Inside Cowboys: A Day At 'Animal House'

IRVING - Health and playing-time updates on Romo, McClain, Carr, Escobar and more ... Video inside the practice featuring linebacker and receiver drills ... Funny stuff on the newest Cowboy - 'Flounder' Minter ... It's one click/all Cowboys inside this Tuesday report from inside Valley Ranch!

ANIMAL HOUSE: Ex-Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson is on-record as suggesting Valley Ranch is run too much like a "country club.'' Jason Garrett is the first to suggest it's actually being presently run a little bit like "Animal House.''

“You guys remember 'Flounder' from 'Animal House?'’’ head coach Jason Garrett asked the media on Tuesday. “He’s got a little bit of that Flounder look to him.''

"He'' is Zack Minter. And this is ... not a compliment.

Minter, a UDFA with the Bears last year who was briefly with Cincy this summer, has never seen the movie “Animal House.’’ The film he's trying to show up on is gamefilm -- and he did that Saturday against the Ravens. Minter signed with the Cowboys in the final hours of training camp in Oxnard, had one practice with the team before the preseason game, and then exploded onto the scene, his squat body somehow managing to make three big plays - a tackle for loss, a sack and a forced fumble and another sack -- on three consecutive snaps.

“He didn’t have a 'Flounder' look to him when the ball was snapped, though,'' Garrett said. "He really showed up.’’

That's so true that Minter received some first-team snaps on Tuesday after a Saturday experience that included teammates -- who barely knew his name -- encouraging the coaching staff to let him play more.

“Players were coming up to me and literally hitting me, saying, ‘Don’t take No. 79 out,’’’ Garrett said. “They didn’t even know who the hell he was.’’

Minter doesn't know his new teammates, either.

"I'm looking forward to getting to know them,'' said the 6-1, 310-pound product of Montana State. "But mostly I just wanted to go out there and do my assignments, run to the football, get some push on the quarterback. ... And now I just want to see if I can make the team and help the team.''

Minter naturally doesn't have any idea what "Animal House'' is, either. It was released in 1978 and isn't on the regular viewing list of anybody else in this locker room, either.

“No, but I looked ('Flounder') up,’’ said Minter after Garrett referred to him that way. “I thought that was kind of funny. ... (but) the skin tone is a little different.’’
McCLAIN UP, BRUCE DOWN: Rolando McClain took the first-team snaps at the Mike today. Justin Durant was at first-team Will.

Bruce Carter was ... not in the mix.

Carter is a thoughtful person, almost too much so. He was asked if he feels like he's being demoted and he replied, "No, not necessarily."

But he does feel that way. And he should. Because he is.

“I do think that we’ve got a chance to pull one out of our hat with McClain?” Jones said. on 105.3 The Fan. “Are we looking for it? Yes. ... Look for him to be a good player again. Doesn’t mean he’s going to be, but he can be. … I’m pretty pleased with his progress.''

McClain is enigmatic, careful to show very little to those around him, in terms of revelatory emotion. Bruce Carter is not like that. I watched him and spoke to him. His tail is presently 'tween his legs. He is in the process of being demoted and once he quits overthinking this, he would be wise to motivate himself up to engaging in this fight for a job.

LB BLOCK-SHEDDING DRILLS: You see here from this morning's workout Cowboys linebackers (and safeties) working on a drill in which the meet a blocker and work to shed him in order to flow to the ball:

INJURY UPDATE: The Cowboys defense took a step towards taking shape on Tuesday morning as projected opening-day starting cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne were both in pads for the club’s first post-training-camp practice back Valley Ranch on Tuesday.

"'I did the whole thing,'' said Carr, dressed out for the first time all summer after missing the bulk of camp in Oxnard due to the death of his mother. "They (coaches and trainers) let me go.'

There is a slightly more cautious approach with Claiborne, who injured his right shoulder in practice last week and before that missed time with tendinitis in his knee. He didn’t play in the club’s second preseason game Saturday against Baltimore but would ideally like to participate in Saturday's "dress-rehearsal'' preseason test at Miami.

"Our corners,'' said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, speaking to "Shan & RJ'' on 105.3 The Fan, "should be the strength of our team.''
Orlando Scandrick has actually been Dallas' best corner, and he is practicing, too -- though he faces a four-game PED suspension once the season starts.

Also working Tuesday despite injuries were tight end Gavin Escobar (shoulder) and rookie linebacker Anthony Hitchens (stinger). Unable to go: cornerback Sterling Moore (groin) and defensive tackles Henry Melton (groin) and Terrell McClain.

Linebacker DeVonte Holloman was not present as he is in San Antonio meeting with doctors about a neck injury that could be serious.

ROMO PLAN: Tony Romo and the first-team offense worked together with the stated plan from Radio Jerry that the quarterback might play two series in Miami before he exits.

THE QB HUNTER AT THE RANCH: In his first interview since breaking his right foot at camp, rookie defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence expressed optimism about his recovery.

“It feels great,” Lawrence said. “Surgery went well, I’m glad it happened now than later. I'm just going on a day-to-day basis with the treatment and getting that done so we can get back on the field.”

Lawrence will remain on crutches and will remain on the active roster, too, with the team anticipating his return before midseason.

“It set me back a little physically, not being out there with the team,” Lawrence said. “I know I’m going to have to be into my playbook and the weight room now. On the mental side, getting into the playbook and learning all the plays and making sure I’m up to date so when I come back I have no problems.”

WR DRILLS: You'll notice from the Baltimore game that Dez Bryant - once considered a "fumbler'' -- is far more focused on ball security than ever before. This morning the Cowboys used this drill to emphasize the absorbing of contact while carrying the ball:

ONSIDE KICKS: Vaughan is a practice-squad keeper at QB. A roster-keeper? Doubtful, as too many unknown wild-cards (Spencer, Lawrence) will be given spots ... Matt Johnson tells us he's chasing down more medical opinions on his troubling hamstrings ... The Cowboys' plans for Wednesday and Thursday? “We’ll be in pads all week long,” Garrett said. “It’s (still) training camp.” ... KD's best-in-the-biz 53-man roster projection is here ... Ronald Leary is winning the LG job. Mackenzy Bernadeau is nevertheless valued as a guy who can back up all three interior spots ... Still concerned about Jerry and The Manziel Card? Please read this. ... Minter approached George Selvie and asked him how he appeared from nowhere to make the team. "What did you do?'' Minter asked. "Same thing you (just) did,'' Selvie replied.

OUR ALS ICE-BUCKET CHALLENGE: Brian Cuban started it. Big Rob of the Mavs ManiAACs and Bryan Broaddus of the Cowboys help me pass it on ...

THE FINAL WORD: "It's not like a sprained ankle. It's the brain. ... It's a weird feeling (to be back on field) but a good feeling.'' - Amobi Okoye, easing his way back onto football after battling anti-NMDA encephalitis, a potentially fatal brain illness that had him in a medically-induced coma for three months last year.

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