OXNARD, Calif., (KXAN) — With the first preseason game less than a week away for the Dallas Cowboys, the team’s defense is starting to take shape and five players will be looking for work after next weekend.

On Friday, the team announced the signing of former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr, a four-time Pro Bowl selection and nominee for the 2022 Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian of the Year Award. Barr signed a one-year deal during the first week of padded practice, and after months of interest, decided to join the team because he feels they can win right away.

“I wanted to be on a team I think has a chance to win. I wanted an opportunity to play at a high level, and I’m excited to be here,” he told DallasCowboys.com writer Patrik Walker. “I think Dallas is a contender.”

Barr is coming off injuries that kept him out of most of 2020 and six games of last season. He tore a pectoral muscle in 2020 and played just two games that season and knee issues sidelined him last year, but he said he “feels great” even though he hasn’t been on the field in nearly a year.

“It’s been seven, eight months since I’ve been on the field,” he said. “It’s just an acclimation period. I feel great. My body feels great. It’s about getting up to speed mentally, more so than physically, and once I get there I can hit the ground running.”

Barr was tremendous for the Vikings, and a big reason for that he said was because he worked with George Edwards, a defensive assistant for the Cowboys who was with Barr in Minnesota. Barr said the two developed a great relationship and he’s happy to work with Edwards again.

Edwards had nothing but good things to say about Barr.

“He’s a true pro,” Edwards told reporters. “He’s going to pay attention to the details. His study habits, with his preparation, goes along with the gifts that he’s blessed with athletically. He’ll be a good player for us. He’ll be good in our locker room. He’ll be good off the field. He’s a true pro at the end of the day, and that’s a credit to him and the attention he puts to the detail.”

Barr is currently on the physically unable to perform list, but only so he can get acclimated during training camp.

Rookie OL Tyler Smith adapting to new position

The Cowboys’ top draft pick in 2022, Tulsa offensive lineman Tyler Smith, is moving inside to left guard, and coaches said he’s picking it up quickly. He was a star left tackle for the Golden Hurricane and left the school after his redshirt sophomore season for the NFL.

He hasn’t played guard since high school, but offensive line coach Joe Philbin said he’ll be just fine.

“He’s come a long way in a short period of time,” Philbin said. “He was well-coached (in college) – they had a good program at Tulsa – but we’re certainly asking him to do some things that he’s not as familiar with and he’s learning every single day. I think once we get through this install phase in another day or two I think then he’ll really start to settle in a little bit more and can focus more on the fundamentals.”

Jabril Cox is on the mend

Another piece of the linebacking corps is set to come back from, “a ding,” soon.

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said second-year backer Jabril Cox is rehabbing from a knee injury not related to the torn ACL that ended his season seven games into his rookie year in 2021.

McCarthy said Cox was “doing good,” but the team is going to ease him back onto the field as he’s expected to be a big defensive piece for the Cowboys.

Cox, along with Micah Parsons, Leighton Vander Esch and Barr, make up a strong unit that could be leaned on to carry the defense.

What’s the deal with the kickers?

The Cowboys don’t have a kicker listed on their depth chart yet, and it might be a while before they do if kicks don’t go through the uprights at training camp.

Undrafted rookie Jonathan Garibay from Texas Tech missed two kicks badly during Saturday’s practice, including one that didn’t even make it above the crossbar. The other kicker in camp, Canadian Football League champ Lirim Hajrullahu, also missed two kicks.

Garibay was near-automatic for the Red Raiders last year, hitting 49 of 50 extra points and 15 of 16 field goals with a long of 62 yards against Iowa State.

Cuts are coming

As the preseason schedule advances, so do cuts. The first round of cuts happens August 16, where rosters will be trimmed from 90 to 85 players. A week later, five more players from each team will be out of work. and then the big cut goes down. On August 30, teams are required to have rosters down to 53 players.

The Cowboys play their first preseason game August 13 in Denver against the Broncos. They’ll travel to Los Angeles and take on the Chargers on August 20 and host the Seahawks on August 26.