So the Dallas Cowboys have knocked down one week of training camp, what have we learned? Well, for one, we know that Jason Garrett is going to be "deliberate" with certain veterans and their workloads. Each day, three veterans have been given rest. We know that quarterback Tony Romo will get some rest as the Cowboys settle their backup quarterback situation. As we stare down the first week of preseason football tonight with the Colts and Packers in the Hall of Fame game, the Cowboys will be having their annual Blue/White scrimmage today. Let's run through a few names to keep an eye on this afternoon.
#24 Morris Claiborne, CB
You can't avoid some of the vitriol spewed his way anytime someone mentions his name but there hasn't been a player that has looked as noticeably different as Claiborne. He may never live up to his sixth-overall pick billing, but Mo' has looked incredible this offseason and we would be lying if that hasn't been somewhat exciting.
His 1-on-1 battles with Dez Bryant have been the icing on the cake every single day in practice. Mo' is going to lose most of those battles but Bryant said himself that Mo' has brought the best out of him. They need Dez to be Dez and the only way they are going to get that is by having a fiery competitor challenge him. Dare I say it, Claiborne has set the tone for these defensive backs in week one of training camp. They have been grabby at times and have some work to do but it's a breath of freshness that we haven't seen in some time.
You can see that these guys have something to fight for and they have made it perfectly clear, they know what everyone says about them. You would never believe what you are capable of with a little added emotion and motivation. Claiborne is out there with an ax to grind and with every day, another piece grinds away. It's okay to be impressed with what you see and still have trepidation. Just know that if there were an All-Training Camp player, it's likely to be Mo'.
#81 Andy Jones, WR
This kid Jones has been abusing defensive backs and on one play he beat Deji Olatoye so bad that Deji seemingly tripped out of his shoes. This is one crowded wide receiving unit and anyone who wants to make it will have to beat out Devin Street or Lucky Whitehead. Maybe they have a shot at sneaking Andy Jones to the practice squad but I'll have my doubts if we continue to see him do what he's been doing.
Jones has shown to be a fluid athlete that plays with an edge much like what we see out of the All-Pro Dez Bryant. Jones has made every snap count for him and he's starting to catch the eye of the veterans, He was rewarded yesterday by getting some time to run with the ones. Acquisitions are a 365-day business as Jason Garrett has continuously let us know. You are always churning the roster and that means that just because Lucky Whitehead and Devin Street are good guys, they haven't earned anything just yet.
Andy Jones has size and physicality that makes you turn your head and look. All the plays that we've seen may suggest the Cowboys have found a new UDFA worth bringing along. Like I said, it's crowded at the top, Andy Jones has to continue to show that he's different and can give the Cowboys something more than what they currently have. So far, he's been doing well with his opportunity,
#53 Mark Nzeocha, LB
I assure you that I'm not trying to make O.C.C. do a happy dance but this kid is a baller. The German, as he is affectionately known in my heart, has shown that he has size and speed that may really serve this unit well in 2016. Can he break through and get more playing time? Only time will tell but he's certainly catching the eyes of spectators and folks who've seen him pop up on Training Camp Live.
He was even mentioned on Talkin' Cowboys by Mickey Spagnola who said he believes they have someone special in Nzeocha. Right now, his focus is getting more time on special teams and making every rep count when his number is called. Mickey went into detail saying that the Cowboys would have likely drafted him higher had he not hurt his knee. Nzeocha has been a pet cat of some folks around here and he's seemingly always around the ball with every chance I've had to see him.
He's very smart and knows how to uses his speed and size to his advantage. He's also been seen taking snaps with the first team at SLB while Kyle Wilber has been slowed with a tight back. Nzeocha could possible give them some different looks and I wouldn't be surprised if he makes a name for himself in preseason to warrant more opportunities.
#66 Mike McAdoo, DE
The first thing that jumps out at you is his tremendous size at 6' 7". He's another guy that has been making huge strides. He's likely to get some work with the ones too as he's beaten everybody else. He's got some power and quickness off the edge that jumps out and grabs your attention. He's got a violent nature to him as well and with a little Marinelli Magic, who knows what that can do for him?
We hear a lot about getting that eight-man rotation together and that means the young guys will get ample opportunities to earn a spot in that lineup. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is a pass rush. For all the negativity that we've thrust upon this unit, you have to commend their response. Does that mean it will translate on gamedays? Well, who really knows but you have to at least try to see what you have.
McAdoo has been thoroughly impressive with what we've seen thus far and now it's time to see how he does in this scrimmage. Everyone from Stephen Jones to Bryan Broaddus has mentioned him as being very impressive. Right now, McAdoo is outplaying the rookie and my pet cat Charles Tapper, that's enough to at least give him a shot to win your hearts and minds.
#30 Anthony Brown, CB
He's made some positive impact in just one week of camp and hardly looks like a sixth-round pick. He started off the week by picking off Tony Romo and showed some nice speed, too. He made his way to the starting lineup this week as well with the Cowboys' giving rest to certain veterans. Brown has quickly risen up the charts as a fan favorite to watch out in Oxnard.
Yesterday, he didn't allow a single completion in one-on-one competition. Bryan Broaddus has even said that he sees some "complete cornerback" skillset with Brown. Brown was even able to break up a pass that was headed to Cole Beasley but Beasley got him back later on. For a young guy still learning how to play the game at this level, it's a positive thing to watch him succeed.
The Cowboys had a fourth-round grade on Brown and got him in the sixth. He's been putting work in at every position and it should be exciting to see him make the most of his opportunities this afternoon. As Jason Garrett would say it's all about stacking good days on top of each other.