Dallas Cowboys

5 pressing questions for Cowboys minicamp: Dak contract; will Zeke speak; Witten reps

The Dallas Cowboys begin a three-day minicamp on Tuesday in what will be their last organized activity before a five-week break preceding the start of training camp on July 27.

The minicamp is simply an extension of the OTAs the Cowboys have conducted the past three weeks. There will be no pads and no contact but it should be fairly competitive, especially as position battles and roster shuffling continue to heat up on what is the deepest Cowboys team in years.

Players who were held of OTAs because of off-season surgeries or injuries will continue to be held out or limited until training camp. They include DE DeMarcus Lawrence, DE Tyrone Crawford, DT Antwaun Woods, C Travis Frederick, LB Leighton Vander Esch, OT La’el Collins, WR Tavon Austin and WR Allen Hurns.

Here are 5 questions heading into minicamp:

1. Will QB Dak Prescott continue his smooth play. Oh, and what about that extension?

Dak Prescott was one of the standouts during OTAs, throwing the ball as well as he ever has, being more confident, comfortable and in charge like never before. The new offense under Kellen Moore suits him well, but will the lingering contracts talks start to become a nuisance? The Eagles signing Carson Wentz to a four-year, $128 million contract extension last Thursday has only increased pressure for the Cowboys to get a deal done with Prescott sooner rather than later.

2. Will the receivers continue to flash speed in minicamp?

No group was more impressive during OTAs than the receivers, starting with Amari Cooper, who has grown more comfortable with a full off-season with Prescott. Michael Gallup appears ready to take a jump in his second year and Randall Cobb looks to be the most impactful addition to the team this off-season. Can rookie undrafted free agent Jon’vea Johnson and holdover Reggie Davis continue to draw attention with their blazing speed and make a push for roster spots?

3. Will Ezekiel Elliott finally talk to the media?

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has not talked to the media since being detained and cuffed during a concert in Las Vegas right before the start of OTAs. He has been absent in the locker room during the media availability the past three weeks. Will that change during minicamp? Elliott was not charged in the Las Vegas incident, and nothing is expected to come of it. Still, there are questions to be asked and answered regarding that as well his opinions on the Cowboys offense under new coordinator Kellen Moore.

4. Will Jason Witten share the load at tight end?

When the Cowboys signed tight end Jason Witten out of retirement in February, there was supposedly a quid pro quo understanding that he would not play every snap as he did before his retirement in 2017. Per sources, the number was put at 25 snaps or so. But from media portion of OTAs Witten was taking every snap with the first team. No matter how good Witten looks, that doesn’t seem smart for someone at 37 — not for the long haul. Will Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz get in the mix at minicamp?

5. Will George Iloka unseat Jeff Heath at strong safety?

The battle for the starting spot at strong safety will be a huge focus in training camp. Why not start now? Heath has run with the first team throughout OTAs, Iloka is continuing to learn the defense. Iloka is a thumper who will be at his best when the pads come on in training camp. If he can’t unseat Heath, the Cowboys might look to upgrade the position via a trade or the waiver wire.

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.