Mini-Camp Observations

Mini-Camp Observations

IRVING, Tex. - The Dallas Cowboys are spending this weekend hosting 45 players at their training facility in Valley Ranch.

Some are one-year veterans who were with another team or on the practice squad; the others are rookies who were drafted by the Cowboys, brought in as undrafted free agents or invited to take part on a tryout basis.

Some observations from the first two days (Sunday's workouts will not be open to the media):

• Friday's workouts marked the initial introduction of the team's offensive and defensive schemes to the new players; Saturday's morning workout was held under the watchful eye of game officials.

• The 18 players who are at Valley Ranch on a tryout are assured of nothing. Not only are they not guaranteed an invitation to training camp this summer, they also have no way of knowing if they'll even be kept around long enough to take part in the team's OTAs (Organized Team Activities) in the weeks before training camp. One player who seemed intent on maximizing his time on the field was DT Nick Johnson, a 6-1, 303-pound rookie from Baylor. Johnson worked with the rest of the defensive linemen in assorted drills and took part in the team (11 on 11) drills, but spent much of his "down" time between drills working on one-on-one hand-fighting technique with former Dallas star Leon Lett, who is working as an assistant defensive line coach under Rod Marinelli.

• RB Joseph Randle, who was drafted by Dallas in the fifth round, has not been practicing because of recent surgery to repair a thumb he broke last season at Oklahoma State. While the rest of the rookies (and one-year veterans) worked in position drills and team (11 on 11) drills, Randle did conditioning and rehabilitation work on the side with the team's training staff.

• One interesting player in the workouts is free agent WR Jared Green, a 6-1, 192-pounder from Southern University. Haven't heard of him? That's because he's not the most famous football player in his family. Green, who signed with the Cowboys as a free agent in January after spending last season on the Carolina Panthers' practice squad, is the son of one of the greatest cornerbacks in NFL history: former Washington Redskins legend Darrell Green, who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Green said he is asked all the time if he is bigger (yes) than his famous father, and more importantly, if he is as fast. He's not, but he has good speed. It just so happens that his father won the NFL's Fastest Man competition four times and famously ran a 4.4 on his 50th birthday. Jared Green showed that he also has the wheels to get behind defenses with some consistency. He didn't catch every pass thrown his way, but some of those can be blamed on QBs Nick Stephens (Tarleton State), Dalton Williams (Akron) and Aaron Corp (Richmond).

• Speaking of Corp, he signed with the Cowboys, was released Thursday and then brought back Saturday on a tryout basis.

• Walton probably had the best camp of the three QBs. Whether the Cowboys will carry a third passer this season remains to be seen — starter Tony Romo and backup Kyle Orton were the only QBs on the roster for much 2012. All three QBs in camp showed decent arm strength, but Walton's accuracy was more precise.

• Much has been made of the team's switch this offseason from former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's 3-4 defensive alignment to new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's 4-3. One player who likely would not be in camp without the switch is DT DiMetrio Tyson, a rookie defensive tackle from Jacksonville State. At 6-foot-1 and "just" 270 pounds, Tyson would not have received much consideration last year because Ryan prefers his interior linemen to be 300 or more pounds, and his system requires big DEs like Marcus Spears and Kenyon Coleman, each of whom left via free agency. But after playing DE in college, Tyson is sliding inside to DT to try to make the team. He still is a little undersized, but he showed a relentless motor this weekend and generated decent push up the middle in 11-on-11 drills. Tyson is in camp on a tryout basis.

• Jersey No. 23 belonged Friday to Ray Holley, a 5-8, 194-pound running back from Louisiana Tech. Holley was injured while working out Friday and released, and the team replaced him with former Baylor RB Jarred Salubi (5-9, 211), who wore the same No. 23 jersey. Salubi, who also is in camp on a tryout basis, earned the praise of coaches for his ball security. During team drills, coaches implored the defensive players to try to strip the ball on each and every play, but Salubi ran between the tackles, drawing numerous defensive players to him. The players weren't tackling to the ground, but it was fairly physical, and on several plays, Salubi was able to shake off numerous would-be tacklers and emerge from the other side of the herd of players, chugging upfield with both arms wrapped around the ball.

• Top draft pick Travis Frederick, like every young player in camp, is a long way from claiming a spot in the starting lineup, but he seems intent on making it difficult for the coaches to keep him off the field. Yes, it's just a mini-camp and it's true that the league rules prohibiting pads meant no full contact, but Frederick took control of the line, hurrying players to the line of scrimmage, barking out the defensive fronts and calling adjustments to his new teammates. He also had little difficulty turning the interior defensive players out of running and passing lanes.

• Maybe the most impressive player of the weekend has been CB B.W. Webb, the team's fourth-round pick out of William & Mary. Webb is not huge (5-11, 180), but he is fast, an explosive leaper and has long arms that allow him to "play bigger than he is." He didn't seem even a little bit intimidated by being in an NFL camp, and confidently made plays against an array of receivers, including third-round pick Terrance Williams.

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