Diggs, Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis.

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8 a.m. – After choosing not to participate in last week's final set of voluntary OTAs, tight end Dalton Schultz is expected to return for this week's mandatory minicamp, which starts with practice Tuesday.

Schultz, currently on the one-year, $10.9 million franchise tag, is seeking a multi-year contract with the Cowboys. Both sides have until July 15 to negotiate a new deal or Schultz must play the season on the tag.

Head coach Mike McCarthy said last week that he understood Schultz's absence was simply a "business" decision, but wasn't sure if he'd be back for practice this week.

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