2017 OTAs/Mini-Camp Roundup: What We Learned

Dak’s First Off-Season as Starter

Around this time last year Dak Prescott was on the roster behind: Tony Romo and Kellen Moore, while competing for the third quarterback position with now safety, Jameill Showers. Safe to say Dak has come a long way. It was very exciting to see that Dak has taken the role as one of the team’s leaders and came to all the mandatory camps, and came ready to play. He looked like he was in great shape, even slimming down a bit.

Zeke’s First Off-Season with Full Freedom

It was also exciting to see that Ezekiel Elliott also came to all of the mandatory camps, and he was looking like a beast, bigger and stronger than ever. This time last year, the excitement surrounding Zeke was to the max, and though it was clear Zeke would have the highest share of carries by a large amount, all indications were pointing to the backfield being one that was shared as the Cowboys had just signed Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden was coming off a huge season, and Lance Dunbar was returning from an injury. Things changed though, Darren McFadden got hurt before the season started, Lance Dunbar battled injuries through the season, and Alfred Morris simply did not look too good. This freed up Zeke and gave him the nearly the full reigns rushing the ball last season. The one thing I believe they missed out severely was using Zeke in the passing game and now that Dunbar is gone and the plays they’ve been running in camp, it seems that they will definitely use him more in that department this upcoming season.

Jaylon Smith

Very exciting news, Jaylon Smith had a ‘full range of motion’ in OTAs and looked great. Then, he actually participated in rookie minicamp, and now the indication look like he will be ready to go for the start of the season against the Giants. As a matter of fact, Jaylon also believes so. “Sunday night,” he said. “Prime time.”

“Last year my season was different from now,” Smith said. “It was planting and growing and now it’s going to be reaping what I sowed. It’s just an amazing opportunity to be back out there with the Cowboys. And honestly it’s just a matter of you guys seeing it.”

Very exciting news for the Cowboys and the young linebacker as he looks to finally unleash his full package along with his partner-in-crime, Sean Lee. Something that is very interesting to note, Smith has been around Lee a lot since he came into the league getting all the knowledge any player could get, simply just not taking place in physical activities. But Lee is an extremely smart football mind, one of the best in the business, and he is also someone who can relate to Smith in ways that he himself also battled many injuries early on and throughout his career. Look for the duo to dominate this year, they will need to help out the young secondary.

Young Secondary

The Cowboys drafted four defensive back in this years draft (Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Xavier Woods, Marquez White), including spending a second and third round pick on two very talented cornerbacks. The Cowboys also lost a few defensive backs in free agency (Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr, Barry Church). However, the team’s best defensive back last year (BY FAR), was first-year player, Anthony Brown. Brown figures to be a starter on the outside this year, everything else from there is questionable. Orlando Scandrick will probably start in the slot, though he has taken snaps outside. Chidobe Awuzie could play the slot as well, he could play out, or possibly even play safety as he is very comparable to the Honey Badger. I believe that could very well be his best position. Then there is Jourdan Lewis who can play inside and outside, and due to how the pieces have lined up, there is a good chance he might have to play outside (at least take a lot of snaps there). The Cowboys also added veteran Nolan Carroll who is by far their biggest corner, so he could also be an outside starter, week 1. Then, there is the safety battle between Jeff Heath and rookie, Xavier Woods. Heath, who has been a special teams monster over the past few years, is the favorite, as he is a player (like Awuzie) who is prone to getting turnovers. That is something that Marinelli and the Cowboys are really clearly preaching for. Dallas’ secondary simply needed to improve from last season, so losing some of those guys and replacing them with young studs doesn’t seem like a bad situation at all to me.

Published by: Nicco Vocaturo

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