Cowboys Training Camp: The growing bond between Dak Prescott and Mike McCarthy

OXNARD, Calif. — The Cowboys have completed eight training sessions, three of them full-length, since training camp began on July 27. Here’s the latest notebook from what took place at the two turf driving ranges behind the Marriott Residence Inn on West Vineyard Ave.

Anthony Barr has officially signed his one-year contract

The four-time Pro Bowl linebacker spent the last eight seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. During the first six, George Edwards, the Cowboys’ current senior defense assistant, was Minnesota’s defensive coordinator. The ninth overall pick of the 2014 draft is slated to give Dallas even more flexibility on the position and likely give Micah Parsons more opportunities to rush the passer. Parsons had 13 sacks during his season as NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. There’s no reason to believe he can’t improve on that number and once again be among the leaders in this category.

“I think when you look at packages and how we present Micah, I think that gives you another weapon, another excellent player on and off the ball,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said of Barr. “We want to be multiple in our defense packages and we want to continue to develop different rushing plans. He’s a great fit for us.”

More about Micah

Because Parsons has spent so much time in both the linebackers and defensive line briefing rooms, Cowboys LB coach Scott McCurley has also attended all briefings. “When a player works in both rooms,” McCarthy said, “I think special treatment is required.” McCarthy said they considered doing something similar with running back Tony Pollard and a member of the coaching staff because Pollard spends a lot of time in the meetings of the running backs and wide receivers.

Coach and QB

During a recent interview with CBS Sports, McCarthy mentioned a story about Dak Prescott, who was at the team facility waiting to be picked up from rehab last year while recovering from a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle. With Prescott on crutches, McCarthy walked past him on the Star’s loading dock. The Cowboys head coach offered to drive the franchise’s QB home. They ended up hanging out at Prescott’s house and chatting over iced tea on the back porch.

“I definitely remember that,” Prescott said. “As I continue to say, that’s my type. He’s a great coach. He’s a great player-coach in a way. You wouldn’t want to say he’s just a player-coach, but he’s doing things right. He takes care of us. He builds his relationships. We have a great relationship that has continued to develop.

“That (drive home) was early when I broke my leg. He’s only been here a year. But just so we can talk, talk about the past, talk about the present and where we’re going in the future. It seems like yesterday, but then again it seems like forever ago. Right where our relationship is now, that’s my husband. I will go to war for him every day.”

Was the discussion on the back porch more about life or football?

“Typically for me those conversations have always been more about the personal (stuff), specifically what he was going through at the time,” McCarthy said after a news conference this week. “That was more of an illustration of what the pandemic has done. These were obviously crazy times for all of us, but starting out as an organization’s head coach and not really getting the opportunity to meet your quarterback. That was a cool moment. Unfortunately it took so long to have moments like this.”

Dan Quinn

How much raise did Quinn get to remain the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator? “The first rule of fight club is never talk about fight club,” joked Quinn. “Unless my Jersey roots have changed, you don’t talk about contracts. Honestly I’m having a great time here. I’m really. And I enjoy the whole process of what we do. I just want to add value, first for (McCarthy) and for the defense. From time to time you find out where your feet are and you are in a good space and you feel it. That’s how I really feel here.”

Quinn on McCarthy

Both insist their relationship is great after an offseason in which Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was purposely vague about McCarthy’s coaching future in Dallas because he wanted other teams to believe Quinn could be the team’s next head coach . Jones insists he played it all along to keep Quinn as the team’s defensive coordinator.

“I sat in his seat,” Quinn said of McCarthy. “On that pitch I had someone who would help me look around the corner in Atlanta. There was a guy named Raheem Morris who would say, ‘Hey Dan, think about it.’ That’s one of the nice parts for me. I can look around for Mike on some of those corners to point out some things that might be coming down the road. “Let’s look at this.” I just didn’t want to use uncertain terms, make me look around corners. I can’t turn the corner. I love my relationship with Mike. I like working with him. And I respectfully know (which) was a discussion outside the building, but it’s never one inside. So, with all due respect, this will be the last question on this topic. I absolutely have fun with him. That’s one of the reasons I came to Dallas in the first place.”

foosball battle

Lirim Hajrullahu clearly had the better day on Thursday. He was 7 of 8 during the field goal portion while Jonathan Garibay was only 4 of 8. The longest kick for both was from 49 yards. During the mojo moment segment of the workout, Hajrullahu was 3 of 3 while Garibay was 3 of 4. At this point neither has a huge lead in the competition as both have had their share of fights. But none of that matters if one or both are doing well in their drills with the Broncos and Chargers and preseason.

More touches for Tony Pollard

Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore says it’s “definitely fair” to wonder why Pollard wasn’t touched more last year. In its fourth season, his role will be expanded. This is expected to include more goals in the passing game and more snaps with both Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott on the field at the same time.

“He’s a guy we want to get the ball to,” Moore said of Pollard. “He’s had a lot of success when he gets those opportunities. I think the running back role is one thing, certainly if he and Zeke can pull that role together as a team, but then it’s another opportunity for him to expand that role and play in different positions, out in space and stuff like that he is certainly capable of more. I think the more we expand those roles, the more opportunities he’ll have to get out there and socialize.”

The latest from Zeke

Elliott has 7,386 career rushing yards. He believes he can play long enough to reach 10,000 yards. “Obviously that’s a goal,” Elliott said, “to win a Super Bowl and get a gold jacket. There aren’t many guys in gold jackets who haven’t rushed 10,000 yards.”

Elliott is not expected to play preseason. “I’ve been playing football for 20 years. This is my seventh year (in the NFL). I saw a lot of football. I don’t think I need a preseason game, especially with practice together (with the Broncos and Chargers).”

Stephen Jones

The Cowboys’ executive vice president told 96.7 The Ticket that they have not yet entered into contract extension talks with Pollard, who is in the final year of his rookie deal. “There are some things we need to look at moving forward,” Jones said, “in terms of that running back position and the cap and how that works, in terms of Zeke and Tony and how we handle the two together . So we’ll continue to see how that plays out as the year progresses. But the goal is to have Tony Pollard back here next year.”

While Jerry Jones said there was no urgency to add another wide receiver after James Washington broke a bone in his right foot earlier this week, Stephen Jones said on The Ticket that they are “always looking for an upgrade”.

“I would say we probably wanted to upgrade before the injury,” he added. “We’ll just see what’s going on out here. … We keep trying to improve our squad at every position.”

CeeDee Lamb, when asked if he’d like to see the Cowboys with an experienced wide receiver: “We can play it through for a while. I don’t mind having another vet here. I’m never against help. But I like my boys at the moment. I want to see what they can do.”

Working on the deep ball

For the first time at camp, the Cowboys snapped some shots on the field during individual drills Thursday. Prescott connected with Simi Fehoko and Lamb on back-to-back deep balls defended by All-Pro cornerback Trevon Diggs. At one point, Cowboys defensive back coach Al Harris and Diggs exchanged words about how far Diggs played near the line of scrimmage.

Injury updates

Second-year linebacker Jabril Cox “pulled” his knee in a recent practice session and was suspended in the last two practices as a precaution. Cox is coming back from a season-ending knee injury so he’s spent the last few hours of practice working on the resistance cords. The Cowboys insist Barr’s signing has nothing to do with Cox’s health or any concerns about it. Cox is expected to return to training on Saturday. Tight ends Jake Ferguson (hamstrings) and Jeremy Sprinkle (Achilles) also didn’t train Thursday. None of the injuries are considered significant.

(Top photo of Mike McCarthy (left) and Dak Prescott: Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports)

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