Cowboys OTA Notes: Offensive Changes, First Team O Line, Play Today

FRISCO, TX — Changing the offense has begun on the practice fields at Cowboys headquarters. This week marked the beginning of the team’s organized activities, which means the first opportunity for the recently added veterans and rookies to work with quarterback Dak Prescott, new caller Mike McCarthy and new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

“In terms of fitting, there were obviously some additions, some things removed,” Prescott said after Thursday’s practice, the first open meeting with reporters. “I think you just get the general feeling that maybe the game will be called a little bit differently. I can’t give away too much. … But there are some changes. It’s not like we’re going to throw out our playbook and try to start over, anything like that.”

The Cowboys have had career best five goals in each of the past two seasons. They led the NFL in points per game (31.2) and yards per game (407) in 2021. But falling short of the playoffs in the last two seasons has led Dallas to go in another direction this offseason with the head coach dominating offense. .

“If you look at the stats for the (last) three years of attack and the direction we’re going, we’re going to continue in that direction,” McCarthy said Thursday.

One notable change is that there is a new veteran wide receiver working with the first team offense. Brandin Cooks took on the first group reps, which included CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. Much like Amari Cooper of the past, the Cowboys once again have three starting wide receivers all capable of 1,000-yard seasons.

“Obviously I’m still learning, but you know, McCarthy has been a part of a lot of explosive crime everywhere he’s been,” Cox said. “That’s what it feels like. He wants to be explosive and dynamic with all his players. And that’s what I’m still learning about.”

A big part of the offensive transition is identifying what works best for the current squad. Two-time sprint champion Ezekiel Elliott is no longer on the team. Dalton Schultz, the starting quarterback for Dallas for the past three seasons, is now with the Houston Texans. There are also many moving parts along the line up front, which may not be fully settled for several months.

There is a lot of work to be done between now and the season opener on September 10th. An OTA practice doesn’t tell much of a story. Prescott believes the small details will be the difference in which group plays “faster” and “cleaner”. McCarthy’s West Coast offense is likely to limit the number of reads Prescott has on a given play.

“Guys are in place faster and cleaner,” Prescott explained, allowing them, when that’s not playing, to go scrambling and create a play. This only allows when first reading and second reading are not there for everyone to be on the same page for this scramble exercise.

“Just the first couple of days the guys fly off the ball. And I think that’s the biggest difference. The more we get that, the better we are.”

Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has often talked about excluding plays from the game plan during the week if players don’t feel completely comfortable playing them in practice. It looks like McCarthy will do the same about the attack.

“As we broke (practiced today),” Prescott said, “(McCarthy) said, ‘Go look at everything we put in and make sure we’re running the things you like and the things we’re good at. If it’s something you’re a little bit suspicious of, let’s take it out. Let’s get it right.’ We’re great at it. Just having this clear communication, being able to work with it day in and day out, it’s new, it’s refreshing, it’s fun for both of us.”

Here are more notes and notes from Thursday’s first open OTA practice for journalists.

Cowboys veterans do not participate. The group included CB Trayvon Diggs, DI Dante Fowler, S Malik Hooker, DI Marcus Lawrence and RG Zack Martin.

The first team offensive line. With Martin out, the top pick was Tyler Smith at left tackle, Matt Farniuk at left guard, Tyler Biadas at center, Josh Paul at right guard, and Tyrone Smith at right tackle. Watch Terrence Steele from the sidelines. He’s not quite ready to come back from a knee injury at the end of last season. Chuma Edoga also served with the 1st group at left guard. Matt Waltzko did the same at right tackle.

There was a lot of talk about getting a “best five” ballpark for the Dallas O.J. line. This may not matter much given the health issues of the past few seasons. Since McCarthy became head coach in 2020, the “Best Five” haven’t been around as much. In 2020, the “best five” of Tyron Smith, Martin, Steele, Connor Williams and a center combination of Biadasz/Joe Looney have started in only two of their 16 games together. Things picked up in 2021 as the “best five” of Tyron Smith, Martin, Biadasz and Williams, and the Steele/La’el Collins right tackle combo started in 11 of 17 games. Last year, the Top Five didn’t start a single game together because Tyron Smith and Steele weren’t healthy at the same time. The Cowboys have gone 8-5 in those games over the past three years with a “best of five”.

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running back. It was a good sign to see Tony Pollard (man) on the court during the first part of OTA. He appears to be on schedule to be completely healthy to start the season. Malik Davis and Ronald Jones were the next backers behind Pollard.

Have the Cowboys conveniently replaced Elliott at the running back position?

“I don’t think you’re going to just go out and replace Zeke,” McCarthy said. “I’ve never seen it that way. Business economics, it’s real. You make the decisions and sometimes the decisions definitely influence the next decision or two. We were just doing short yardage and the goal line last night and he jumped off the bar. This isn’t really about replacing your uniform.” “It’s really about the opportunities for the guys. Tony’s chance to be up front. We’re just preparing all these guys. Deuce is the new guy. It was great to see him implement the things we were doing here last week. The group will look different because he’s not around anymore.”

Today’s play. Rookie RB Deuce Vaughn caught a 45-yard pass from Will Grier on a 7-on-7 drill. Vaughn did an excellent job of tracking the ball and returning for the catch. The defensive backs weren’t going full speed or trying to intercept passes during a drill. McCarthy is keen not to be fined for the third year in a row for having a lot of contact with the team during OTA practices.

Hall of Fame. Former Cowboys DE DeMarcus Ware was in the building, doing well while coaching Micah Parsons and other linebackers.

attitude change? Kelvin Joseph was an outside cornerback the previous two seasons. Worked as Nickel Thursday.

Practice speed. Prescott was asked about the speed of fieldwork, which is slower and faster. “It’s hard,” he said. “That’s where we’re at right now, right? (Collective Bargaining Agreements) and all that, more quick passes, getting the most out of it, though. I think that’s where it comes in on an individual level, pushing myself And making sure that the work of the drills that I do, I don’t take for granted. I do it with a purpose, I do it with the right intentions. And then just when you’re there at 11-11-11, knowing we can’t be as fast physically but mentally He can, so to make sure if I’m checking it out or not, I’m just getting through everything and getting the most out of practice no matter what the pace.”

(Photo by Duck Prescott: Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

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