The Cowboys staff writers offer a summary of the day's events, including how the defense gave Ezekiel Elliott a few "Welcome to the NFL" moments, how rookies Darius Jackson, Charles Tapper, and Andy Jones stood out. Here's a two-for-one about the running backs:
From the outsider’s perspective, it was easy to think that the Dallas defense was sending a message to their vaunted new running back: welcome to the NFL, rook. Church said that wasn’t the case – just the results of a competitive practice.
"You’re reading a little bit too much into that," he said. "We were just playing the game. He came up to the hole a couple times and we just gave him a little pop."
[...] It’s expected that Alfred Morris would get overshadowed by Elliott’s selection at No. 4 overall in the draft, but the veteran running back did his best to re-insert himself into the conversation on Monday. Morris ran exclusively with the second-team offense, but he burst into the second level on every carry he took.
The first day of padded practices for 2016 is in the books, and the storylines are many. Our Jim Scott had one of the first summaries of the action to go up, including what will likely be the biggest story of the day.
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.
Morris Claiborne shines in Cowboys’ first padded practice - Drew Davison, The Star-Telegram
Claiborne is looking to bounce back from an injury-plagued 2015, and he looked outstanding in yesterday's first padded practice.
He had multiple pass breakups, holding his own multiple times against Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams. Claiborne dealt with a little bit of cramping midway through the afternoon session, but missed only a few snaps.
"I felt real good," Claiborne said. "I just have to turn some of those into interceptions. I can’t complain. It was a good day."
Claiborne got off to a fast start in training camp a year ago, but he battled injuries much of the season. He also wasn’t as productive as desired with no interceptions.
Davison with a summary of the day's highlights, including how Ezekiel Elliott found the going tough against the Cowboys’ first-team defense, how Morris Claiborne impressed on the first day in pads in Oxnard, how Tyron Smith looks in midseason form, and how Jason Witten and Barry Church had words. And there's also this:
Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott is making positive impressions early in camp. He must make the transition from running a spread offense out of the shotgun to the pro game, but quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson sees promise. Said Wilson: "He’s so athletic, he’s super smart, great work ethic. A lot of information to process, but he’s got such a great work ethic, it shouldn’t be an issue."
Broaddus saw a "physical, hard-fought practice" and shares his impressions from yesterday, including how he liked what he saw from Ryan Russell, Morris Claiborne's great day, how he was impressed with rookie Charles Tapper, and an observation about the Cowboys' defensive tackles that has got to have Cowboys fans smiling a little.
Without Tyrone Crawford in the lineup, Terrell McClain lined up at the under-tackle while Cedric Thornton was at nose. I thought this was a pretty nice combination, especially from what I observed during the Inside Run Period. The defense knows that every play is going to be some type of a run, so they can pin their ears back and get up the field. McClain and Thornton were able to do just that -- but what made it impressive was that they were able to accomplish that against Travis Frederick, Zack Martin and La’el Collins. McClain and Thornton were difficult to handle each snap they took -- maybe a better word is disruptive. Frederick had a hard time moving Thornton, who was able to match him power for power.
The idea for the Cowboys is to try and replicate the success the team had two seasons ago, and it looks like they are extending that to including regular rest days for quarterback Tony Romo, per offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.
"We did a little bit more last year, we stretched it and it worked OK," Linehan said. "But I felt like he was getting a little bit sore, more sore than the year before, so we'll go back to the 2014 camp schedule.
"We will try to do it like that, (two on, one off) but we'll play it by ear."
There is a certain amount of discontent at the thought of Kellen Moore being Romo's backup this season, but he remains the heir apparent for the position. And those Romo rest days may be important for him in a variety of ways.
"I think a lot of it is the communication with the O-line," Moore said. "Tony and (Travis Frederick) work a lot together. They've got to communicate a lot, make adjustments and stuff, so I think it's important when I get those chances to make sure Trav and I are on the same page with things."
One of the stranger stories to come out of the first few days of camp has been all about whether Romo came to camp overweight and out of shape. It is all based on one unflattering picture snapped and shared on Twitter by beat writer Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. And it all seems to be much ado about bad camera angles.
