Wed, 22 Sep 2021

Updates: Malik Hooker Back On The Field

Dallas Cowboys
28 Jul 2021, 04:24 GMT+10

by Nick Eatman, Rob Phillips & David Helman

Don't miss any of the action with our daily updates: news, notes and more throughout the Cowboys' regular season. Presented by Sleep Number

July 27 Updates Malik Hooker

#28 S

Height: 6-2 Weight: 212 lbs College: Ohio State

10:04 am - The Cowboys are getting closer to signing safety Malik Hooker, a former first-round pick. After completing his five-day COVID-19 protocols, Hooker was able to work out on the field for the first time.

If that goes well, it's expected he will be signed, meaning the team would have to release a player to make room on the 90-man roster.

"This is a chance to get it another excellent player, head coach Mike McCarthy said. "Any time you have a chance to continue to build with a competition on the roster, you do it, if it works out for both sides."

--------------------------------------- July 26 Updates Neville Gallimore

#96 DT

Height: 6-2 Weight: 302 lbs College: Oklahoma

12:30 a.m. - There will likely be an interesting positional battle at defensive tackle in Cowboys' training camp with some rookies and veteran free agents added to the mix this offseason. But according to Mike McCarthy, second-year player Neville Gallimore showed up to Oxnard helping his chances of becoming a starting player in the defense.

McCarthy claimed that Gallimore has "taken a huge jump in the offseason." As a rookie, Gallimore saw more and more playing time as the defense faced numerous injuries. He ultimately played in 14 games, starting nine of them and showed impressive flashes in the second half of the season.

The Cowboys' head coach emphasized that the defensive tackle, who measured at 6'2 and 307 pounds in 2020, committed himself to strength and conditioning since the end of last season. He also alluded to a post-rookie jump that has resulted in a "complete understanding" of the defensive playbook.

--------------------------------------- July 25 Updates Mike McCarthy

Head Coach

College: Baker University Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

10:15 a.m. - Only a few days into training camp head coach Mike McCarthy confirmed that the organization is going through the process of potentially adding fifth-year safety Malik Hooker.

"There's definitely interest," McCarthy said. "I think he gives us another excellent football player. We just feel he'd be a really good fit for us."

Hooker will have to go through NFL protocol, requiring him to pass five separate COVID-19 tests before he officially signs with the organization and joins the team in practice, making it unclear when exactly we would see him in a Cowboys' jersey. The 25-year-old safety was a first-round pick by the Indianapolis Colts in 2017, but has battled injuries for much of his career, including a torn Achilles forcing him to miss most of the 2020 season.

The team showed interest in Hooker back in the beginning of free agency, ultimately signing Damontae Kazee. McCarthy said Sunday that bringing in Hooker does not mean that the team isn't satisfied with their current safeties, but rather they are taking an opportunity to acquire a talented player.

"This is a conversation that's gone on for quite some time."

--------------------------------------- July 24 Updates La'el Collins

#71 T

Height: 6-4 Weight: 320 lbs College: LSU

4:17 p.m. - It's been a long road back for La'el Collins after hip surgery last fall, including 18 weeks on crutches while watching the Cowboys struggle to a 6-10 record.

"It was tough mentally, physically, just laying there not being able to be around the guys and go to battle with the guys," he said. "That was one of the hardest things."

But now he's back, taking part in team drills here in training camp for the first time in almost a year.

Collins credited the Cowboys' athletic training staff for his rehab, including director of rehabilitation Britt Brown.

"He really helped me build that confidence back so that when I got out here I felt like there was no limits. I feel like I can get right into it now," he said. "The biggest thing now is getting back into that football shape: breaking the huddle, getting to the line, breaking the huddle, getting to the line, running plays going left, going right. That type of stuff."

A long road back, but the veteran right tackle says he never considered walking away from football, disputing a false report back in February that retirement was a possibility.

"I've got too much left in the tank," Collins said.

--------------------------------------- Francis Bernard

#53 LB

Height: 6-1 Weight: 230 lbs College: Utah

9:12 a.m. - Second-year linebacker Francis Bernard injured his hamstring during fundamental drills in Thursday's first practice, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said.

The exact timeline for Bernard's return is unclear, McCarthy said. The Cowboys return to practice Saturday here in Oxnard.

--------------------------------------- July 23 Updates

12:22 p.m. - If there was a thought that Dak Prescott, coming off an ankle injury last season, would be held out of preseason games, that doesn't seem to be the case.

