Here are the base numbers to the five-year contract signed by rookie receiver Dez Bryant, as filed with the NFLPA.
He got a $1.95 million signing bonus and an immediate $570,000 roster bonus
His base salaries and cap values are:
2010 $320,000 and $1.28 million
2011 $1,112,500 million and $1,502,500 million
2012 $1,335,000 million and $1,725,000 million
2013 $1,557,500 million and $1,947,500 million
2014 $1,780,000 million and $2,170,000 million
His first year take of $2.84 million puts him third on the wide receiver pay list behind Roy Williams who will take home $12.9 million this year, including a $9.5 million bonus that has already been paid and a $3.4 million base salary. Miles Austin is next with a salary of $3.168 million while Patrick Crayton will get $2 million this season.
Linebacker Stephen Hodge is dressed out and stretching with the special teams guys. He does not have on shoulder pads and is not carrying a helmet. But he's doing more than he has been doing. The former TCU safety had microfracture surgery less than a year ago, and there has been speculation that he might start the year on the physically unable to perform list.
Left tackle Flozell Adams was the oldest tenured Cowboys player before he was cut in March. Now that distinction belongs to center Andre Gurode.
But either way, the leader of the Cowboys offensive line hasn't changed and that's Marc Colombo, who sets the tone for the Cowboys linemen on and off the field.
“He was always the leader in the classroom," coach Wade Phillips said. "With Flozell or anybody here, he has always been our leader in the classroom. And a little bit on the field too. He is kind of a vocal leader too, so it’s not a big change there. He is really good in the classroom; one of our best.”
Phillips said it also helps that Colombo is healthy again after missing seven games last year with a foot injury. He came back for he playoff loss to Vikings and didn't have a good outing. Phillips said he regets that decision.
But he is happy Colombo is back and ready to go.
“He is fine," Phillips said. "He was hurt last year in the last game, and I probably shouldn’t have let him come back, and he did. He ended up not doing as well as he can do, but he is fine now. He is a great technician, he works hard at what he does, and he is great effort player so he is the kind of guy I like.”
With rookie linebacker Sean Lee sidelined for a few says with an injury, second year man Jason Williams is getting extra reps at the nickel and dime linebacker position on passing downs. It's the position Bobby Carpenter played last year before being traded to the Rams in the offseason.
Lee and Williams are competing for the position.
“We are looking at him at the dime position on third downs; the position that Bobby Carpenter played," coach Wade Phillips said. "He is probably a little faster than Bobby was so he has some ability in that area. We are working him a lot in that area, but we’re working him in our regular stuff and in the dime. But I think in dime, it’s just amazing how fast he is. I think that’s what is going to show up on the field. He runs the ball every play, he has great habits, and in the open field he can break down real well. I don’t think he is going to miss many tackles. Sometimes guys with a lot of speed don’t break down well, but he has the ability to do that. It will take some work, and he is frustrated and we are frustrated when he doesn’t do it perfectly. But he is getting closer.”
Williams was slow to adjust to the pro game and the Cowboys scheme last year after being drafted in the third round of tiny Western Illinois. He is more comfortable now and it shows.
“He reacts a lot faster this year," Phillips said. "Being in the defense and even in the offseason has helped. Some of the run stuff that he had trouble with last year, he has no problem with now. A couple of the boot passes where the guy comes from the other side, he was not seeing them last year and this year he is covering them just like that. So he will tell you he feels a lot better in that area.”
Rookie receivers typically have a hard time in their first seasons. That's why the Cowboys are trying to keep things simple for Dez Bryant right now. They have him practicing at one position -- the X.
"He is learning to play on the outside," receivers coach Ray Sherman said. "If you throw a lot at him, you're going to confuse him and slow his growth down. You have to get him in a spot and get him comfortable, with the system and also have him understand all the other components of the route, what those entail. Then, you can branch him out to other parts."
Miles Austin is spending time in the slot during training camp. The Cowboys are hoping to get him in single-coverage situations by moving him inside some.
"He may see less double coverage in there, because they have to know where he is if you have him in the same spot all the time they can gameplan to take him away. That is why you have to be able to move him around."
Patrick Crayton, Sam Hurd and Kevin Ogeltree also are seeing practice time in the slot position.
The Cowboys produced only 21 takeaways last season. Only four teams had fewer -- Cleveland, Oakland, St. Louis and Washington. That has been a point of emphasis for the Cowboys defense.
To that end, Terence Newman started a competition among the defensive backs.
"We are challenging each other: You have to get picks to not do push-ups," Newman said. "It's another way to get us to compete with each other and try to make the team better. I was walking out one day and said, 'Hey, whomever gets the most picks doesn't have to do push-ups. Loser does 40."
Newman was the winner on Thursday and stood over his teammates as they did their push-ups.
David Buehler responded well to the release of the only other kicker in camp by going 6-for-6 today. The Cowboys worked on shorter kicks and all were 30 yards or less, but those are the kicks that have to be automatic.
“It’s good when the field goal kicker doesn’t miss any,” Cowboys coach Wade Phillips deadpanned. “That makes you more confident. He’s been working at it. I do think he’s gifted. He obviously has a strong leg, but he has a smooth delivery of the ball. When he hits it, he doesn’t hit a hook. His is straight and end over end and those the kind that are the best candidates for field goal kickers.”
Buehler finished first in the NFL with 29 touchbacks on kickoffs last year, but Phillips said the kicker has been even better in camp. He is working on kicking more kickoffs to the left this season. Phillips said a lot of Buehler's kickoffs wen to the right side last year.
"He's controlling the ball better," Phillips said, adding that Buehler is kicking off even better than he did last season.
The Cowboys tied for third in penalties last season with 115 accepted. (Another 13 were declined.) The team’s biggest infraction was false starts. The Cowboys were called for 26 false starts. Seven of those stalled drives, according to stats compiled by the NFL.
Flozell Adams, who was cut in the off-season, had six false starts. Tight end Jason Witten also had six. Right tackle Marc Colombo had four.
NFL officials met with the Cowboys players on Thursday night and will be at practice Friday.
“We haven’t had many false starts [during training camp], but that’s a point of emphasis for us this year,” Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. “Any kind of penalty situation we’re going to go over and make sure our players know all the rules. We’ll work with [the officials] so we can help ourselves in that area.”
The Cowboys made roster moves Thursday. They cut kicker/punter Delbert Alvarado and defensive lineman Lorenzo Washington, signing defensive back/return specialist Teddy Williams and Texas A&M Kingsville defensive lineman Jimmy Saddler-McQueen.
Washington has had a hamstring injury that has kept him out, and the Cowboys needed defensive linemen for practice. Sean Lissemore (groin), Josh Brent (hand) and Jason Hatcher (elbow) all are out with injuries.
Saddler-McQueen originally signed with the Bears as an undrafted free agent but was cut before training camp. Williams was a four-time All-America sprinter at UTSA. He did not play football.
Troy Aikman says he was joking when he told TMZ that he would appear on Dancing with the Stars "next year." After his "joke" became news, Aikman tweeted that he would, in fact, not be on DWTS, because it "interferes with American Idol auditions."
It seemed unrealistic and unlikely that Aikman would have appeared on the reality show in September since he is busy as a football analyst with Fox. Aikman's former teammates Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith have previously appeared on DWTS, with Smith winning in 2006.