“Fun Awkward”: Cowboys Veterans, Rookies Meshing


FRISCO – Dallas Cowboys rookie Tyler Smith isn’t your average 21-year-old. The Fort Worth native can explain the nuances between left guard and left tackle while performing both positions with the first team, while earning praise from coach Mike McCarthy after just a few weeks of wearing the Cowboys star .

McCarthy called Smith an “alpha personality”, who has already impressed many veteran players.

On the first day, however, the new millionaire got lost trying to find the training center locker room.

Quarterback Dak Prescott smiles as he describes his favorite part as Cowboys rookies mingle with veterans for the first time on the field at Dallas team organized activities.

“The questions are always the most important,” Prescott said. “These guys come in and ask a question that reminds you and realizes how quickly 6 or 7 years go by. I feel like I was here yesterday, asking myself these same things about vets, how to take care of your body or the best way to study the playbook.

“These natural conversations where they’re trying to become a pro and looking for the answers and the techniques and the tools to do it. It’s fun.”

In the Dallas locker room, Prescott requested that CeeDee Lamb’s locker be moved next to his, in place of the late Amari Cooper. The Cowboys’ leading receiver of 2021, Lamb is looking to dominate as the No. 1 receiver this season. As Michael Gallup works on a return from a torn ACL, other receivers are battling for Prescott’s catches, including rookie Jalen Tolbert.

What’s the best way for a young receiver to earn the Cowboys quarterback’s respect?

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“Catch every ball thrown at him,” Prescott said.

Expectations are high, as always with Dallas, for the nine rookies drafted. Smith, Tolbert, linebacker Sam Williams and tight end Jake Ferguson are looking to make an early impact on the team, especially now that they have located the locker room on the 91-acre campus that is the Cowboys’ headquarters.

“My favorite thing is how nervous these youngsters are and some of the awkward exchanges you have with them,” veteran running back Ezekiel Elliott said. “It was fun. We have a good rookie class with big personalities.”

Like Prescott, Elliott is also entering his seventh season in Dallas. He’s just 26 with two NFL running titles under his belt. As rookie Smith blocks for Elliott, he can’t help but be stunned by the level of play.

“It’s different from what you see on TV,” Smith said. “My favorite part is seeing how special the veterans are. How tight their fundamentals are. It gives me some appreciation for the game because I’m trying to get to where they are.

“It’s going to take a lot of hard work on and off the field to accomplish the same things as the veterans,” Smith said. “But veterans are helpful and trying to get us there. I know it’s not like that everywhere, so it’s a blessing to have.”

So far, Smith sees the role as a future NFL starter with notable strength. But… off the field? He “sort of” knows where everything is in the building.

Smith joked, “Although I didn’t go to the left side after the dining room.”

Someone give him a ride… or at least a map.


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