Wed, 29 Nov 2023

Updates: Player to Watch in OTA Practices This Week

Dallas Cowboys
25 May 2023, 20:24 GMT+10

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May 24 UpdatesTyron Smith

#77 T

Height: 6-5Weight: 320 lbsCollege: USC

2:15 p.m. - The Cowboys are in the middle of their first OTA practices this week, but Thursday marks the first time the media will get the chance to watch the entire team on the field together at once. With these sessions still on a voluntary-basis, not all of the 90 players on the roster are expected to be present.

One of the players to keep an eye on is veteran lineman Tyron Smith, who once again enters the season as the longest-tenured player on the roster. A first-round pick in 2011, Smith is entering his 13th NFL season, the most of any player on the team, although at the age of 32, there are four other players older in age.

But the biggest question mark with Smith might not be his health as it is his position. Smith has been the long-time left tackle for the Cowboys but moved to the right side at the end of last season when Terence Steele went down. Steele is still recovering from ACL surgery and won't be practicing this week.

Smith could still get some reps at both the right side and left, but the Cowboys will have some tough decisions to make if/when Steele come back and what to do with both Tyron Smith and Tyler Smith, who played mostly left tackle last year as a rookie.

------------------------------------ May 22 Updates

4:31 p.m. - During Monday's NFL owners meetings, Thursday Night Football flex scheduling was approved by a vote of 24-8, with the Cowboys being one of the 24 in favor. The flex scheduling would only include games in week 13 through week 17 with a maximum of two league flexes per season and a 28-day notice to the league before making a flex move.

Dallas will host the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday Night Football in week 13 of the 2023 season, meaning that if that game were to be moved off of the slot, it would have to be enacted by Nov. 2. However, there is a next-to-zero chance that the lone Thursday Night Football game that Dallas has scheduled in 2023 would be moved given recent primetime ratings involving the Cowboys, regardless of how each team fares during the season.

While still extremely unlikely, a more realistic outcome would be Dallas having one of its matchups from week 14 to week 17 moved to the Thursday Night Football slot if the league decides to move off of one of those games. Dallas' opponents during that stretch include the Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions.

------------------------------------ May 19 UpdatesStephen Jones

Chief Operating Officer / Executive Vice President / Director of Player Personnel

11:21 a.m. - With 17 different options, there are several things that can stand out the most when first looking at the 2023 schedule, which the NFL announced last week.

For Stephen Jones, he didn't hold back when asked what stood out the most, picking a game that was 15th on the list.

"Buffalo in December," Jones said, referring to the Cowboys' Dec. 17 game at the Bills. "Obviously, that's a great home-field advantage for the Bills, especially in the winter. They're a great football team and that's obviously more than likely going to be pretty cold."

The Cowboys haven't faced the Bills since 2015, when they also played on Dec. 27 in a freezing drizzle that resulted in a 16-6 loss. The Cowboys started quarterback Kellen Moore that day as the Cowboys limped to the finish line of the 2015 season, ending with a 4-12 record.

Historically, the Cowboys have played in Buffalo just five times, posting a 2-3 record.

------------------------------------ May 17 UpdatesDeuce Vaughn

#42 RB

Height: 5-6Weight: 176 lbsCollege: Kansas State

11:30 a.m. - One look at Deuce Vaughn's film of his electric moves in a Kansas State uniform and you'd be hard-pressed to not wonder how he'd fit in as a possible returner for the Cowboys, given his proven ability to do so.

But with KaVontae Turpin coming off of a Pro Bowl season as a rookie, don't go drawing a line through the former USFL MVP's name as kick or punt returner in 2023, because special teams coordinator John "Bones" Fassel isn't.

He does have a plan for Vaughn on the special teams unit, but it may not involve much in-game work as a returner - at least not yet - the onus being on Vaughn to show what he can do.

"I don't really project him as far as a role," said Fassel. "The vision for him is [to] get some punt return work in, some kick return work in [in minicamp]. I think it's to play punt protection, whether it's PP or a wing. Then, you know, like everybody, see what they can do on kickoff."

Related Content: Sproles to Vaughn: You're Here for a Reason

------------------------------------ May 13 UpdatesMicah Parsons

#11 LB

Height: 6-3Weight: 245 lbsCollege: Penn State

1:19 p.m. - If there was any doubt on Micah Parsons' position for 2023, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn cleared it up.

When asked if Parsons could be moving from linebacker to defensive end as he has suggested this offseason, Quinn said his star player will continue to be a dual-threat with little changes to what we've seen the past two years.

"Yeah, 100%. So, he is a pass rushing linebacker," Quinn told reporters during a press conference at rookie mini-camp. " Okay, so, if you ever need position changes, come to me, okay, not to any of the guys, and we can adjust for that. I think what he was probably trying to say is, 'I'm really emphasizing some pass rush into my offseason.'"

Parsons has garnered 26.5 sacks the last two seasons, including a career-high 13.5 last season, helping him earn Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors for the second straight year.

------------------------------------ Mike McCarthy

Head Coach

College: Baker UniversityHometown: Pittsburgh, PA

11:15 am - The Cowboys had several coaches on the field for Saturday's rookie minicamp practice, but head coach Mike McCarthy was not among them.