But, as we all should know, sometimes the camera lies.
Given the concerns about the lack of proven pass rushing ability on the Cowboys' defensive line, this understandably created a lot of concern.
Defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford will not participate in Monday's first padded practice due to a sore back, head coach Jason Garrett said.
However, the word from the staff and from Crawford himself is that this is not a major setback and should not cause everyone to be concerned.
Talking with some folks involved they were not. https://t.co/V9yTQoIaCO— Bryan Broaddus (@BryanBroaddus) August 1, 2016
Claiborne has been a disappointment to this stage of his tenure with Dallas, but as mentioned above, he got off to an outstanding start. He is determined to prove himself this year (if he can only stay healthy), and he is trying to find every way possible to help the team. That extends to returning kickoffs, something he has been lobbying special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia about for two years.
The Cowboys special teams coach has finally relented. Claiborne worked there during the offseason program and was back returning kicks in the team's first special teams practice of this training camp Monday morning.
With all the action taking place on the field, there is still a lot of interest in the saga of Jaylon Smith and his regenerating nerve. By now he must be getting tired of being asked about it continuously, with no real news, but he remains the very picture of positivism.
"It's a lot of adversity," he said. "But for me everything I do I have a clear-eye view, which is a focused vision and a determined belief in earned dreams. That's just something I've been living by.
Another off-field story that has developed is the interest the Cowboys have in working on a contract extension for Pro Bowler Travis Frederick, who has become such a central part of the offensive line (pun fully intended). But that is not his concern at the moment.
"For me, this camp is really about coming out and trying to get better individually and and get our group better and focus on football, not on (contract negotiations)," Frederick said. "I have an agent that deals with all that stuff. If they get anything done, he'll bring it to me and we'll get things figured out."
Just wanted to throw this one in for fun. In a roundup of predictions from radio sports reporters around the country, this was submitted by Damien Barling of KHTK in Sacramento.
Bold Prediction: Tony Romo will play all 16 games, and Dez Bryant will lead the league in all major wide receiver categories.
Training camp is a long haul, a case of stacking one good day on top of another, to coin a phrase. Here are some things from the first two days that you may have missed.
Sullivan is one of the more perceptive observers of the Cowboys, and he has several great takes from the first few sessions, including this about first round pick Ezekiel Elliott.
Now, I'm not a scout, but I've seen a lot of football. And Elliott's first step isn't quick, it's an explosion and even with that burst, his ability to cut in either direction comes with the natural ease that most of us drink a milkshake. Watching the first three workouts, it's like he possesses one of those old school acceleration buttons on a video game controller. Except that he utilizes it every snap.
Hill is no slouch at things, either, and he offers a succinct look at how Dallas plans to address the questions at defensive end.
While the Cowboys like the young guys they have competing for reps and plan on giving them a chance to grow and develop in training camp, they will look at the waiver wire and veteran free agents for help before the start of the season if they don't see significant progress. The Cowboys believe there is no point signing a veteran like Dwight Freeney now. He doesn't want to be in camp and his presence would take reps away from a young guy.
So much focus has been on suspended players, questionable accusations, and who didn't show up in Oxnard that it has overshadowed the fact that there are some truly admirable people with the Cowboys organization. That was beautifully illustrated at the start of camp when the team had family members of the police officers recently slain in Dallas, along with the city's mayor and police chief. Jason Garrett summed it up.
"Our players are really pretty special," Garrett said. "You've heard me talk a lot the last couple of days about the character of our football team. We have some rare guys in our locker room and they're the guys that make up the culture of our team. We're very deliberate in trying to bring those kinds of guys to our team. I think there are so many great examples for us as coaches every day as to why we think it's such a privilege to coach these guys. But I don't know if there is a better example of what happened [than Saturday]. To have Jason Witten and the other leaders of our team initiate this and be so thoughtful in trying to carry it out and make sure these families know that we support them during this very difficult time, I thought it was special. I think everybody responded well to it."
As he walked off the field Saturday, Jerry Jones said, "I've never been so proud of the players in my life."