Thursday wasn’t the first day of OTA work, but it was the first day with a portion open to the media. We’ve got a full recap of the day’s session: unusual choices along the offensive line, a Tony Pollard sighting, Micah Parsons getting one-on-one pass-rush lessons from a new Hall of Famer, and two electric playmakers both getting double duty. We’re also keeping track of practice kicks and getting into the dollars-and-cents reason why the day’s work might have seemed less than intense.
Meanwhile, Mike McCarthy explains why a new coaching staff around Dak Prescott isn’t really a huge change, Kelvin Joseph may have a new way to prove he deserves to keep his roster spot, and one Cowboys defender gets an all-too-rare shoutout for his on-the-field contributions. All that, plus a good old-fashioned point-counterpoint debate on Tyron Smith: are fans rushing him out the door, or is there something to the criticism? Here’s your News and Notes from a busy Thursday.
Cowboys' Mike McCarthy dials back OTAs to avoid another penalty :: ESPN
“Our team periods are basically walkthroughs and jogthroughs,” McCarthy said Thursday. He was fined in both 2021 and 2022 for too much contact during organized team activities; a third violation could cost the club a draft pick. “I’m glad you find humor in it,” McCarthy replied to teasing reporters. “My wife and I don’t think it’s really funny. It’s actually a sore spot with me.”
Cowboys RB Tony Pollard participating in OTA walkthroughs, McCarthy says :: Cowboys Wire
Pollard was on the field Thursday, though McCarthy was quick to point out that the pace of the day’s session was just that of a walkthrough. The running back suffered a fractured fibula and high ankle sprain on Jan. 22 but vows he’ll be a full go by training camp.
'Position flex is critical': Cowboys switch things up on OL in Thursday's OTA :: Cowboys Wire
Stating a goal of “working all angles,” McCarthy put out a first-team O-line that consisted of Tyler Smith at left tackle, Matt Farniok at left guard, Tyler Biadasz at center, Josh Ball at right guard, and Tyron Smith at right tackle. Chuma Edoga and Matt Waletzko also got some work, and Farniok took snaps at three different positions. Things will no doubt change even further once Zack Martin dresses and Terence Steele returns from injury. Right now, it’s all experimental tinkering.
Is Tyron Smith still in the Dallas Cowboys top-5 of O-linemen? :: Sport DFW
To suggest the eight-time Pro Bowler isn’t one of the Cowboys’ best five linemen borders on sacrilege. The reality, though, is that Smith hasn’t looked good since midseason 2021. By the time training camp ends, it may be obvious to the staff that “the best five” does not include the future Hall of Famer.
Tyron Smith’s demise in Dallas being discussed at volumes that don’t seem appropriate :: The Athletic
What Smith did last year- jump into a brand new position while rushing back from an injury of his own in order to give the team the best chance to win and not stunt the growth of the rookie playing his usual spot- was remarkable. Then he even accepted a pay cut to stay on with the team. The pro’s pro is still worthy of a starting spot and the best mentor possible for Tyler Smith. There shouldn’t be a rush to push him to the curb.
Cowboys might be handling kicker situation the right way after all :: Cowboys Wire
Cowboys fans may not feel confident about their kicker (or lack thereof), but the stats prove that any kicker not named Justin Tucker is more or less a roll of the dice from season to season. Better to not overpay at the position and keep options open; an unknown with no track record can often be just as effective as a well-traveled veteran.
Vizcaino doesn't do much to win confidence in Thursday's practice :: Bobby Belt (Twitter)
Tristan Vizcaino attempted 9 kicks in front of media, ranging from 35-51 yards.
He missed 3 kicks, pushing all of them right (35, 35, 51). His long was 47. pic.twitter.com/sc6BPbudJX
— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) May 25, 2023
Mike McCarthy on new Cowboys coaches around Dak Prescott: 'It's a continuation' :: Cowboys Wire
Despite Prescott having a new play-caller, offensive coordinator, and quarterbacks coach for 2023, McCarthy insists there won’t need to be a transition. “I just look at it as more of a continuation of what’s already been established,” he said, referring to two straight years of good offensive output.
Parsons gets pass-rush tutoring from Hall of Famer :: Jon Machota (Twitter)
DeMarcus Ware was getting in some work with Micah Parsons today pic.twitter.com/CM8FLOKHW1
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) May 25, 2023
Cowboys’ Kelvin Joseph can use OTAs to earn trust, show he’s not limited to special teams :: Dallas Morning News
Joseph made some special teams plays but did not have a strong showing at cornerback in 2022. At one point, he was benched. The Cowboys are giving their former second-round draft pick every chance to prove his worth, though; he saw time at the nickel position on Thursday.
Turpin unfazed by NFL's new touchback rule :: Patrik Walker (Twitter)
"I don't care because I'm not fair catching nothing. I'm being real with you — nothing." #Cowboys
— Patrik [No C] Walker (@VoiceOfTheStar) May 25, 2023
10 biggest takeaways from early Cowboys OTAs :: The Mothership
Among the other observations from Thursday: Deuce Vaughn and KaVontae Turpin both did plenty of work on both special teams and in the regular offense, Michael Gallup seems back to pre-injury form, Stephon Gilmore looked good against the Cowboys’ top three receivers (including fellow newcomer Brandin Cooks), Simi Fehoko may have something this year, and first-round draft pick Mazi Smith is already drawing double-teams.
Cowboys share practice field with high school graduation setup :: Jon Machota (Twitter)
Cowboys didn’t have full use of the indoor field today. Commencement stage in one end zone pic.twitter.com/fk5U6XQQyF
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) May 25, 2023
Cynthia Frelund takes each player’s win share and then factors in their salary, round drafted, and positional accolades to determine who is the most unsung hero on each team. For Dallas, it’s Odighizuwa. Last year, he outperformed all of the Cowboys’ other defensive tackles combined and finished 11th leaguewide in pass-rush get-off, but 111 interior linemen are paid better than he is.