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Cowboys News: Ezekiel Elliott Likely To Miss Preseason Opener, Plus Camp Highlights

As training camp in Oxnard continues, the Cowboys prepare for their first preseason game. Don't expect to see the fourth overall pick play against the Rams.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Five thoughts from Cowboys training camp - Drew Davison, The Star-Telegram
Davison recounts a scary moment for Anthony Hitchens and a continued strong performance from Dak Prescott among his five thoughts.

Dak Prescott had another solid day, completing 8-of-13 passing in team drills. He actually had only one poor throw, as he spiked the ball three times and had an incompletion when running back Darius Jackson let the ball slip through his fingers. Afterward, Prescott said he feels like he is making quicker decisions as camp progresses.

A scary collision happened when receiver Terrance Williams hit linebacker Anthony Hitchens during team drills. Hitchens went down for a few minutes before walking off under his own power. Hitchens managed to return to practice, a good sign for the linebacker-depleted Cowboys.

Five Observations From Wednesday's Practice - OCC, Blogging The Boys
OCC can't hide his excitement about the defensive line.

I know it's fashionable to pooh-pooh the Cowboys defensive line. But after two live practices, I have to admit that my excitement is building. Granted, these two practices coincided with the return of Tyrone Crawford, Terrell McClain, and Cedric Thornton to practice, but this D-line clearly has potential, especially inside.

Today, DeMarcus Lawrence would have had a sack against Tyron Smith during team drills, David Irving would have sacked Romo up the middle, and Ryan Russel had a would-be sack on Dak Prescott that exemplifies what this D-line can do: The DTs crashed through the middle of the line collapsing the pocket, Prescott couldn't step up to avoid pressure, and Russell got him coming from the outside.

Scout's Notebook: Evaluating The Fullbacks, David Irving's Progress; More - Bryan Broaddus, Dallas Cowboys
Among his notes from the Cowboys’ Wednesday afternoon practice, Broaddus has a positive note about Irving and a sobering note about the fullbacks.

Didn’t feel like it was the best day for the pass protection on the first offense during the Team Blitz period. There were two separate occasions where defensive pressure was able to prevent Tony Romo from attempting a pass. The second sack of the period came on four-man pressure when David Irving got such a jump off the ball that he was in the middle of Doug Free, and before he knew it, drove him into Romo’s lap. It was the first extensive action that we have seen from Irving working with the first defense in these practice and throughout the practice, he took full advantage of the opportunity.

[...] These preseason games should tell us a great deal about whether the learning curve for Rod Smith and Keith Smith is just too much. If the coaching staff wants a real fullback, then they just might have to wait see who shows up on that waiver wire here in the next three weeks.

Camp Sights: Daily Hot Takes Include Another D-Day & Smith vs. Smith - Staff, Dallas Cowboys
The four staff writers each hive their take on practice, and today we are going with Bryan Broaddus, who saw a lot about the pass defense he liked.

Came away extremely impressed with the linebackers and secondary during the 7-on-7 period. The focus of the work took place in the red zone and I have to say that the defense won the majority of the battles. Standing directly behind the secondary, I didn’t see any plays where there were gaps in the coverage. The group appeared assignment sound and technique sure.

Wed. Practice Recap: Romo Recalls First Preseason Game; Irvin Visits; More - Staff, Dallas Cowboys
Sean Lee was pissed yesterday.

Sean Lee was none too pleased with how easily the first-team defense gave up a touchdown to Alfred Morris during the two-minute drill. Tony Romo moved the offense into the red zone with several timely passes, and then he completely caught the defense off guard with a quick handoff inside to the veteran running back. Morris scored from 10 yards out, prompting a harsh round of criticism from Lee – none of which can be reprinted here.

Cowboys training camp notebook - Drew Davison, The Star-Telegram
Skirmishes continue to break out at training camp, but the "family fight" shows the Cowboys are ready to take on another team, Davison explains.

The competitive juices continued to flow Wednesday. Linebacker Sean Lee and tight end Geoff Swaim had an extended shoving match, and then a fight broke out between defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving.

"Brothers fight and get over it," Irving said. "I messed up a call. That’s not good for the team, so you get that sometimes. But we’re cool. Family fight."

Lawrence and Irving exited the practice field together laughing, and are clearly ready to go against players from another team.

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Zeke Making Progress But Misses Another Practice As Rams Game Nears - Rob Phillips, Dallas Cowboys
Asked Tuesday about Ezekiel Elliott’s availability for Saturday’s preseason opener against the Rams, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said, "We’re just going to take it day by day."

"He is making progress," Garrett said, "and again he falls into the category of soft tissue injuries that you have to be pretty deliberate with before you bring guys back. We’ve had other guys like that. That’s one of those injuries if you bring him back a day or two too soon all of a sudden you can have a six- or seven-week injury and we don’t want that for him or for anybody else on our team. He’ll continue to work on the side. He’s done a little bit more each day. Not going to practice today but we’ll see how he does over the course of the coming week."

Betting Odds Released: Which NFL Coach Is Getting Fired First? - OCC, Blogging The Boys
Head coaches are fired every year, and they'll be fired again this year. But which coaches are on the hot seat entering this season?

