Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys happy to see Scandrick back at Valley Ranch

J.J. Wilcox won the Cowboys’ Home Run Derby on Tuesday at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
J.J. Wilcox won the Cowboys’ Home Run Derby on Tuesday at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Star-Telegram

The Dallas Cowboys welcomed cornerback Orlando Scandrick to off-season workouts Monday with open arms.

“It’s great,” safety J.J. Wilcox said. “What a lot of people don’t know about Orlando is that he’s smart. He’s a smart and a great player inside that locker room, and he’s a veteran. Our defense is real young, so having a veteran presence makes a big difference.”

Scandrick stayed away from the start of the voluntary workouts, which began April 20, but returned after a face-to-face meeting with the Cowboys last week. They had encouraged his presence while working on an agreement to bump his pay from the $1.5 million he is scheduled to make.

“Orlando loves to play football,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “He loves playing for the Cowboys. His great strength as a football player is his passion for the game and the edge that he plays with. So, good to see him back out there doing the work this week leading up to the OTAs [organized team activities] next week.”

Scandrick arrived Monday in good shape, according to Garrett.

“He looks good,” Garrett said. “You can tell he’s been working out. We’re going to take care of the football part. The business side will take care of itself.”

PAT rule

The Cowboys have the NFL’s all-time most accurate kicker, so they weren’t sweating Tuesday’s rule change that moves extra points to the 15-yard line. Dallas was among the 30 teams to vote for the PAT change.

Defenses also now can return a fumble or an intercepted 2-point try, as well as a blocked PAT, for 2 points.

“Obviously, it makes the extra point that much more challenging,” Garrett said. “I think the percentage to make a PAT, the way it is, is north of 98 percent, and I think it’s about 93 percent to kick a field goal that’s 33 yards. So there’s a little bit of a difference there, obviously. I’m glad they did the thing where the defense can return it and get two points. I think that’s a good rule, and I’m glad they kept it at the 2-yard line [on 2-point tries].”

In four seasons with the Cowboys, Dan Bailey has made 114 of 127 field-goal attempts, with his 89.8 percentage ranking first all time. He has never missed an extra point in 179 tries, but Bailey is 38 of 40 on field goals between 30-40 yards, including 6 of 7 in 2014.

Best OL in history?

La’el Collins said he signed with the Cowboys for a chance to be a part of the “best offensive line in NFL history.” But the three first-round draft picks on the line weren’t biting Tuesday.

“You know that’s not something that I personally am going to say,” center Travis Frederick said. “I know we have a long way to go to reach anything like that. For us to come in and try and do what we want to do — and what that is, is do as well as we did last year and continue to improve — we have a long way to go. So we’re just grinding, continuing to work on technique and strength and speed and hopefully we can have another good year.”

The Cowboys rated among the top offensive lines in football last season, if not the best. They rebuilt their line beginning with the selection of left tackle Tyron Smith with the ninth overall pick in 2011. They added Frederick with the 31st choice in 2013 and Zack Martin with the 16th choice in 2014.

Earlier this month, the Cowboys drafted tackle Chaz Green in the third round and added guard Laurence Gibson in the seventh round. They got Collins, projected as a first-round pick, as an undrafted free agent when his stock fell before the draft with off-field concerns that proved unfounded.

“Our group sets a very high standard for how we work, and they’ve come in and done that,” Martin said.

Smith met Collins on Collins’ recruiting visit to USC. Collins ended up signing with LSU, but Smith’s second try at recruiting Collins proved more successful.

Smith, Frederick and Martin were among the five players at Jerry Jones’ Highland Park home for dinner the night before Collins decided to sign with the Cowboys.

“It was his decision,” Smith said. “Nothing we had to do.”

Collins has fit right in, giving the Cowboys hope that they can live up to Collins’ lofty expectations.

“We certainly have a lot of talent in that room,” Frederick said. “A lot can be said about the guys who are there, but there are also a lot of times when talent goes wasted if it’s not put to good use. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. We have a long way to go, and we’re going to continue to work and continue to try and get better.” 

Wilcox reigns

Wilcox, a former high school baseball player, won the Cowboys’ fourth annual Home Run Derby sponsored by Reliant, an NRG company. The 10 Cowboys who participated in the contest Tuesday at Globe Life Park raised $35,600 for The Salvation Army, and Reliant bumped the donation to $50,000. Wilcox finished with $9,700 worth of hits.

Charean Williams, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @NFLCharean

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram