Observations From Friday's Mini-camp

IRVING, Tex. - More insider news and notes you won't find anywhere else as the Dallas Cowboys hit the practice fields again on Friday!

• A day after telling the assembled media that he wanted to be traded or have his contract re-structured in response to what he perceived as a lack of commitment toward him by team owner Jerry Jones, DE-turned-OLB Greg Ellis was front and center on the practice field, rehabilitating the ankle that has bothered him since he blew out his Achilles tendon last season. Ellis was in Valley Ranch Thursday — at the team's Optional Team Activity, and expressed concern that no effort had been made to re-do his deal, even though some other veterans had had their contracts re-structured and extended in recent years. Ellis then appeared upset to learn that Jones had just told the media he had no intention of meeting with Ellis, a fan favorite throughout his nine seasons in Dallas. But rather than boycott the Friday session of mini-camp (which of course is not optional), Ellis was out on the field with trainer Britt Brown, working on forward and backward acceleration and lateral movement, often dragging Brown via a long elastic cord. While he's not likely to make anyone mistake him for Aaron Glenn or Terry Glenn or any of the team's other speedsters, Ellis was moving pretty well, and without any visible limp.

Others who worked with the team's medical staff on rehabilitation exercises included OLB Akin Ayodele and TE Anthony Fasano.

• With Ellis working on the side with Brown, top draft pick Anthony Spencer worked with the first-team linebacker unit, where he joined Bradie James, Kevin Burnett and DeMarcus Ware. The second unit featured OLB Alex Obomese, ILB Bobby Carpenter, ILB Dedrick Harrington and OLB Junior Glymph.

• Roll call: Thursday no-shows NG Jason Ferguson, P Mat McBriar, RB Marion Barber and WR all were in attendance. When asked about why he did not attend the previous day's OTA, Ferguson smiled sheepishly, laughed, looked at the floor … and lied. "I've been at every one," he said.

• The offensive line had a distinctly youthful look to it at practice. LT Flozell Adams was excused again as he gets treatment on his knee, and Marco Rivera also was visibly absent after being released Thursday afternoon. Rivera was the spokesman of the group last season, with all of the younger blockers deferring to the group's elder statesman. With Rivera's departure, who will become the mouthpiece for the group remains unclear. RT Marc Colombo declined to answer any questions about anything, and new starting RG Leonard Davis — after conducting a mass interview — said he didn't think he deserved the title, deferring to Adams … and unaware that Adams doesn't talk to the media, either. So maybe it will be Davis. TE Jason Witten said C Andre Gurode gets the job, even though he doesn't know it yet. Stay tuned …

• A day after Rivera was cut, Davis assumed the starting RG position. At times, he appeared to swallow defensive linemen like Marcus Spears and Jason Hatcher alive. The first-team offensive line was made up of the same quintet who held the first-team spots at Thursday's OTA: LT Pat McQuistan, LG Kyle Kosier, C Andre Gurode, RG Davis and RT Marc Colombo. The second unit featured LT Doug Free, LG Trey Darilek, C Cory Proctor, RG Joe Berger and RT James Marten.

• If a dark horse candidate can be identified in a single day's practice, one newcomer who has gotten zero attention but clearly opened some eyes is free agent TE Rodney Hannah, a 6-foot-6, 256-pound rookie out of the University of Houston. Hannah runs very well for a big man, and showed very soft hands, hauling in every pass thrown his way, including a couple that were thrown off-target but he was able to reach out and grab.

• Owner Jerry Jones said Thursday that the team plans to come up with more ways to get the ball in the hands of Terrell Owens. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett echoed those intentions: "Terrell is a great player, and we are going to focus on getting the ball in our best players' hands," Garrett said Friday. Apparently they were telling the truth, as Owens not only had balls thrown to him all over the field, but also ran an assortment of reverses and end-arounds to take advantage of his skill running with the ball.

• Much ado about 'dos: Several players are sporting interesting looks inside their helmets this year. DE Marcus Spears and OLB Anthony Spencer have near-Mohawks. RB Marion Barber and WR Isaiah Stanback have the longest hair on the team, although K Martin Gramatica is close. The only difference is that Barber and Stanback have dreadlocks trailing out from under their helmets, while Gramatica's wild mane makes him look like an Alice Cooper starter kid in soccer shoes. Perhaps the best look this year is that of LT Pat McQuistan. As a rookie, he showed up with an explosion of red hair (that later was "trimmed" — very badly — by some of his older teammates). This year, McQuistan's more mainstream lid have helped him shed the image of being the illegitimate lovechild of Butterbean and Carrot Top.

• CB Jacques Reeves enjoyed a measure of redemption Friday. After struggling in Thursday's OTA, Reeves had the interception of the day when he raced down the left sideline with free agent rookie WR Jamel Richardson, judged the ball in flight, stepped inside of Richardson and held him off to make a diving interception of a Tony Romo pass. That he maintained his concentration and made the catch was even more impressive considering Reeves gives up three inches and 28 pounds to Richardson.

• There has been some speculation that rookie K Nick Folk's best chance to make the team would be if the team decides to keep two kickers, allowing him to serve as the kickoff specialist while veteran Gramatica to handle placekicks. The implication is that Folk has the stronger leg, but Gramatica is more accurate. The accuracy issue is true — Folk was erratic kicking field goals Friday, but the difference in leg strength might not be as pronounced as many believed. Gramatica warmed up Friday by kicking 45-yard field goals — admittedly, with a considerable wind at his back — and seemed to barely put anything into the kicks. He even hit a couple from 60 yards, one of which cleared the bar so easily it might have carried through from 70.

• Head coach Wade Phillips said Friday that veteran QB Brad Johnson will be his No. 1 holder on placekicks, but perhaps P Mat McBriar should get another crack at his old gig. On one play, McBriar took a snap on a punt, faked the placement, popped up and threw a perfect strike — tight spiral and all — that hit TE Adam Bergen right between the numbers.

• Either TE Jason Witten needs to be worked into the offense as a deep threat more often, or Phillips needs to honor his claim that part of the reason the team signed FS Ken Hamlin was to allow SS Roy Williams to play more often near the line of scrimmage. In the morning session, Williams lined up opposite Witten four times, and four times Witten made the catch. On one, he used a fairly pedestrian fake to gain considerable separation from Williams before catching the pass and beating LB Kevin Burnett to the end zone. Moments later, Romo threw a deep ball over the middle — a pass that hung up and fluttered for ages in a stiff wind. Witten runs fairly well, but he's not a track star, and he beat Williams to the ball by several yards before strolling into the end zone.

• Interception of the day: OLB Junior Glymph reached out a paw and tipped a Johnson pass straight up in the air, before OLB Alex Obomese reached out and snatched it … one-handed.

• Among the players who looks like he has spent the most offseason hours in the weight room: RB/KR Tyson Thompson, whose frame looks much thicker this year. The team is listing him at 220 pounds. Last year at this time, he sometimes bounced off teammates like a pinball; this year, he sometimes delivers the blow, and certainly absorbs them better.

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