FRISCO, Texas – Well, look it here, rookie minicamp is done, and we’re less than a week away from the start of, uh, voluntary OTAs.
Memorial Day is right around the corner. Looks like a few more OTAs that week, too.
Then a teamwide, mandatory minicamp the following week.
And poof, the offseason takes a break and we’ll be five weeks away from the start of training camp, and from listening to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and head coach Mike McCarthy, the hope is that the month-long camp will be back in good, ol’ Oxnard, Calif.
At least, we hope so, too, if you know what I mean about getting out of 100-degree Texas heat for a spell.
How time flies.
So allow me my best shots from the three-day rookie minicamp this past weekend.
First Impressions: Those 11 Cowboys draft choices, eight defensive and three offensive, well, let me tell you this. They all look the part. Not a one looked out of place. All athletic. All with respectable size, speed and capable of keeping harm an arm’s length away. Most seemingly with a path to make this team, depending on what happens when the pads come on. Now, granted these drills were in helmets, jerseys and shorts, no contact, and against those of their own ilk, including 15 undrafted rookies, and not saying all 11 will make the final 53-man roster. That would be a huge but welcomed upset. But there seems no reason for at least seven making the final roster, health willing, and the rest would seem to be practice-squad capable. That is if they can clear waivers first. Seniority: Last January former Cowboys linebackers coach George Edwards (1998-01) was a late addition to McCarthy’s coaching staff as the three-time NFL defensive coordinator (Washington, Buffalo and lastly Minnesota from 2014-19) was named senior defensive assistant. Edwards hung primarily with the linebackers, his coaching expertise, during practice aiding McCarthy’s former Green Bay assistant Scott McCurley. Well, sure became obvious just watching this rookie minicamp that Edwards, maybe still with the same title, was taking charge of the linebacker position – even if there were only three rookie linebackers in the group. When asked about a role change, McCarthy said, “Not a big change, as much as a shift.” DQ Possibilities: We quickly discovered listening to the players that new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will go by “DQ” in their books. A marketing opportunity awaiting? All the 19th-year NFL coach has to do now is perform a quality fixer-upper on last year’s atrocious Cowboys defense. Also good news, Quinn, with extensive experience coaching defensive lines when he hasn’t been the DC in college and at Seattle or the head coach in Atlanta, is working primarily with the defensive linemen even though he and McCarthy have brought in DQ’s defensive assistant Aden Durde from Atlanta as a defensive line coach. Oh, and speaking of Aden, he introduced himself as “AD.” And how about this for a little known fact. He was born in Middlesex, England, and began his football career playing for the London Olympians and came to the Carolina Panthers in 2005 as part of the NFL Europe’s International Practice Squad Program before progressing to a coaching career. The Natural: If first-round pick Micah Parsons is looking for a nickname, this one would fit. Such a “natural” athlete, and that was readily apparent in the one 11-on-11 drill and the one 7-on-7 non-contact drill on Saturday, along with the special teams and positional drills. He instinctively flows to the ball in the running game. Has no problem dropping back into coverage against the pass. And in one special teams tackling drill, while moonlighting as the ball carrier, my goodness, he put a Walter Payton-quality shake on the air-grabbing defender, going back to his Harrisburg High School days when he ran for 1,200 yards his junior year and 27 touchdowns. Oh, and the one time he lined up as the right defensive end, he started off going to the edge on fourth-round draft choice Josh Ball, and without missing a beat, jumped back left inside unabated to the quarterback. NFL Strong: Us media types will be pulling for sixth-round pick Quinton Bohanna, the 6-4, 327-pound 1-technique defensive tackle from Kentucky, to not only make the 53-man roster but also earn snaps. He’s becoming quite the quote. When asked what he needed to improve on now that he’s in the NFL, QB said, “I want to add more strength. Got to get NFL strength.” But tell you what, wait to you see the agility and foot speed for a guy this size while trying to clog up the middle, pointing out, “Linebackers love me, at least the ones I’ve played with so far.” See what I mean? Name To Remember: Not sure how many of you might have watched the FCS semis and then this past Saturday’s championship game between Sam Houston State and South Dakota State down the road from here at Toyota Stadium. But if you didn’t, remember this name: Jequez Ezzard, WR from the champion Sam Houstons. A graduate transfer from Howard University this season, Ezzard stole the show in the semis and then in the finals, returning a punt 80 yards for a touchdown in the semis against James Madison and also hauling in a 69-yard TD pass. Then in the championship game, he caught 10 passes for 108 yards, two touchdowns (one for 35 yards) and only a horrible block-in-the-back penalty prevented the game’s MVP from notching a long punt return for a touchdown. And he almost hauled in a reach-back, one-handed touchdown grab for the game winner. At 5-9, 192, Ezzard runs a 4.43-second time in the 40 and averaged 27 yards a catch this shortened season for SHS. Now he is eligible to return for another year, but if he comes out, as our Mick Shots teammate Everson Walls advises while the irons are hot, he would have to go through the supplemental draft. Man, I’d use a third on this guy in the blind draft for sure. Mini-Observations: Second-round cornerback Kelvin Joseph has those necessary swivel hips to give himself a chance to succeed in the NFL, and began lining up at left corner … After watching fourth-rounder Jabril Cox for two days, can’t believe this guy lasted until the Cowboys drafted him with the 115th pick. Such a natural athlete and maybe why at Raytown South High School in Kansas City he was a three-year starter and two-time captain as a dual-threat quarterback who also played wide receiver, linebacker, safety and cornerback, along with becoming a four-year starter on the basketball team … Third-rounder Chauncey Golston is one of those I was talking about who looks the part, initially lining up at left defensive end, but appears to have the ability to play both sides, along with his size and quickness to possibly move inside on nickel downs rushing the QB … When the Cowboys used their third, third-round pick on Oregon State cornerback Nahshon Wright, a lot of eyes were arched, seeing the guy is 6-4, but just 183 pounds. Well, wait until you see this guy move; was constantly around the ball in the passing drills, making one diving interception on an out-route. The Cowboys might have known something others didn’t.
And only rightfully so, Parsons gets the last word this week for how he handled himself during the Webex interview session on Friday when he was asked how he might get along with incumbent Cowboys starting linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith, possibly a threat this year to some of their snaps.
Without missing a beat, Parsons said, “I’m just trying to come in and earn my place. At the end of the day, it’s all love, it’s all business. I don’t think there is any love lost.
“There is so much I’ve got to accomplish and prove before I worry about taking anybody’s spot.”
Good answer. Really good.