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Cowboys plan to meet Cam Newton

INDIANAPOLIS -- Projections show the Dallas Cowboys targeting a cornerback, tackle or defensive end with the ninth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

But could their sights be on a bigger target?

At least two members of the front office said the Cowboys will interview Auburn's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Cam Newton during the NFL Combine this week.

The move is more about doing due diligence in case Newton is available. He is projected as a top-five pick, possibly going first overall to Carolina or No. 3 to Buffalo.

Other possible targets for the No. 9 pick that the Cowboys will likely interview are Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara, Alabama defensive tackle Marcel Dareus and North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn.

Bryant progressing

Dez Bryant showed flashes in his rookie season. Now, in his rehab, he's starting to get his groove back.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said the receiver has "made progress" in his rehab of a fractured right fibula, advancing to running "a little bit.

"He's going through his rehab, and it's been a positive experience for him," Garrett said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We have great people with the Cowboys who take him through that stuff. It's getting better."

Bryant was injured Dec. 5 on a kickoff return in the Cowboys' 38-35 overtime victory over the Colts in Indianapolis. He had surgery the next day to have a plate inserted in his right leg to stabilize the bone. He was put on injured reserve after making 45 catches for 561 yards and six touchdowns. He also scored twice on punt returns.

Garrett said new receivers coach Jimmy Robinson will help Bryant's development. Robinson left Green Bay to join Garrett in Dallas, replacing Ray Sherman as Bryant's position coach.

"He's a very experienced football coach, and he's coached a lot of different kinds of guys," Garrett said of Robinson. "He's coached star players; he's coached role players; he's coached young guys; he's coached old guys; and they [all] seem to respond to him."

Woicik honored

New Cowboys assistant Mike Woicik was honored as NFL strength coach of the year in a vote of his peers. It was the third time he has been so honored, also winning the award in 1992 and 2004.

Woicik's six Super Bowl rings -- three with the Cowboys, three with the New England Patriots -- are more than any player or head coach in NFL history.

OT possible at No. 9

Owner Jerry Jones has said the Cowboys could look at an offensive tackle with the No. 9 overall pick. Aside from left tackle Doug Free, the Cowboys struggled on the offensive line.

It would be a departure from the franchise's draft philosophy. Since 1967, the Cowboys have selected only two offensive linemen in the first round.

But several offensive tackles are worthy of their pick. Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi declared himself the "No. 1 tackle out there" on Thursday.

"Because of the players I've gone against -- four potential first-round players I've gone against [last season] -- I have a better résumé of going against better talent than anyone else, so that makes me more [pro] ready," Carimi said.

Carimi was referring to teammate J.J. Watt, a defensive end he went against in practice, as well as Iowa's Adrian Clayborn, Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan and Ohio State's Cameron Heyward.

Boston College's Anthony Castonzo did not bring as much bravado with him, though his résumé is similar. He, too, was a four-year starter, with five more starts than Carimi, and he went against North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn and Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers.

"That's his opinion," Castonzo said of Carimi's declaration. "It's what we've put on film. I'm not going to stand up here and say I'm better than him or he's better than me. It's for the scouts to decide based on what we've put on film."

USC's Tyron Smith and Colorado's Nate Solder also are highly rated.

Staff writer Clarence E. Hill Jr. contributed to this report

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