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Malik Hooker Arriving at Camp; Here's Cowboys' Next Step to Signing

Quinn and the Cowboys, who once essentially picked Kazee over Hooker, now will likely end up with both of them - a process that continues with Hooker's physical presence here in Oxnard.

OXNARD, Calif. - The Dallas Cowboys' plan to sign Malik Hooker is accelerating, with the standout-when-healthy safety having arrived at training camp here in Oxnard. But that doesn't mean he's ready to practice or play just yet, because there are two layers of "medicals'' to be observed.

One, of course, is the re-check of his Achilles rehab. The other? COVID protocol.

Hooker must enter a five-day COVID testing period. That does not preclude his signing, part of a process that could be finalized by Wednesday. It does, however, raise the possibility that he is not yet vaccinated, in addition to whatever rehab issues he might have.

Hooker will join a group that is led by Damontae Kazee, formerly of the Falcons. Kazee could end up being the starter at free safety, with Hooker playing alongside him and maybe jumping ahead of incumbent Donovan Wilson. Or Hooker could eventually win the free safety job.

Kazee's visit in the spring at The Star in Frisco, went well, especially the medical testing. A source says that's the reason he got the nod (via a one-year contract) over Hooker, who, contrary to reports, was never offered a deal by Dallas.

Kazee has re-joined his former coach Dan Quinn in Dallas. Dallas also signed Jayron Kearse to a one-year deal. He is mostly a special-teamer, but at 6-4, 216 comes with background as a safety, too.

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Kazee, 27, is a ballhawk. But despite his penchant for takeaways (he recorded seven interceptions in 2018), the former fifth-rounder is smallish (5-10, 184) and he's coming off an injury issue, as he tore his Achilles' tendon in Week 4 of the 2020 season.

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The Cowboys came away satisfied with his rehab, and he's been a participant in work here at camp.

Hooker, 25, was a college superstar at Ohio State and was an instant hit for the Indianapolis Colts as a first-round pick in the NFL Draft. But injuries have slowed his career. Like Kazee, Hooker tore his Achilles, ending his 2020 season. But the rehab has seemingly been a slower process for him.

Therefore, the Cowboys waited. But this second visit from Hooker seems destined to work out. And Quinn and the Cowboys, who once essentially picked Kazee over Hooker, now will likely end up with both of them - a process that continues with Hooker's physical presence here in Oxnard.

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