Minicamp has concluded in Frisco, Texas and all the citizens of Jerry World are now patiently awaiting the start of training camp in July.
But the final day of minicamp offered up a few nice surprises according to DallasCowboys.com's Bryan Broaddus. Here's five Cowboys turning heads at minicamp:
5. Cedric Thornton, DT
The seventh-year pro Thornton is entering his second season with the Cowboys, after spending his first five years in Philadelphia. He's vying for a starting spot in the middle of the defensive line.
"Cedric Thornton had a good spin move on Chaz Green on a 3rd-and-2 run by Ezekiel Elliott to capture him for a tackle for loss," wrote Broaddus. "Green completely whiffed coming off the ball and Thornton’s move was the reason why. Thornton will go into camp as the starter at the one-technique. With more plays like that, there is a good chance of him holding onto that job."
4. Byron Jones, FS
Losing strong safety Barry Church and corners Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr this offseason obviously hurt the Cowboys backfield. But the third-year safety Jones is coming off an optimistic 2016 season in which he made 88 tackles and one interception. He's slated to start at free safety and minicamp was one indication of that.
"I like what I am seeing from Byron Jones in coverage," wrote Broaddus. "Playing in the slot, Jones didn’t let Brice Butler bully him coming off the line and was able to stand his ground. Butler tried to push off for position but it didn’t work – Jones was able to knock the Prescott pass away, which allowed the defense to get off the field."
3. Lance Lenoir, WR
The Cowboys signed undrafted and unknown rookie wideout Lance Lenoir just two days ago. Lenoir, 22, grew up in Chicago and played college ball for Western Illinois. His first few days with the 'Boys apparently went well.
"I love the effort by newly-signed Lance Lenoir to get noticed in these practices. Lenior came up with a heck of a diving catch during 7-on-7, but he just couldn’t get his feet down quick enough to get the call. If Zac Dysert put the ball a little more inside, Lenior would’ve had no problem and it’s a touchdown," wrote Broaddus.
2. Anthony Brown, CB
Brown, a second-year corner out of Purdue, has a chance to show Cowboys coaches what he's worth.
The problem is all the competition at his position. Dallas loaded up on corners in the second, third and sixth round of the NFL draft with Colorado's Chidobe Awuzie, Michigan's Jourdan Lewis and Florida State's Marquez White.
But according to Pro Football Focus, free agent signee Nolan Carroll may have lost himself a job. (A DWI this summer didn't help his cause). And Brown looks to be taking that nickel spot.
"Anthony Brown was outstanding in these minicamp practices. His positioning on these routes has been text book. It doesn’t matter whether he’s carrying Dez Bryant or Terrance Williams, he’s been in position to knock passes away. Williams tried to run a fade on him during 7-on-7 and Brown would have none of that. What was most impressive about the play was that Brown managed to stay off Williams without looking for the ball. Once Williams’ hands went up, he extended his hands, causing Williams to juggle the pass. Once Williams regained the ball, both of his feet were out of bounds," wrote Broaddus.
1. Anthony Hitchens, MLB
Hitchens returns as Dallas' starting middle linebacker, an Ohio boy who started three years at Iowa in college. The 25-year-old played all 16 games last year for the first time in his three years. This season he'll look to build off a career-high 78 tackles last year.
"I can’t say enough about the way Anthony Hitchens has performed in these practices. He made a play on Ezekiel Elliott in space that saved the defense during the four-minute drill. Elliott came screaming out of the backfield, going right to left, before any defender had a chance to react. With how quickly he got open, I am surprised that Hitchens even had a chance to rally toward him. Prescott floated the ball in Elliott’s direction and he made the reception -- but before he could get six yards up the field, Hitchens tagged off for the tackle. What could have been a huge, back-breaking play instead put the offense in a 3rd-and-4 situation," wrote Broaddus.
Source: Dallas Cowboys · Photo Credit: Keystone Press Agency