Each Sunday I provide 10 quick hits on the Dallas Cowboys. Rolando McClain wasn’t on the plane and maybe that’s not such a bad thing. The defensive line is on high alert, paintball is dangerous, Romo is fine, and it’s time for you to get your premium subscription to CowboysHQ.com in this edition of First and 10.
1. Rolando McClain and Randy Gregory fail to show up for training camp. At least Gregory has an excuse — he’s in rehab. McClain? Who knows? McClain is now, officially, the Cowboy I’m so over writing about this season. And it hasn’t even started yet.
McClain, of course, will miss the first 10 games of the season due to a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. And, hey, guess what? He’s not going anywhere even though he’s not at camp and won’t participate in a regular-season game until Thanksgiving.
Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones told reporters that the cap implications of cutting McClain don’t benefit the Cowboys at this moment. So McClain gets a paid ticket to the suspended list.
Nice work if you can get it. I guess that’s the only good thing. Moving McClain to the suspended list does open up a spot for another player in training camp. Same goes for Gregory. At least the Cowboys can muster some extra depth out of this.
If I were in Jerry’s shoes I would have cut the guy by now. I mean McClain obviously doesn’t want to be there. Why keep him? He’s just going to show up to The Star in November out of shape and unable to help the Cowboys in any form at the season’s most critical juncture. There is zero commitment on McClain’s part to football at this point and that doesn’t help head coach Jason Garrett and his coaching staff in the slightest. But, of course, it’s not up to Garrett.
DeMarcus Lawrence is here, and working despite his own coming four-game suspension. To his credit, he sounded accountable today after the Sunday morning walkthough: "It's on me. I messed up. I learn from my mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes, but it's about what you do going forward."
2. The single most important storyline in this training camp is the defensive line. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. When I look at this Cowboys team I see a team that has what it needs at just about every position. But the defensive line is so fluid and so uncertain that whatever way it swings, in my opinion, influences the entire season.
On this subject, our Mike Fisher wrote a piece about how the Cowboys are trying to find ways to mask the fact that they’ll be without Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence for the first four games of the season and that they’ll be without Benson Mayowa for a period of time in camp due to a knee scope.
The Cowboys have assembled a group that has no premier rusher. The Cowboys have assembled a group that has no consistent sack producer. The Cowboys have assembled a group that is going to have to be much better than the sum of its parts in order to improve the pass rush in 2016.
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and his staff must find a way to spin straw into a whole lot of gold up front or this defense simply won’t have the ammunition to get to the quarterback. And in that case it won’t matter how good the offense is.
Mike Fisher and Mark Lane are embedded with the Cowboys in Oxnard, so it’s not like we’re going to miss anything. We’ll keep you posted. For instance ...
What was Tony Romo's deal on Sunday morning?
Yes, the single most important storyline is the D-line ... unless the Cowboys starting QB is making news. Which he did by being absent from the start of the walkthrough work ... before eventually showing up to watch ... with us ultimately learning that it was a scheduled sitout and part of Dallas "monitoring'' him. Romo will also not practice on Sunday afternoon but will be in pads Monday and Tuesday. Tyrone Crawford is also being "monitored'' so he'll sit out this afternoon. And the Cowboys are being similarly careful with Dez Bryant and Orlando Scandrick.
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4. I spent some time with Wess Moore this week leading up to Cowboys training camp. You can catch my appearance with Moore and Game On at Fox Sports Arkansas radio RIGHT HERE. We talked about the implications of the Cowboys’ issues at defensive line and what avenues they could pursue to bring in additional players during training camp. I think a trade is possible, but the Cowboys will need to wait for the normal attrition of players that one would associate with training camp. In other words, someone for another team has to get hurt before an offer will come for a player like Ron Leary.
5. CowboysCast is getting you ready for training camp. This week CowboysHQ’s Mike Fisher joins host Bobby Belt to discuss all the training camp headlines and figure out where the Cowboys go next to fix their defense. Plus, Bobby talked with former OU receiver David Robinson, who has become one of the nation’s most sought after wide receiver trainers and worked with the Cowboys’ Brice Butler and Rico Gathers this offseason.
6. Here is your Ezekiel Elliott update. The district attorney’s office in Columbus, Ohio, is currently investigating the domestic violence allegations against Elliott, which were filed last via a police report by the accused. There is no timetable for the completion of the investigation, but the office’s intent is to investigate the claims fully and then determine whether charges should be filed. The NFL is also conducting its own separate investigation. Jerry Jones told reporters on Friday that, to this point, there are no contradictions in the information they’ve been given.
Sorting out the information will likely take some time. In the meantime, Elliott will practice and we’ll keep you posted. In fact, we start you with "Cowboys Camp Day 1 - Arm In Arm,'' which includes a detailed look at the day in Oxnard, complete with a funny from Zeke.
7. I’m not going to make a joke about Damien Wilson’s paintball injury. Eyes are important. I’ve been poked in the eye during basketball games and it’s not a fun experience. That’s why I started wearing rec-specs in high school — well, that and I couldn’t see without glasses. And I’m here to tell you the goggles weren’t nearly as cool looking on me as they were on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar back in the day.
My only question about Wilson’s injury is how. I’ve seen paintball games. These guys are covered head to toe in protective gear. They wear helmets and protective goggles. Short of the goggles breaking after being hit by a paintball, I can’t figure out how it happened.
8. It’s our Tweet of the Week:
Man, Lucky Whitehead really likes Popeye’s. And that hat? I think I wore a beanie when I was five. No, wait, I never wore a hat like that. Ever. Or at least I destroyed all the photos.
9. This week’s Great Moments in Headline Porn — “Editorial: Oxnard must choose between Dallas Cowboys and yet more homes” from the Ventura County Star.
Football or homes? C’mon California. Here in Texas we’d just build the homes on top of the football stadium and call it a community.
10. In case you were hoping to catch a glimpse of the Star’s new indoor football stadium the weekend of the Frisco ISD quadrupleheader, think again. Frisco ISD announced that both sessions of the four games are sold out. However one of the games — Frisco Lone Star vs. Frisco Heritage — will be on ESPNU. So at least you can catch a look on TV.
By the way, the Star complex is adding an Omni Hotel. I mean, eventually this thing is going to cede entirely from Frisco and become its own city, right?
One more thing. Dwight Freeney is still available. I’m just saying …
Want to talk more Cowboys? Hit the CowboysHQ.com message boards or hit up Postins @PostinsPostcard or Mike Fisher @FishSports on Twitter.null