Head coach Mike McCarthy didn't provide much specific detail, but made it clear Dak would get some action in at least one of the four exhibition games.

"I anticipate Dak playing in the preseason."

McCarthy declined to speculate on whether Prescott would play as early as the Aug. 6 Hall of Fame against the Steelers in Canton, Ohio.

"Come on, I can't give you everything," McCarthy joked.

--------------------------------------- Dallas Cowboys

8:22 a.m. - The Cowboys still have an open roster spot remaining after conducting a workout here in Oxnard with a free-agent cornerback.

The team took a look at former Vikings CB Holton Hill, who has played 28 gams over the past three seasons in Minnesota. But the Cowboys have decided not to sign him, leaving the roster at 89 players.

That will give the team the flexibility to add a player in case of injury or to add depth to a spot in need.

--------------------------------------- July 22 Updates Damontae Kazee

#35 S

Height: 5'11 Weight: 174 lbs College: San Diego State

4:21 p.m. - Before there was "Hard Knocks," there was ... Dan Quinn?

Safety Damontae Kazee shared a unique story about how the Cowboys' new defensive coordinator helped improve Kazee's on-field communication skills when Quinn coached him in Atlanta:

"I played corner my whole life, so going to free safety, you've got to be like a quarterback on the defense," Kazee said. "When I got there I was completely quiet. I was nervous, so I didn't really talk. He mic'd me up (at practice) and we went in there and watched it. I sounded weird just listening to myself, but it was good. He got me to talk."

Kazee signed with the Cowboys in the spring, reuniting with Quinn and former Falcons safety Keanu Neal. He says he feels "great" in his return from Achilles' tendon surgery in 2020.

--------------------------------------- Hunter Niswander

#7 P

Height: 6-4 Weight: 243 lbs College: Northwestern

10:33 a.m. - One of the participants on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list to open training camp was place kicker Greg Zuerlein, who had offseason surgery on his back. Zuerlein is entering his second season with the Cowboys and his 10th season in the NFL. Head coach Mike McCarthy claimed on Thursday that the injury is not a long-term concern, and that the team is just being cautious to start training camp.

In the meantime, punter Hunter Niswander will be filling in.

"Niswander will be handling all the kicking and punting so this is a great opportunity for him," McCarthy said.

The punter was signed to the Cowboys' practice squad in October of 2020 when Chris Jones was placed on injured reserve. Niswander averaged 47.2 yards per punt which was among the best in the NFL. The Cowboys released Jones in March, making Niswander the starting punter going into training camp.

--------------------------------------- NFL

10:02 a.m. - On Thursday, the NFL issued a memo stating that if a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players prevents a regular season game from being played and the game cannot be rescheduled then the team with the outbreak will forfeit the game and a loss will be credited to their schedule in terms of playoff seeding. The other team will be credited with a win. A number of safety and logistics factors will determine whether the game can reasonably be rescheduled.

Last season featured a number of spontaneous schedule changes and logistical nightmares due to COVID-19 outbreaks. The Cowboys, specifically, had to adjust their schedule numerous times due to the domino effect from outbreaks among other teams. A game against the Baltimore Ravens, for example, originally scheduled for Thursday, December 3, was ultimately played on Tuesday December 8. The Cowboys lost 34-17.

Stephen Jones said on Wednesday that he expects the Cowboys roster to be 85 percent vaccinate, or higher, by the start of the season.

------------------------------------------ July 21 Updates Randy Gregory

#94 DE

Height: 6-5 Weight: 255 lbs College: Nebraska

4:01 p.m. - Jerry Jones took a moment in Wednesday's opening press conference to training camp to address his thoughts on Randy Gregory, who will not be suspended or restricted by the NFL going into training camp and Week 1 for the first time since his rookie year in 2015. Gregory has faced various suspensions throughout his career with the Cowboys due to repeated violations of the league's substance abuse policies.

"I have been really impressed by the way he's stayed the course with legitimate life challenges," Jones said. 'I'm seeing him use the logic and the mentality from what he's been through and bringing it over to his game and to being the professional that he has the potential to be. He has a lot of tread on his tires."

Jones said that the organization and Gregory have worked together throughout his career to stick out the partnership throughout numerous setbacks.

"He's a great teammate. He would be in the top five percent of not having issues [in the locker room]. In terms of being a person, he's always been worth the extra investment of time. It's what's out ahead of him that excites me the most," Jones said. "We've never questioned his talent. I look forward to him really having a big year."

