Dallas Cowboys

5 things we learned from Dallas Cowboys OTAs

Week 2 of organized team activities is underway for the Dallas Cowboys.

Wednesdays are open to reporters who cover the team and, even though it’s early, there is always plenty of offseason storylines coming out of them.

Here are five from Wednesday’s practice:

1. Latest on Irving. David Irving has proven to be a disruptive interior force when he’s healthy and available for the Cowboys. This is a guy who had seven sacks in eight games last season.

But Irving is still working his way into shape and has not taken part in either of the OTAs so far. It’s unclear whether he’ll be able to next week, or what condition he may be in for the mandatory minicamp in June.

“Just wait and see,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. “You’d just love to have him working, no question about it. But the guys that are here, I’m going all-out. Man, I just give everything I’ve got to the guys who are here because they deserve that.”

The Cowboys have been without their top two three-technique tackles in OTAs. Irving is working his way back into shape, and Maliek Collins is sidelined after undergoing foot surgery.

Other defensive players being held out included DeMarcus Lawrence, Sean Lee and Charles Tapper.

Lawrence and Lee got “veterans days” and Tapper is sidelined after being diagnosed with a concussion sustained during Tuesday’s OTA.

2. Eyes on the O-line. Right guard Zack Martin isn’t participating in OTAs as he holds out in hopes of landing a long-term deal. The Cowboys’ coaching staff understands the business side of the game, and has proceeded accordingly.

Chaz Green continues to get first-team reps in place of Martin at right guard.

Left tackle Tyron Smith got a “veterans day” on Wednesday, as well, with free agent signee Cameron Fleming taking reps with the first team at LT.

Wide receiver Terrance Williams, who is recovering from foot surgery, joined Martin and Smith as offensive regulars who didn’t participate.

3. Coaching the youngsters. Marinelli is known to get animated when coaching football. At 68, he hasn’t slowed down.

He was coaching fourth-round pick Dorance Armstrong, a pass rusher out of Kansas, hard on Wednesday.

Asked if a team full of younger players energized him, Marinelli said: “No. I energize myself. I don’t need anybody else.”

Still, for a team with only three players in their 30s on the roster, it begs the question if Marinelli has to alter his approach to focus more on fundamentals.

“No, no, everybody focuses on fundamentals,” Marinelli said. “That’s the game of football done the right way. Once you don’t … the only thing I can say is it’s like golf. You can be really good and all of a sudden you don’t do it for a couple of months, you’re not the same player.

“It’s the same skill we’re teaching. You’ve got to stay on it all the time.”

4. Gathers explanation. Tight end Rico Gathers is one of the most-talked about players even though he has yet to take a regular-season snap.

Gathers is still making a transition from college basketball star to NFL tight end, but had his development stunted last season. Gathers had an impressive training camp and preseason before sustaining a concussion during practice.

Gathers never returned off injured reserve even though he cleared concussion protocol in Week 7. Coach Jason Garrett explained the reasoning on Wednesday.

"There's a lot of discussion about a player coming off injury," Garrett said. "He did have a concussion and was in concussion protocol for a long time. At the point he was able to come back, we were far along down in our season for him to be able to make a significant contribution. Obviously we want a player to continue to develop. We tried to do that with him last year. That's really the reason we made the decision. Because of where he was and where we were."

5. Notable guests. The Cowboys had a couple noticeable visitors at practice Wednesday.

Will Power, who became the first Australian to win the Indianapolis 500, attended as part of a Texas Motor Speedway promotional event.

And former Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith was on hand. Smith, who is now coaching in the college ranks at Illinois, is one of Marinelli’s closest friends in the industry.

Marinelli served as Smith’s defensive line coach and defensive coordinator with the Bears from 2009-12.

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