FRISCO, Texas -- It’s almost NFL vacation time, when every team holds its breath until training camp, wondering if it will receive any bad news from players getting in trouble during their down time.
There will always be time for wonders, especially Five Wonders when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys.
Away we go:
Most of the time we go with things we wonder about, but there are times we go with things we don’t wonder about. I don’t wonder if Zack Martin will be at next week’s mandatory minicamp. I believe he will be there. If he misses the three days of practice, he is subject to a fine of $84,435. Martin has continued to work out at The Star even though he has not taken part in the organized team activities, and most people expect him to attend the minicamp. Does that mean he will do everything in the camp? Maybe. Maybe not. The Cowboys do not wonder if Martin will be ready to go when things matter most. “With a guy like Zack, honestly, he probably could step in at any point in a game and be just fine, so I’m certain that will work itself out,” center Travis Frederick said.
On Monday, ESPN Insider Bill Barnwell offered up some destinations for the top free agents available. He pegged Dez Bryant to the Green Bay Packers and Alfred Morris to the San Francisco 49ers. Both make sense, given Bryant could work well with Aaron Rodgers and Morris knows what Kyle Shanahan wants out of a runner. Barnwell also had DeMarco Murray joining the Los Angeles Rams. But the interesting part was Adrian Peterson coming to the Cowboys. That has been a rumor over the years, but I wonder if it makes any sense at all, given Ezekiel Elliott on the roster. It would be one thing if Elliott were facing a suspension again, but he’s not. And the Cowboys aren’t going to be able to give Peterson a ton of work. I can’t imagine he would be happy with two to three series a game. The Cowboys like Rod Smith as Elliott’s backup at the moment, but if something happens to Elliott, maybe then the Cowboys make a call to Peterson. If Bryant is reportedly waiting for training camp to find a home, potentially as an injury replacement if a top receiver goes down, then I’d imagine Peterson is in the same boat.
I wonder why I still get amused/confused by these things, but when the Cowboys worked out and subsequently signed running back Darius Jackson a week ago, you would have thought they landed Peterson in his prime. Jackson was a sixth-round pick in 2016, had a productive preseason (40 carries, 141 yards) and remained on the active roster until Darren McFadden was healthy enough to return from an elbow injury and was released. The Cleveland Browns claimed him off waivers, but he suffered a knee injury and did not play last season. His return means the entire Cowboys draft class of 2016 is back in the fold, but I don’t know if Jackson has a chance to win a roster spot. If he does, he had better play well on special teams and beat out this year’s seventh-round pick, Bo Scarbrough.
It’s tremendously early and you never want to make huge judgments about line play when players are not in pads, but I wonder if the Cowboys have found something in defensive tackle Jihad Ward. A second-round pick of the Oakland Raiders in 2016, the Cowboys picked him up in a draft-day trade for wide receiver Ryan Switzer, who was in the Jackson category of players made legends before doing anything. Ward was a disappointment in Oakland, but the Cowboys coached him in the Senior Bowl and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli was/is a big fan. Through the two OTAs we’ve seen, Ward has been active and moves well. Marinelli has a way of getting the most out of defensive linemen, and Ward might be the next one, but there always has to be a bit of caution until the pads come on in training camp.
I wonder how big of a roster fight Chaz Green will be in this summer. A year ago, he was in the mix to be the starting left guard but was unable to play well enough to hold off Jonathan Cooper. He had a brutal game at left tackle against the Atlanta Falcons that left him and maybe the coaches scarred. With Martin not on the field in OTAs, Green has played mostly right guard this offseason, with free-agent pickup Cameron Fleming playing both tackle spots. The Cowboys also added guard/center Marcus Martin and have veteran Joe Looney as a depth player on the interior. I wonder if Green is just insurance at the moment but might be a late-preseason trade candidate as teams look to find homes for players they intend to cut for a conditional pick.