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Five Early Thoughts On Cowboys 2016 Training Camp

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys are back at work in Oxnard, California, preparing for the 2016 season. They have only had three practices so far, and only one those has been in pads, so it's tough getting a read on things. But that won't stop us from analyzing the data and jumping to conclusions. It's what we do. So let's jump right in.

1. Buy Or Sell Morris Claiborne?

Once again, Morris Claiborne is shining early in training camp. Yesterday, in the camp's first real competitive practice much of the talk was about Claiborne and how well he practiced. He knocked down multiple passes and looked like a cornerback worthy of being picked sixth-overall years ago. But, we've seen this before. Even last year he started out camp looking like a renewed player, only to end up looking more like the guy that has frustrated Cowboys fans over the years. Injuries always seem to slow him down at some point. Will this year be any different?

2. Romo & Dez Renew Acquaintances

Tony Romo and Dez Bryant have been a deadly duo since Bryant has come into the league. They have a connection that has been strengthened by days of practice repetition reinforced by plenty of games spent together carving up defenses. All of that came to a halt last season. As Todd Archer noted:

It was the first time Romo and Bryant were in pads together since Thanksgiving of last year. They started and finished only one game together last season. Bryant suffered a broken foot in the season opener, and Romo suffered a broken left collarbone a week later.

Of the Cowboys' 969 offensive snaps last year, Romo and Bryant were on the field together for just 123 of them.

It's going to take a bit, but Romo and Dez took their first reps together on Monday in their quest to get back to where they left off. By all accounts there was some rust, but by the opening game, they should be firing on all cylinders.

3. Tyrone Crawford's Nagging Back

The defensive line just won't leave us alone. Suspensions, injuries, inexperienced players, it's the nightmare that won't go away. Tyrone Crawford is expected to be the main guy early on before DeMarcus Lawrence gets back, but now he's ailing with a back issue. At this point, it's nothing to panic about, he says it's a short-term thing, so we should all believe him. But after playing much of the season last year with injury, everybody was hoping Crawford would return and be injury-free in 2016. Maybe in a week or two, we'll have forgotten all about this little blip. If we haven't, then maybe we start to worry.

4. Charles Tapper's Fast Start

All Cowboys fans are looking for someone along the defensive line to give us renewed hope. The lack of pass rush experience and sacks has been noted over and over. So any good news on a player is going to cause an overreaction, so let's overreact. Bryan Broaddus says this about Tapper:

Charles Tapper looked like an edge rusher in this practice. There were several snaps in 1-on-1 where he was off the ball before the tackle had a chance to react. What was even more impressive was the way Tapper was able to finish his rush. He showed power, along with pass rush moves (spin) in order to free himself to get to the level of the quarterback. Tapper was also able to get up the field in the running game, where he had a tackle for loss during Team Period and was able to later retrace his steps in order to get back to the ball.

It's just one practice, but... is there hope?

5. And Then There's Zeke...

The Cowboys fourth-overall pick made his debut in a padded practice for the Cowboys. Once the pads came on, the defense wanted to have a little fun, and that included giving the rookie a few pops in his unofficial "Welcome to the NFL."

The rookie running back took several carries during the full-team portion of the afternoon practice, and he got popped on virtually every one. Sean Lee met him in the hole on his first carry of the afternoon. Moments later, Kyle Wilber lowered his shoulder and put Elliott on the ground. Barry Church perhaps drew the biggest reaction when he flipped Elliott into the air on a tackle in the hole.

Nice to see the competition happening and that Zeke is getting his induction into the real grind of the NFL, but let's be careful guys! Zeke's a pretty important piece of the puzzle for 2016.