-------------------------------------------- Mike McCarthy

Head Coach

College: Baker University Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

11:32 a.m. - The second-year Cowboys head coach claimed that he had initial hesitancy in getting the COVID-19 vaccine, but that the Cowboys organization welcomed medical professionals who emphasized the vaccine's importance and practicality.

"I was not particularly 100 percent on board with the vaccination," McCarthy said on Wednesday. "But through the relationships we're fortunate enough to have in the medical community, you watch and you listen. I think that same approach was given to our players. We just wanted to make sure that they have the facts. I made a conscious decision to get the vaccination."

This summer Jerry Jones has encouraged the community and his players to get the COVID-19 vaccine. On Wednesday, he implied that there were only a "handful" of players who were not "in the pipeline" to get the vaccine. Stephen Jones said that he expects the team to be 85 percent vaccinated by the Hall of Fame game.

"I do think we'll hit that [85 percent] threshold," Stephen Jones said.

-------------------------------------------- Chauncey Golston

#59 DE

Height: 6-5 Weight: 268 lbs College: Iowa

8:45 a.m. - With third-round pick Chauncey Golston signing Wednesday, the entire Cowboys draft class is now under contract.

Golston and third-round pick Nahshon Wright were the only remaining unsigned draft picks as the Cowboys arrived in Oxnard, California for training camp Tuesday afternoon. Wright announced on social media Tuesday night that he signed his rookie deal.

The Cowboys' first camp practice is scheduled for Thursday.

-------------------------------------------- July 20 Updates Nahshon Wright

#40 CB

Height: 6-4 Weight: 185 lbs College: Oregon State

10:45 p.m. - The Cowboys arrived in Oxnard, California with only two of 11 draft picks unsigned, third-round picks Chauncey Golston and Nahshon Wright, and Wright announced on Instagram late Tuesday that he has signed his rookie deal.

That means only Golston, a talented rookie defensive end out of Iowa, has yet to sign, and the Cowboys still have another full day before their opening training camp practice scheduled for Thursday.

-------------------------------------------- July 17 Updates Rashard Robinson

#28 DB

Height: 6-2 Weight: 177 lbs College: LSU

3:05 p.m. - With the start of training camp just days away, the Cowboys have released veteran cornerback Rashard Robinson.

In April, the NFL suspended Robinson for the first two games of the regular season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Robinson spent most of last season on the practice squad but was signed to the active roster in December. He appeared in four games (three starts) and had 21 tackles.

With Robinson's release, the Cowboys technically have an open roster spot since the NFL has granted an International Pathway Program exemption for offensive tackle Isaac Alarcon, who spent last year on the practice squad and will participate in training camp again this year.

-------------------------------------------- June 28 Updates Dalton Schultz

#86 TE

Height: 6-5 Weight: 244 lbs College: Stanford

9:16 a.m. - As expected, tight end Dalton Schultz was part of the first-ever TEU seminar over the weekend, pitting the very best tight ends in the NFL.

Schultz told the media a few weeks ago that he accepted the invite and would join the game's top players at this position, including Travis Kelce and George Kittle and about 50 other tight ends.

The three-day event was an opportunity for players all over the league to come together and share tips, secrets and techniques with each other.

Last year, Schultz filled in for the injured Blake Jarwin, and had easily his best season of his career, catching 63 passes for 618 yards and four touchdowns. Schultz became just the fourth tight end in Cowboys history to record 60+ catches in a season, joining Jason Witten, Doug Cosbie and Jay Novacek.

Jarwin was invited to attend, but declined as he continues to rehab his torn ACL injury, in hopes to be ready for training camp.

-------------------------------------------- June 18 Updates Donovan Wilson

#6 S

Height: 6-0 Weight: 204 lbs College: Texas A&M

10:17 a.m. - Safety Donovan Wilson did not participate in last week's team minicamp due to a "slight injury" that the Cowboys are just being cautious with, head coach Mike McCarthy said.

"A little soreness, but it's nothing that's going to hold me back," Wilson said last week. "Just going to work on that this offseason and come back for Oxnard ready to go."

In his second NFL season, Wilson emerged as a productive starter last year. Despite only 10 starts, Wilson ranked fourth on defense in tackles (68) and pass breakups (4), tied for third in sacks (3.5), tied for second in interceptions (2) and forced fumbles (3) and tied for first in fumble recoveries (2).

"I'm just looking to build off that and put together a better season this year," Wilson said. "Just work as hard as I can this offseason to make that possible."

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