Friday Morning Mini-camp Insider

IRVING, Tex. - The Dallas Cowboys held their first practice of mini-camp Friday and was there to watch all the action!

World Cup fever: Members of the media at Valley Ranch — and at least one player (receiver Kevin Ogletree) — seem to have an eye on South Africa, where 32 nations are competing for the World Cup. Assorted media members sported shirts and/or hats indicating their allegiance to teams from the United States, France, England, Italy, Brazil and Germany. When approached by the media at his locker after practice, Ogletree didn't even allow one question before asking one of his own: "Who won the South Africa-Mexico game?" (For the record, the game ended in a 1-1 tie.)

Keeping in line: The Cowboys' offensive lines remained the same as they were in the last OTA. The first unit consisted of left tackle Doug Free, left guard Kyle Kosier, center Andre Gurode, right guard Leonard Davis and right tackle Marc Colombo; the second unit had left tackle Alex Barron, left guard Montrae Holland, center Travis Bright, right guard Pat McQuistan and right tackle Robert Brewster; the third unit featured left tackle Will Baker, left guard Mike Tepper, center Phil Costa, right guard Chet Teofilo and right tackle Sam Young.

One note to watch: head coach Wade Phillips said a couple of weeks ago that Kosier would get some work as the Cowboys' second-team center, which would allow the team to activate another veteran lineman, Montrae Holland, and give the line more versatility. Thus far, Kosier hasn't gotten any reps at center.

Fine-tuning: As promised, rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant was returned to the field Friday after missing four OTA workouts this week with a strained hamstring. Bryant did not run drills with his teammate, working instead with members of the team's trainers and members of the strength and conditioning staff.

Y'all come back: When the team broke into seven-on-seven drills, quarterback Tony Romo's first pass was a deep out route to Roy Williams, who stood still and watched as cornerback Marquis Floyd stepped in front him for an easy interception.

Floyd didn't always have such easy plays, however. Later in the session, he seemed lined up for another easy pick on an underthrown deep ball, only to have Miles Austin race back, out-jump Floyd and snatch the ball away from him.

Fashion statement? Two players who just returned from injuries — nose tackle Jay Ratliff and linebacker Keith Brooking — stood out from their teammates in part because of the gear they wore. The defensive players were clad in blue jerseys and blue shorts, but Ratliff and Brooking were in white shorts. The different shorts clearly were not indicative of a no-contact policy for the two veterans, each of whom was in the middle of the chaos around the line of scrimmage all morning.

Low and outside … strike: Stephen McGee threw a pass that drew little attention from observers, but brought raves from offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. Receiver Manuel Johnson ran a short route, running a few steps forward before turning back toward McGee. Seeing Johnson had rookie cornerback Jamar Wall draped all over him, McGee threw the ball outside and below Johnson's knee, where either he would make a lunging catch or the ball would fall incomplete. Sure enough, Johnson made the grab.

Catch of the day: Since his arrival in Dallas three years ago, tight end Martellus Bennett has tantalized his coaches and teammates with an extraordinary array of physical gifts. Those gifts were on display again Friday. When Bennett ran a deep post route, Romo's pass led him a little too much. Bennett was able to reach out and get a hand on it, but he also stumbled while reaching for it. But he casually put his other hand down to regain his balance and reached out again with his other pizza-sized hand, snatching the top of the ball for a completion that brought howls of approval from his teammates.

Shooting for three: With nickel cornerback Orlando Scandrick out with a broken finger, Floyd took Scandrick's spot as the team's third cornerback in Friday's practice.

To the end: The Cowboys ran more end-arounds than usual, including several to Kevin Ogletree and Miles Austin, who was inadvertently decked (the players are working out without pads) on one play by defensive end Jason Hatcher … who quickly helped Austin to his feet, unhurt.

Line shuffling: Stephen Bowen worked in as the right defensive end with the first-team defensive line, in place of Igor Olshansky. In addition, rookie Sean Lessimore — an interior lineman in college at William & Mary — was working at right defensive end with the third-team defensive line.

Sleeker physique: Fans in the Dallas area have heard radio ads featuring former Dallas offensive lineman Nate Newton, who had gastric sleeve surgery to lose weight. Newton, who now co-hosts a show on the local ESPN Radio affiliate, showed up at practice Friday looking like a shadow of his former self. One of the most popular players in recent team history, Newton actually felt compelled to introduce himself to members of the media, as if everyone in attendance didn't know who he was. Newton said he has lost 93 pounds since he had the surgery, and is now down to 303, although he looks nowhere near that heavy.

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