In the first day of fully-padded practice at training camp for the Dallas Cowboys, there were old things, new things, borrowed things, and lots of Blue.
Tyron Smith and the rest of the starting offensive line looked to be in prime shape, particularly in one-on-one drills. Nothing new to report here, just dominance by a unit that we’ve come to expect dominance from. All the running backs had their moments, with Ezekiel Elliott showing the burst and wiggle that made him a first-round pick. This was not unexpected, though Darius Jackson might be a little bit of a surprise given his late sixth-round status. But this is old news. We pretty much knew these guys could play.
Deji Olatoye got by Vince Mayle on a bubble screen and borrowed Lucky Whitehead's cleats after knocking him out of them. Speaking of things borrowed, rookie Anthony Brown made the first interception of camp, diving on a low throw by Tony Romo to Cole Beasley. Significant that it was Romo. Significant that the ball was low in that it probably was meant to be away from a possible pick. Significant that it was Beasley, who is notoriously difficult to cover.
But there were some new things as well. Terrence Williams had a nice leaping hands catch. Rookie Andy Jones has had his name come up more than once in comments on his catching ability and he looks to be making a case for himself. By and large the defense won the team portion of drills, giving the lie to the idea that they are largely and broadly incapable.
The star of the day, however, was unquestionably Morris Claiborne. He reportedly broke up six passes on the day, while working against multiple receivers from both the left and right side. Claiborne seems to be playing with a renewed fire and vigor and if he develops into even a portion of the player the Cowboys envisioned when they traded a first- and a second-round pick for him he can bring a lot of help to a (verbally) beleaguered defense.
Tyrone Crawford rested again, and the team was concerned enough about his back to get a precautionary MRI done. Still, at the end of practice he told Mike Fisher "I am good... short term thing." That’s a good sign for the defense, who will need Crawford to continue to improve and perform all year like the player who has shown so much potential.
There were no new injury reports, though Claiborne did get up gingerly once, but returned to the field after a little stretching. That and Dez Bryant reportedly has a blister on one heel. Dez continued to struggle some, in no small part due to Claiborne's spirited defense, but also stayed after practice for extra work, catching footballs thrown from about three yards away. Orlando Scandrick sat out of some portions of practice, presumably a part of the "managed" crew.
Most of all, it’s good to have some hitting.