That's not to say that Garrett isn't under any pressure. Jerry Jones signed Garrett to a $30 million, five-year contract in January 2015, and while Garrett will get a chance to turn around last year's 4-12 season, he's entering his sixth season in Dallas, and it's time to show results.

For Travis Frederick, snaps are no longer a snap - Todd Archer, ESPN
Pre-snap movement of the ball is a point of emphasis for NFL officials this season, so centers like Dallas' Travis Frederick must change old habits.

"I thought it was quick-movement issues, but it turns out it's not," Frederick said. "It really has to do with the angle of the ball. We're fortunate to have the refs come out here and give us those speeches, and then also come out to practice and help explain it to us, because I was unaware what I was doing was wrong."

Cowboys OC Scott Linehan could head up to booth for a preseason game - Drew Davison, The Star-Telegram
The NFL is now allowing coordinators to directly call plays from the booth to the coordinator.

Linehan hasn’t been in the booth since he coached at Louisville in 2001. Coaches can see plays develop and get a better feel for the defense’s coverage in the booth, but that comes at the expense of communicating with players over the phone

Why the Cowboys might not want to trade Ronald Leary for a backup QB - David Moore, SportsDay
Moore recently joined SportsDay DFW's Ballzy podcast with Barry Horn to talk all things Dallas Cowboys.

Ron Leary is having a very, very good camp. I think as the season goes on I think there's a chance he could move before the trade deadline. Again the thing with him is because he has played so much...they can hold on to him for insurance and then get a compensatory pick for him next year that is going to be pretty good. They don't want to give him up and get nothing in return just for the money. You have to weigh that by letting him go now what you're losing in a compensatory draft pick going forward. So that factors in on him. Sure, that's in play as well.

Player Postcard: Byron's Development, Showers' Struggles, King Shows Up - Bryan Broaddus, Dallas Cowboys
Bryan Broaddus is going to write a report on three different players after every practice. From the team’s most prominent players to its no-name camp bodies, this is a place to read about what’s going on across the Cowboys’ roster.

Jones has looked comfortable playing as the safety in this scheme. Overall coverage and range has been acceptable. He did struggle on a 1-on-1 route against Jason Witten with his positioning. He allowed Witten to separate from him and wasn't able to put himself in a position to drive back on the ball. He has been physical when it has come to sticking his nose in the action. He wants to be around the ball and in the pile. Shows a willingness to hit and go for the strip, and he works to create turnovers. He had an exceptional play on the goal line where he teamed with Derek Akunne to keep the ball out of the end zone. He was able to step up, then wrap up with some strength and leverage. Jones is also developing as a blitzer -- starting to see more of him being used that way. He was able to get home during the two-minute drill to force the ball out quickly by Dak Prescott. He appears to be gaining the trust of his teammates as well when it comes to his communication skills.

Don't look for Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott in preseason opener - Todd Archer, ESPN
Ezekiel Elliott will likely miss Dallas' preseason opener due to a sore hamstring.

"[Elliott] falls into the category of soft-tissue injuries that you have to be pretty deliberate with before you bring guys back," head coach Jason Garrett said. "That's one of those injuries if you bring him back a day or two too soon, all of a sudden you can have a six- or seven-week injury and we don't want that for him or anybody on our team."

Chaz Green is favorite to win swing tackle job - Drew Davison, The Star-Telegram
Injuries have kept second-year man Chaz Green from making his NFL debut. He’s on target to do it this season and more.

"I noticed Chaz Green the last couple of days really picked up his game when he got a chance to go for Tyron and go for Doug," Jones said. "You know, those are big deals for those young guys."

Still think the Dallas Cowboys have too many running backs? - David Moore, SportsDay
Remember a few months ago when everyone thought the Cowboys had a glut at running back?

Rookie Ezekiel Elliott is being held out of practice with a sore hamstring, or, as head coach Jason Garrett likes to say, "a soft tissue injury." Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar are currently on the physically unable to perform list.

So, who is getting the snaps in practice? Veteran Alfred Morris, sixth-round pick Darius Jackson and Rod Smith. There's no need for Morris to play Saturday, so look for Jackson and Smith to share the workload.

What To Expect From The Starters On Saturday Against The Rams - David Helman, Dallas Cowboys
Every year, reporters speculate about who will and won’t play in preseason games. Every year, coaches do their best to keep it a secret.

"Obviously, your starters don’t play that much in the first preseason game, they don’t play a lot in the fourth preseason game – that’s not unique to us. That’s everybody around the league," he said. "But these games are really, really important, and they’re very valuable reps for everybody on the team. If you play six plays or 66 plays in the game, it’s an important opportunity for you to show yourself and be the best version of yourself. That’s what we’ll emphasize to our team."

Dallas Cowboys know they need to win to keep gaining fans - Jean-Jacques Taylor, ESPN
It has been 21 years since the Dallas Cowboys reached the NFC Championship Game, and the team's brass knows they need to win to keep gaining fans.

"I'm worried every day that we don't get a championship," Jones said earlier this offseason. "You worry about that all the time. That's why we're very aggressive in trying to get there. It's just not acceptable in our minds that we haven't been able to win a championship in so long."