1-on-1 with Tank
Demarcus "Tank'' Lawrence tells me that with his apology behind him, he's ready to take the next step -- ideally as a true force in a Dallas Cowboys defensive line that needs all the help it can get.
"It was huge,'' Lawrence said of dealing with his four-game drug-violation suspension and addressing it before his teammates. "Now we can get back to football, put the B.S. behind us, and keep moving on and try to go for this championship.''
As the Cowboys closed out their first of three weeks at camp in Oxnard, "championships'' seem a long way away. There are issues to be ironed out across the board, even as this team is an NFC East favorite. Lawrence truly believes the Dallas D will do its part.
“Most definitely,'' he says. "It’s all about just staying focused and coming out and working each and every day. We all know we are good. But we can’t just talk about it. We gotta go out and show up each and every day. That’s what where working on right now … and we’re looking pretty good.''
I suggest to Tank that one way for him to get better is to take on Tyron Smith on a daily basis, and that Tyron -- once the pupil in working against DeMarcus Ware -- is now the teacher.
“I don’t know if that’s fair, I don’t like how you worded that, but I’m going to roll with it,'' he says. "We teach each other. Try to keep each other going. He teaches me a lot, and I’m learning. I appreciate that I can go against the best tackle in the NFL every day.
"But I’m gonna give him that work.''
Despite the drug suspension, Lawrence has a reputation inside the club as a good teammate and a quality guy. There are no accusations of selfishness as there are with other absent Cowboys.
"That’s what it’s all about, just helping your teammates be the best they can be,'' Lawrence says. "We’re all family out here. If Tyron was on another team, it’d be another story. But we’re to help each other each and every day.''
Like many other Cowboys on coach Jason Garrett's "Monitor List,'' Lawrence isn't expected to participate in the full-speed portion of Sunday's Blue-White Scrimmage. But he does tell me is back, post-offseason-surgery, is fine.
"My back’s doing good,'' Lawrence says. "But I’m out here trying to take it slow. Getting my feet back under me. I haven’t played a lick of football since the last game of last season. So I’m trying to play smart. Don’t want to go out here and hurt something. So that’s what I’m doing.’'
Good physical health is part of Dallas' path to 2016 success. And Tank Lawrence feels good emotional health -- part of the result of his apology -- is, too.
Some of the Cowboys' players wives and kids were in attendance on Friday. I caught up with Candice Romo, who told me there isn't much time to socialize with her husband now that they have two little boys running around. And they do run ... though Candice helped corral them so I could take a family photo:
On Thursday, Tony Romo, Jason Witten and the always hyperactive Dez Bryant were given a day of rest. They were back at practice to work Friday afternoon, but “Senior Ditch Days’’ were given to Tyron Smith, Sean Lee and Barry Church. ... Romo threw two interceptions, but both of them bounced off the hands of receivers and into the respective hands of J.J. Wilcox’s and Brandon Carr ... Mo Claiborne continues to have a terrific camp. "He's looking damn good,'' sez Dez. ... UDFA rookie receiver Andy Jones is starting to pop up, and was able to do so on Friday in part to the injury absence of Devin Street (back) ... What Tyrone Crawford told me early this week about his back not being serious holds true. "It's up to the trainers,'' he says, and on Friday he was in pads doing sideline-rehab work. ... CHQ reported yesterday that Dallas worked out O-lineman Lamar Mady ... Ezekiel Elliott confirms our early-week report and tells us he's sitting out as a "precaution'' that will almost certainly extend beyond the Blue-White. COO Stephen Jones is so unconcerned about it that he says it's not an "injury,'' just "some tightness'' in the hamstring. ... Dak Prescott, on moving up the depth chart: "It's naturally going to make you want to perform better, make you go out there and play better. I think looking in those guys' eyes is going to help me and make me step up." The Cowboys aren't done QB shopping (details here), but Prescott's approach -- prep like you're the starter -- is the right one. ... The CowboysHQCast from Oxnard is here.
I spoke to QB coach Wade Wilson, absent from the Friday workout along with Garrett having cited "personal reasons.'' And it turns out to be nothing alarming.
While the team was on the practice field, Wilson told me, "I've got a foot infection. I'm just getting a bunch of antibiotics pumped in. I'll be back (to work Saturday).''
Talking To Cedric
There was also some mystery about the Friday absence of defensive tackle Cedric Thornton. But CHQ spoke to him by phone during practice as well, Thornton telling us, "It's cool'' and that he simply has a virus.
The Final Word
"I'm an emotional guy who loves the game. I'm still going to be emotional at times. That's just life.'' -- Dez Bryant, after a loudly competitive practice on Friday. ... that featured this catch:
Something to yell about, indeed. Here's more from Dez for Cowboys Premium fans as he has some "angry fun'' in Oxnard.