Cowboys officials announced before practice that McCarthy underwent a back procedure earlier in the week.

He has been part of some meetings at The Star but won't be involved in on-field activities. His availability for the OTA practices in two weeks is unclear.

------------------------------------ May 11 UpdatesMazi Smith

#58 DT

Height: 6-3Weight: 337 lbsCollege: Michigan

4:32 p.m. - What used to be a dicey situation sometimes with players holding out before training camp, has now turned into nothing more than a formality. And it seems to be easier and easier for teams to sign their draft picks, something that happened with the Cowboys on Thursday.

Before any of them even stepped onto the field for this weekend's rookie minicamp, all eight draft picks have officially signed their contracts, including first-round pick Mazi Smith.

Last year's 26th overall pick - Jermaine Johnson - signed a four-year, $13.08 million contract, excluding the fifth-year option. Since most of the draft picks are slotted from the previous season, that will be the ballpark for Smith's deal.

Even third-round pick DeMarvion Overshown signed his deal, which in recent years has been difficult for NFL teams because of offset language with the CBA. But even that was not an issue this year, as all eight picks are signed and ready for the offseason workouts.

------------------------------------ May 10 UpdatesDonovan Wilson

#6 S

Height: 6-0Weight: 204 lbsCollege: Texas A&M

Multiple re-signings made headlines for the Cowboys this offseason as key contributors from last season's squad are locked in for the foreseeable future, and that includes fifth-year safety Donovan Wilson who signed a three-year, $21 million contract in March.

While the defense has added a few key pieces this offseason, retaining a player like Wilson is huge towards keeping the same dominance that the defense had a year ago, according to Leighton Vander Esch who also re-signed long-term this offseason.

"Huge," Vander Esch said on how big the re-signing was for the defense. "Dono is a playmaker, point-blank period. He's gonna find a way to make a play on the ball, whether that's smoking somebody and knocking the ball out, getting a sack or getting an interception, whatever it may be."

"He's always gonna be a ball magnet and having a guy like that on your team is extremely valuable. His energy, his character and what he brings every single day, I love being on the practice field with him and especially when it comes to gameday."

Wilson accounted for a career-high 99 tackles and five sacks in 2022 along with forcing two fumbles and recording one interception. His box presence along with his ability to play further into the defensive backfield has made him a dangerous weapon both in pass coverage and attacking the backfield.

------------------------------------ May 4 UpdatesDaRon Bland

#26 CB

Height: 6-0Weight: 197 lbsCollege: Fresno State

1:30 p.m. - There was a ton of fun shared at the 10th annual Reliant Home Run Derby in Frisco on Wednesday, and All-Pro cornerback was again a part of the festivities. In between his rounds in the batter's box, Diggs was asked about the Cowboys secondary, and his smile told the story.

That is especially true when speaking not only of the team's newest blockbuster addition, former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore, but also of former fifth-round pick DaRon Bland.

"I"m excited to see where he goes in Year 2," said Diggs. "It's a lot in store for him. Great kid. Talented. I'm very excited and I can't wait to see the show."

Bland rapidly ascended from the ranks of a late-round pick to the Cowboys leader in interceptions last season (5). And with the addition of Gilmore making it impossible for quarterbacks to avoid throwing his way a time or two, a level up in Year 2 feels inevitable.

------------------------------------ April. 24 UpdatesJosh Ball

#75 T

Height: 6-8Weight: 304 lbsCollege: Marshall

12:51 p.m. - While the Cowboys held their annual pre-draft press conference, head coach Mike McCarthy revealed that third-year pro Josh Ball is expected to move inside at guard.

"Yeah, he'll play both guard and tackle this year," McCarthy said on Ball, a fourth-round pick in 2021.

The Cowboys have some depth at tackle in Tyler Smith, Tyron Smith and Terence Steele, along with Matt Waletzo, whom McCarthy said is "hitting it out of the park" with his offseason work so far.

Ball, who played 13 games last season as a reserve player, is likely another player expected to add some versatility and position flex. In college, Ball played mostly tackle - both left and right.

------------------------------------ April. 20 UpdatesTerence Steele

#78 T

Height: 6-6Weight: 310 lbsCollege: Texas Tech

4:21 p.m. - The Cowboys weren't expecting offensive tackle Terence Steele to sign with any other team, but the option now is off the table for this year.

Steele has officially signed his 1-year restricted free agent tender of $4.3 million. The Cowboys issued the second-round RFA tender, meaning that had any team signed Steele to a long-term offer sheet and the Cowboys not decided to match the deal, they would've received a 2023 second-round pick in compensation.

Steele is rehabbing from a torn ACL injury he suffered in early December, ending what was shaping up to be a stellar season at right tackle.

When he returns, Steele will join a mix of tackles that includes both Tyron Smith and Tyler Smith, along with youngsters Matt Waletzko and Josh Ball.

This offseason, the Cowboys will be looking at their options for a few long-terms deals for players such as CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs and even Dak Prescott. But Steele should be included in that list as well as a potential long-term signee, even before the start of the season.


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