There's one member of the Dallas Cowboys who's both expected to take on a larger leadership role and who is seemingly taking that advice to heart.
No, it's not your usual suspects: guys like Jason Witten, Sean Lee, Dak Prescott, Dez Bryant or the entire offensive line.
Instead, a new emerging leader for the Cowboys could be new starting free safety Byron Jones. That is, Byron Philip Boss Jones.
Jones will step into the starting role after J.J. Wilcox, the previous starter from 2014-15, left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Cowboys fans will likely remember how Wilcox lost his starting job in 2016 to Jones, the first-round pick out of Connecticut.
Now in 2017 the job is all Jones', and it's time for him to step up. Per the Dallas Morning News' Kate Hairopoulos, his teammates actually need him to emerge.
As Marnielli said, "this is his time." It's his third year in the league. Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox left in free agency. The secondary needs him to emerge as more of a leader. That's why the coaches liked it so much when he engaged with TE Jason Witten during minicamp and things got a little chippy. Competition and giving a dang are good for everybody.
“For me, it’s an opportunity to step up,” Jones told Cowboys.com. “You’ve got older guys that are gone. What am I going to do to respond? For me, it’s stepping up and leading the young guys and steering them in the right direction so we can win some games.
This August will be a very interesting test for Dallas as they begin the preseason with two new(ish) safeties. Jones has starting experience but assumed new strong safety Jeff Heath earned his way into a starting role after years spent on special teams. For the first time in years, the Cowboys won't have a bonafide star at the safety position.
Still, things are looking up for the secondary as a whole. The 'Boys signed Nolan Carroll from the Eagles over the offseason, but we're hearing more and more rumblings that Anthony Brown is good enough to steal his spot. Throw in Orlando Scandrick at the number one spot and the Cowboys won't have anything to be ashamed of.
Earlier in minicamp, Cowboys.com scout Bryan Broaddus had this to say about Jones:
"I like what I am seeing from Byron Jones in coverage," wrote Broaddus. "Playing in the slot, Jones didn’t let Brice Butler bully him coming off the line and was able to stand his ground. Butler tried to push off for position but it didn’t work – Jones was able to knock the Prescott pass away, which allowed the defense to get off the field."
In two seasons the 24-year-old has recorded 154 tackles, an impressive 19 passes defended, one interception and one forced fumble.