Scott Linehan: Day 1 of minicamp not 'perfect,' but feeling good about Cowboys' progress
The Dallas Cowboys were all present for the opening of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. That includes David Irving, who has been sporadic in his attendance this offseason, and Zack Martin, who sat out organized team activities (OTAs) in hopes of landing a long-term deal.
A few takeaways from Day 1
1. Sloppy offense. It’s only Day 1 of minicamp, but the offense had a sloppy practice with dropped passes and poorly executed plays.
Wide receivers Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup, as well as running back Ezekiel Elliott, were among the players who dropped passes.
But offensive coordinator Scott Linehan didn’t appear to be fazed by the lackluster outing. Instead, Linehan pointed to players working at new positions such as wide receiver Cole Beasley lining up outside and Tavon Austin moving around to various positions.
"It wasn’t a perfect day for sure, but watch the tape and we’ll see,” Linehan said. “There’s a lot of stuff — we’re rotating, Beasley played outside today, a lot of guys that we’re working in new positions. I’m excited to see how those guys responded to that."
So Tuesday created no cause for panic?
"Oh, no, we’re feeling really good about their progress,” Linehan said.
2. DBs shine. The Cowboys’ secondary made a few of the highlight-reel plays.
Anthony Brown had a would-be sack on quarterback Dak Prescott in team drills, coming free on a nickel blitz.
In seven-on-seven drills, safety-turned-cornerback Byron Jones had a nice breakup on a pass from Prescott intended for Hurns.
Later in those drills, Gallup beat Jones but dropped the pass.
3. The General. Linebacker Sean Lee had the dreaded "governor" put on him during OTAs, but he’s getting to do more and more as the offseason progresses.
The Cowboys are taking a deliberate approach with Lee given his injury history, and are focused on having him ready to go by training camp next month.
But Lee went through individual drills Tuesday and could progress from there throughout minicamp.
“I feel great,” Lee said.
4. Leadership talk. Speaking of Lee, he is becoming one of the more vocal voices in the locker room in addressing team issues.
He didn’t hold back his thoughts about defensive tackle David Irving being sporadic in attendance throughout the offseason.
"He needs to be here working with us," Lee said. "He can be a huge part of this team if he wants to be, but he’s got to show that commitment."
On the other end of the spectrum is what Lee had to say about right guard Martin, who is on the verge of a massive contract extension and recently overtook Jason Witten’s locker.
"Zack’s a guy who has led by example and each year has been more and more vocal,” Lee said. “He has an unbelievable amount of credibility because of how he practices and plays. It’s been tough not having him here and obviously we understand with contracts that’s how it works. But having him back today, you could feel that everybody was excited."
5. Valuable time. The Cowboys saw a several rookies miss valuable time with injuries leading into last season such as Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods.
This year’s first-round pick, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, finds himself in a similar situation so far this offseason. Vander Esch injured his ankle during OTAs and didn’t participate in practice Tuesday.
It’s unclear how much he’ll be able to do the rest of minicamp, but it’s never a good thing for rookies to be sidelined.
"These practices are precious," defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. "You only get so many. You get 12 total on the field, so they are precious, but things happen. He’s really a good student at classroom, learning, walkthroughs, those things, but right now you’ve got to practice football.
"He'll get that in camp, but you don’t like to miss anything."