'Confident Where We Are': Will McClay Talks Cowboys Roster Changes
McClay is enthused by the arrival of several newcomers, even those who might be joining the program late.
As a former head coach and defensive coordinator in the Arena Football League, Will McClay is used to causing turnovers. This time around, the phenomenon wasn't as intentional.
The Dallas Cowboys personnel boss was forced to work with the departures of several notable names from a 12-win group that earned an NFC East title this offseason. Veterans La'el Collins, Amari Cooper, and Randy Gregory, key masters of the Cowboys' consistency in recent seasons, moved elsewhere for a variety of reasons.
McClay, having worked with the Cowboys since 2009, sees it as business as usual ... business he's well used to in the current role he's held over the last six years. He talked to KTCK to discuss the coming season and the challenges ahead.
"I think every year every roster is different. It’s the NFL. It’s attrition. You have to go through it," McClay said.
Despite the loss of over a decade of experience on the Dallas roster, McClay believes that the names gained this offseason have brought about a sense of balance to Dallas, which racked up strong numbers on offense but struggled to keep pace in several major defensive categories.
"In the NFL, you got to win on offense, defense, and special teams. That’s what you stress," McClay continued. "They have to come in and contribute at some level on the offensive or defensive side as well as special teams.The way that the guys have come in and the way that coaches are using them, you feel like you are able to see the talent. They’re not all going to be first-year starters when they come in, but it’s (about) what roles they feel as they’re developing."
"With the right coaching and right training, we’ll see those things quicker.”
Dallas kept a balanced draft in the spring, spending four of their first five picks on offensive contributors before using their final quartet on defenders. Blocker Tyler Smith was the first choice at 24th overall while the early offensive streak was interrupted only by EDGE man Sam Williams in the second round.
McClay, l ike owner Jerry Jones , sounds confident in the current group assembled.
He refused to elaborate, however, on whether any one or specific draft prospect has the inside edge when it comes to potential success in the modern NFL.
"I think all of them, we have got to get something out of as many of them as we can," McClay said. "You don’t want to put any pressure on any names, but guys got to step up and play. You were drafted and you have an opportunity to be here."
McClay's interview was conducted days before the Cowboys received the bad news about receiver James Washington, who is set to miss a good portion of the season after suffering a foot injury at training camp in Oxnard. Washington was projected to be one of the top secondary options behind CeeDee Lamb prior to his departure. ... (and after the Anthony Barr signing.)
But McClay was indeed asked about one of the catchers expected to rise up in Washington's place, namely KaVontae Turpin, the leading receiver in the rebooted United States Football League for the New Jersey Generals. McClay noted that USFL games were a frequent topic of discussion among the Cowboys' decision-makers and it yielded Turpin, a TCU alum that also secured the league's MVP award.
"I think he’s a talented young player with his ability to return as well as play in the slot," McClay said of Turpin. "He gives us another option there to look at different ways you can do things and be creative with getting playmakers the ball in space. He’s got all those traits.”
Dallas will open its 2022 preseason slate on Aug. 13 against the Denver Broncos (8 p.m. CT, KTVT/NFL Network).
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