The Dallas Cowboys are concluding OTA’s and preparing for mini-camp that begins June 17th. For rookies, OTA’s is similar to “On the job training”. I recently trained some new employees and the experience gave me a new perspective to the Cowboys’ OTA’s. Here was this new kid trying to make a good impression on management. He ran 100 mph while everyone else was in cruise control. The things he felt comfortable doing were a cakewalk, but you could see him hesitate on new things – Just like a rookie.
Tyron Smith‘s NFL education with the Cowboys started against the Cowboys 3 – 4 defense. In practice, he faced edge rushers DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Marcus Spears and Kenyon Coleman. As an offensive lineman, Smith couldn’t dictate the tempo. It was Ware’s 7th year, Spencer’s 5th, Spears 7th and Coleman’s 10th year in the league, they had proven themselves. These veterans nursed injuries and paced themselves during practices while they coached Smith up.
Now, Smith is the veteran and he’s being challenged by a young defensive end. A defensive end that knows he’s being watched by media, coaches and Cowboy Nation. He’s playing in a spot that was previously occupied by DeMarcus Ware. He wants to make his own mark on the league. He knows the Cowboys were criticized for trading up to get him and he wants to prove he’s worth it. Yes, you’re smart Cowboys fans – I’m talking about DeMarcus Lawrence.
Lawrence is battling against Tyron Smith during these OTA’s. These battles are happening a lot! Due to guys like Jeremy Mincey, Spencer and Henry Melton still recovering from injuries, Lawrence is getting snaps with the first and second team defense. There are moments where Smith gets the better of Lawrence as you would expect, but that adds to Lawrence’s education.
Battling Smith is making Lawrence better and Lawrence, in turn, will make Smith even better. Smith gets to practice against a healthy opponent armed with youth, speed and power. It’s a welcomed learning curve because Lawrence’s first exam will be against 8 year veteran, Joe Staley. Staley is the San Francisco 49’ers 3 time All Pro and Pro Bowl left tackle. It’s a stout test for Lawrence that we all should be watching closely on opening day.
A final word about OTA’s – With Matt Johnson “tweaking” his hamstring, more reps have been given to Jakar Hamilton. He has made an impression with the second team, behind B.W. Webb. There is another player that I’ve heard nothing but good things about – Safety Ryan Smith from Auburn. I wouldn’t be surprised if Smith is able to take a safety roster spot from either Matt Johnson or Jeff Heath. The Cowboys may lose patience with Johnson’s injury status and Smith may out perform Heath with better coverage skills.
So keep an eye out for Ryan Smith and Tyler Patmon from Oklahoma State as they try to earn a spot on the final 53.
Social Media Alert: Cole Beasley announced on Twitter that he will be making an appearance in Lubbock, Texas this weekend. I found the rest of the details here on facebook. Also, Cowboys legend – Bill Bates #40, will make an appearance in The Woodlands, Texas on June 14th. That event is sponsored by the Houston DC Nation facebook group with proceeds going to Star of Hope Mission for Houston’s Homeless. Event details can be found here on facebook.