Cowboys Sending Mixed Messages on Tavon Austin

The Cowboys completed their three-day rookie minicamp on Sunday and there wasn’t much action.

That was all part of Jason Garrett’s master plan.

“We want to make sure we get these guys integrated into our offseason program as quickly as we can,” Garrett said. “Right now, the field work is going to be all about jogging through and understanding our drills. We want to slow the process down.

“We don’t know where these guys have been leading up to this time. A lot of time these guys are traveling around and maybe their workouts have been as consistent as they need to be, so we want to slow it down and do more teaching, understanding technique and scheme in the first three days.”

Here’s some additional news and notes from the Cowboys rookie minicamp:

The Cowboys are already sending mixed messages about how they plan to use Tavon Austin, which is always a concern.

When the Cowboys acquired Austin during the draft, owner Jerry Jones and Vice President Stephen Jones lauded his ability to run the ball - not just jet sweeps and reverses - and give the Cowboys a dimension similar to the one Lance Dunbar used to provide as a change-of-pace runner.

In 2015, Austin had 52 catches for 473 yards and five touchdowns and 52 carries for 434 yards rushing and four touchdowns. If the Cowboys could get more than 900 yards from scrimmage and nine touchdowns from Austin they would be thrilled.

The addition of Austin is why the Cowboys didn’t draft that type of running back, but offensive coordinator Scott Linehan views Austin more as a receiver than a runner.

“He’s a receiver first,” Linehan said. “He’s really, in a lot of ways, some of his skill set is as an outside receiver, which is really unique, but he can move around to the slot.

“He can certainly have carries as well as catches from those positions. He can move into the backfield at times and, hopefully, get a matchup where he can run a route that’s typically run by a running back.”

Bottom line: The Cowboys must have a clear vision for Austin to maximize his talent.

More news:

* The Cowboys have all of their draft picks signed except third-round pick Michael Gallup. Leighton Vander Esch signed a four-year deal worth $11.6 million, including a $6.9 million signing bonus. He’s expected to start at middle linebacker.

* Defensive tackle Terrell McClain, who met with club officials on Wednesday and worked out for the Cowboys on Thursday, signed with Atlanta on Friday. The Cowboys thought he would be a nice addition to their defensive line rotation because he’s adept at playing nose tackle in their scheme. McClain spent 2014-16 in Dallas before signing a four-year free-agent deal with Washington in 2017. Washington cut him because they drafted defensive tackles in the first round each of the last two seasons.

* Secondary coach Kris Richard drew rave reviews from defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and Garrett. Richard has spent the past three years as Seattle’s defensive coordinator.

“This guy's really good. He is special,” Marinelli said. “He is one of the best things we've got. He did a terrific job in Seattle.

“The resume is in the tape. He brings energy, intensity. And he can relate well to these players. That’s what I really like. You get tickled when you get a guy like that.”

* Maliek Collins will have surgery to repair the fifth metatarsal on his left foot. He had a stress fracture in it at the end of the season. “The biggest thing he has to do is make sure he does whatever the doctors tell him to do,” Garrett said., “He just has to rehab day by day by day, be patient, stay engaged with the team and before he knows it, he’ll be ready to go.”

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