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Cowboys Coach Kellen Moore Defines ‘Starting Point’ for Tyler Smith and Jalen Tolbert

Knowing they have huge cleats to fill, Kellen Moore is looking to work the Cowboys' major rookies in "as many spots as possible".

The early stages of the NFL Draft allowed the Dallas Cowboys to regroup after their offense went through an uncomfortable offseason. 

Plenty of veteran firepower returns, but the team had to address the offseason departures of La'el Collins, Amari Cooper, and Cedrick Wilson. Two of their first three picks addressed those not-so-happy trails: their opening pick was used on Tulsa blocker Tyler Smith while South Alabama receiver Jalen Tolbert arrived in the third round.

Coordinator Kellen Moore, the overseer of the Dallas offense, is aware that this weekend's rookie minicamp won't fully prepare Smith and Tolbert for the difficult process of making fans forget those lost contributors. He did, however, partly outline a plan to get started, notably hinting that he wanted to throw the two in as many scenarios as possible. 

Smith, for example, is currently hypothesized to fill the left guard spot vacated by Miami-bound Connor Williams. Moore, however, was quick to say that he plans to move Smith in a variety of roles. 


"We’ll let the thing play itself out through the entire offseason," Moore said. "At times, we may bump him out at tackle and may let it play itself out. So, it’s a pretty good start.”

Moore is taking a day-by-day, step-by-step approach with Smith, remaining mum when asked about the warning signs of a possible positional shift. 

"We’ve got baselines for everyone," he said. "We’ll see where the roster takes you.”

Head coach Mike McCarthy concurred, warning fans to not get "too caught up on exactly where Tyler is playing.”

Smith, the 24th overall pick in Las Vegas last month, has spent the weekend working alongside fourth-round choice Matt Waletzko on the left side of the line. He primarily played tackle during his time with the Golden Hurricane but is enthusiastic about his new interior work after his first day on the job. 

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"It was a change, for sure. But I felt like, today, I really rose to the challenge," Smith said. “Of course, there's more to improve upon. (For example), I even realize that, just in the way I step. It's all different."

"But having (offensive line coaches Jeff Blasko and Joe Philbin) teach me and taking me through the steps, they're doing a great job getting me up to speed." 

Tolbert was the 88th overall selection who thrust himself to Day 2 with a productive Senior Bowl. Moore plans to start him out in the Z-receiver's role left behind by Cedrick Wilson, who joins Williams with the Dolphins.  

In the same breath, however, the Dallas offensive boss expressed a desire to give the USA alum snaps in the slot. It's a challenge that, in Moore's eyes, Tolbert's work ethic has already earned. 

"We’ll get him moved all around the field. We like to do that with a number of our receivers. So, we’ll do the same thing with him," Moore said. "He’s awesome. I think he works his tail off. I think you can tell how prepared he is and how detailed he wants to be. I think he’s going to be a really good addition for us."

Undrafted free agents Dontario Drummond, Ty Fryfogle, Dennis Houston, and Jaquarii Roberson are among the receivers working with Tolbert in Frisco. 

Though the Cowboys are expected to use several rookies to fill the needs brought about by lost veterans, Moore noted that the weekend was better spent on the administrative duties required of the NFL freshmen. 

"I think it’s really about how you operate yourself. Just take care of all the little things from traveling here, hotel, media, the weight room stuff," Moore said.  "They kind of get situated with that, then we let the football stuff play itself out. So, take care of all of that business and the football will take care (of itself).”