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Weekend Notebook: DT Depth, Tavon Austin's Role?


FRISCO, Texas –With the Cowboys going through the second day of their rookie minicamp, there was plenty of activity at The Star.

Here's a handful of notes from Saturday's proceedings, including rookie walkthroughs and updates on veteran players.

McClain Moving On

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett spoke at length on Friday about the possibility of bringing Terrell McClain back into the fold. Moments after those comments, McClain opted to sign with the Atlanta Falcons – one of several other teams that had been pursuing the veteran free agent.

"There's a lot of factors that go into the decisions that teams make and players make when they're deciding on a team," Garrett said on Saturday. "Again, we wanted him here, but different factors played into it for him and he decided to go to Atlanta."

The Cowboys had already been interested in McClain as added depth to their defensive tackle position. The news that Maliek Collins is likely to miss as much as three months with a broken foot may bring some added urgency to the search.

Garrett wishes McClain well with the Falcons, but added that the Cowboys might not be done looking to address the position.

"If not him, we'll try to find other ways to help that defensive line," he said.

Gallup's Opportunity

For the first time since 2010, the Cowboys' receiving group doesn't start with Dez Bryant. For the first time since 2003, the tight end position isn't led by Jason Witten.

"Competition" and "opportunity" are the buzzwords radiating from The Star in relation to creating – here's another catchphrase – a "Dak-friendly passing game."

Third-round pick Michael Gallup, the rookie receiver out of Colorado State, believes "there's definitely an opportunity" to find a role within a revamped receiver depth chart that now includes veteran newcomers Allen HurnsDeonte Thompson and Tavon Austin.

Just because the rotation is unsettled doesn't mean Gallup has a clear path to snaps. He knows he'll have to earn it.

"I wouldn't say it's easier because it's a little bit challenging trying to come in here and learn everything right off the bat," Gallup said. "But definitely there's spots that need to be filled. That's an eye-opener for me. I'll come in here and do my best and hopefully make the squad and find my role on the team."

Tavon Austin's Role?

On draft weekend the Cowboys traded a sixth-round pick to the L.A. Rams for Tavon Austin, a speedy skill player with 12 career receiving touchdowns and 9 rushing touchdowns since joining the Rams as a first-round pick in 2013.

How does Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan envision Austin's potential role? As a receiver? A running back? Both?

"We use him for a lot of things," Linehan said. "He's a receiver first. He's really in a lot of ways, some of his skill set is as an outside receiver, which is really unique. But he can move around (to the) slot. He can certainly have carries as well as catches from those positions. He can move into the backfield at times. He's done that his whole career. He can move into the backfield and hopefully get a matchup where he can run a route that's typically run by a running back.

"The goal as you play him is to have him in there for meaningful plays and he could be the No. 1 target or he might be the guy that all eyes are on that you're really doing something else. It's going to be fun to see that. He's been doing some really good things while he's been in the league. We had a vision for him coming out in the draft, I remember years ago in Detroit. It's going to be exciting having him on our team."