Dallas Cowboys: OTA

W2W4: Cowboys veteran minicamp

June, 10, 2013
The Cowboys conclude their offseason work with a three-day mandatory veteran minicamp that starts Tuesday.

ESPN senior NFL analyst Ed Werder joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss another busy week for the Cowboys at Valley Ranch.

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Who will participate: It's mandatory, so if you don't have an excused absence, players will be fined. So expect 89 players in attendance. Why 89? Defensive tackle Josh Brent is on the reserve/non-football illness list and didn't attend any of the organized team activities this offseason. Brent is awaiting trail for an intoxication manslaughter charge resulting in the death of practice squad player Jerry Brown. Fullback Lawrence Vickers (back surgery) will be in attendance, but will be limited to rehab work. Quarterback Tony Romo (back) and defensive end DeMarcus Ware (shoulder) are not expected to practice as they continue to heal. Several others might also be given some time off, including WR Miles Austin, DT Jay Ratliff and guards Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau. RB Joseph Randle, the team's fifth-round pick, has a cast on his thumb and is out.

Who needs the minicamp? Center Travis Frederick was getting first-team reps over Phil Costa during OTAs and that might continue this week. Frederick is projected as the starter, and the more practice time he gets, the better. Safety Matt Johnson, who missed all of last season with hamstring injuries, got first-team reps with Barry Church during OTAs over veteran Will Allen, who was getting some rest. Johnson has to prove he can become the playmaker the Cowboys thought they had when he was drafted in the fourth round last year. With Ware out, DE Kyle Wilber needs snaps as he was moved from outside linebacker to end this offseason to add depth. Wilber's ability to play end will dictate how much playing time he receives in 2013.

So the playcaller is? The biggest offseason secret was revealed last week when Bill Callahan confirmed he'll call the offensive plays. One problem: Coach Jason Garrett hasn't confirmed it, despite owner/general manager Jerry Jones implying it last week. Garrett most likely will be asked about the play-calling situation again this week. It will be interesting to see if he confirms anything.

Players worth watching: Guards Ronald Leary, Kevin Kowalski and David Arkin; wide receivers Danny Coale, Eric Rogers and Cole Beasley; running back Phillip Tanner and tight end Dante Rosario; right tackles Doug Free and Jermey Parnell.

What to watch: Cowboys OTAs

May, 21, 2013
The Dallas Cowboys are one of several NFL teams beginning organized team activities this week. The OTAs are non-contact, three-days-a-week practices over the next three weeks. These practices are not in pads, nor are they mandatory. Some players will attend some of the OTAs, if not all of them.

Here's a primer:

Nate Newton joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his comments on how Jason Garrett should handle being on the hot seat and not let Jerry Jones get in the way.

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Who will be there? There's an expectation that the entire team will attend at least the first day of OTAs. However, some players are recovering from injuries and might not participate. Quarterback Tony Romo is out three weeks after undergoing minor surgery on his back to remove a cyst and won't participate. Defensive end DeMarcus Ware (shoulder and elbow) might be limited in some fashion for the OTAs, while Sean Lee (toe), Jay Ratliff (sports hernia) and Orlando Scandrick (hand) will be full participants. Rookies who are still finishing up with school are not allowed to participate. Safety Matt Johnson was in this situation last year.

What are the rules? Players can wear helmets and other equipment, but no shoulder pads. Teams can have 11-on-11 drills, special teams and 7-on-7 drills. Players can practice for up to two hours. If a player gets hurt and is released, the team will reach an injury settlement. In some cases, depending on the player, the team will guarantee his base salary.

What we're watching? We know the defensive starters except at safety. The main candidates are Barry Church, Will Allen, Danny McCray, J.J. Wilcox and Johnson. Who plays with the first team? Church, last year's starter, and maybe Allen could get reps with the first-team defense. Johnson, who missed his entire rookie season with hamstring injuries, also could get some first-team looks.

Tyrone Crawford said he's getting looks at defensive end and tackle. Kyle Wilber, drafted in 2012 as a outside linebacker, has been moved to end. Does Wilber get first-team reps on Ware's side?

Todd Archer joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the latest Tony Romo news and what he will be watching for in OTAs.

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On offense, first-round draft pick Travis Frederick is projected as the starting center, but expect Phil Costa to have something to say about that. It'll be interesting to see if Frederick gets snaps at guard and center with the first team. Ronald Leary should also gets some snaps with the first team.

Dwayne Harris is the No. 3 receiver, but rookie Terrance Williams wasn't drafted in the third round to sit the bench. Tight end Gavin Escobar, a second-round pick, should get some snaps with the first-team offense, but don't forget about James Hanna.

Media access: The OTAs last three days, but the media is allowed to watch practice and talk with the players and coach Jason Garrett on Tuesday only.

Cowboys up on practice rules

June, 6, 2012
IRVING, Texas – Earlier this week, Seattle forfeited two organized team activities and one offseason workout day for violating offseason contact rules.

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said the team is aware of the new offseason rules in the collective bargaining agreement and makes sure the players are working within that framework.

The new CBA allows for 10 OTAs (cut back from 14) and teams could not start the offseason program until mid-April. The Cowboys will hold their mandatory mini-camp next week in which the players will practice twice a day.

“We really try to talk to our team almost on a daily basis on how to practice,” Garrett said after Wednesday’s OTA. “Sometimes you have to practice better, you have to be more physical, you have to finish plays. All that kind of stuff. And sometimes you say, ‘Guys, stay off the ground,’ and these are examples of this is what you should do and this is what you shouldn’t do. You’re always trying to refine the practice process with your team. I think the important thing is you want to create competitive environments for your team but at the same time understand we’re all on the same team and understand how to practice together.”

There was a bigger-than-normal OTA collision between inside linebacker Sean Lee and running back DeMarco Murray on a pass near the goal line in seven-on-seven session Wednesday in which the running back went to the ground.

“It’s the NFL,” Murray said. “Sean Lee didn’t try to hit me. We were both going pretty fast. We both tried to stop. I tried to make a cut underneath him. He was going so fast. He played it really, really well and we just kind of ran into each other.”

Live chat: Cowboys OTAs

May, 24, 2010
Keep track of the Cowboys' organized team activities today with Tim MacMahon and Calvin Watkins.