Wednesday marked the final organized team activities (OTAs) for the Dallas Cowboys and intensity wasn’t lacking.
Cowboys coaches and players feel the energy level has been up throughout the offseason workouts, and ended the voluntary portion of the offseason on a positive note.
Mandatory minicamp gets underway next week and then training camp in late July. Here are five observations from Wednesday’s OTAs –
1. Fired up. Coaches and players were being more vocal than the first two weeks of camp. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan barked at players to be in position and running backs coach Gary Brown got on linebacker Jaylon Smith to tone it down during team drills.
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The loudest ripping may have been from Dak Prescott on Chaz Green, who took reps with the first-team at right guard with Zack Martin continuing to sit out of OTAs in hopes of landing a long-term deal.
Prescott wasn’t pleased when Green was called for a false start during a drive in which the offense had been moving the ball down the field. It felt as though Green may have given up another sack to Adrian Clayborn.
2. New weapons. The Cowboys don’t plan on having a true No. 1 receiver this season, but they have spoken highly of the new additions they’ve made throughout the offseason.
Tavon Austin, whose role has been described as a “web back,” spent more time with the first-team Wednesday than he had in the previous two OTAs open to the media.
Allen Hurns also made his presence felt. He and Prescott connected on a nice play down the left sideline with Prescott fitting the ball between Bryon Jones and Xavier Woods.
3. D shines in red zone. The Cowboys went through situational work on Wednesday, including two-minute and red zone drills. The defense impressed more than the offense.
The situation had the offense trailing by three, but in field goal range with a third-and-8 from the 18. But center Travis Frederick had a low snap and Prescott couldn’t field the ball cleanly.
It led to a fumble recovery by Justin March-Lillard.
In another red zone drill, Prescott tried to find Blake Jarwin in the end zone, but March-Lillard broke up that pass.
4. TE threats? Jason Witten wasn’t much of a red-zone target in his days with the Cowboys. That is the one area in which Witten didn’t put up impressive numbers.
But the early signs have the Cowboys looking to tight ends more in the end zone. As stated, Prescott tried to find Jarwin in the end zone on an incompletion.
Jarwin was the target of Cooper Rush when the second-team ran those drills, and they connected for a TD over the middle.
On the third-team, fourth-round pick Dalton Schultz hauled in a pass in the end zone from fifth-round pick Mike White.
5. The 'X' factor. Xavier Woods will get plenty of reps to show what he can do at safety. He and Jeff Heath were the two safeties working with the first-team, and Woods is a player who the Cowboys are high on.
“He’s everything we felt he was when we drafted him,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. “He’s got really good football awareness."
Woods played in every game last season, including four starts, finishing with 41 tackles, one tackle for loss, six passes defensed, four QB pressures and one interception.
▪ First-round linebacker Leighton Vander Esch didn’t practice on Wednesday with a sore ankle. Marinelli said the team isn’t concerned about it being a lingering issue.
▪ Also missing was defensive tackle David Irving, who hasn’t participated in OTAs this offseason. It’s unclear whether Irving will attend mandatory minicamp next week, although Marinelli said it would be good for Irving to at least be showing up these days.
"I think so," Marinelli said. "That might be a good idea. That would help."
Other players who didn't practice included Martin; WRs Cedrick Wilson, Terrance Williams and Deonte Thompson; linebacker Sean Lee; DB Jameill Showers; and DL DeMarcus Lawrence, Maliek Collins and Charles Tapper.