Inflicting punishment on your opponent is the bread and butter of any man who wages battle in the trenches of the National Football League, even when that ‘opponent’ normally wears the same color jersey that you wear on Sundays. Skirmishes between teammates happen. They always have; they always will.
Emotions boiled over during the second round of padded practices for the Cowboys. The offensive and defensive fronts exchanged extracurricular blows on Thursday with Tyrone Crawford and Zack Martin serving as the prime combatants. Both play with passion and that enthusiasm spilled over at times but no long-term damage was done.
Martin said there was no need for Crawford to apologize.
"No," Martin said. "When it's clean...
"Tyrone, gosh, is a big, strong prideful guy. When we go at it like that, it makes us better. Now, we need to do a better job of getting reps and not taking so much time from the drill, but that competition is great.
"It's good for us to feel that and get after it a little bit."
After months away from actual contact, it is a good thing to see the players ready to mix things up a bit.
The other thing that always happens around this time of year is that somebody is fighting hammy issues. That somebody is rookie Ryan Switzer this time around.
“I just kind of got jerked in the wrong direction when I was trying to accelerate,” Switzer said. “That’s all. Nothing big.”
Switzer, 22, said he has never dealt with a hamstring injury before.
Fortunately the Cowboys fourth round draft pick does not have a past history with hamstring problems. For now the team is handling the situation as a day to day thing, but with this team’s history of similar issues nobody will rest easy until Switzer is back to full capability.
Ronnie Hillman has been around the league for a while, and even with a potential suspension of the Cowboys top running back a possibility, Hillman is not just an insurance policy. His presence adds a different wrinkle to a Dallas attack that depends on success in the ground game.
"I remember watching him in playoff games and playing with the Denver offense that was so prolific," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said of Hillman. "He's still young. He's going to bring some really good experience in this league. He's a different style back, size and style. So he's going to be able to add a dimension for us and we'll see. We're going to let him absorb our offense a little bit before we get him right in the fire, but we're excited what he brings to us."
Think of him as potentially filling the shoes of Lance Dunbar if you will. He will be able to do something that no other back on the roster is likely to do and it might find him a role with the club when the season starts.
Doubling down on news from Archer we come to an exciting tidbit about something that has long been an issue for Dallas: takeaways.
The Dallas Cowboys' defense showed feistiness with perhaps over-the-top aggression in pass-rush drills at training camp Thursday, but it also showed feistiness with its play in team drills.
The defense intercepted three passes (Anthony Brown, Mark Nzeocha, Chidobe Awuzie) after forcing three fumbles in Wednesday's practice. The defense won the three "compete" periods as well.
Three interceptions and three forced fumbles is sure to put a smile on the face of Rod Marinelli, although likely only behind closed doors. His charges clearly asserted themselves on Thursday and that is exactly what the defensive guru is looking for.
Dak Prescott is the man in Dallas, and while he is not letting it go to his head, he does know that success revolves around him. He has driven himself to become a much improved player since being thrust into the role with the loss of Tony Romo. Recently he was asked just how much improvement he has been able to make in his first off season as the starting Dallas passer.
Prescott: I mean, it's hard to say 100 (percent), but a lot, definitely a lot. We were watching the film from last year and I made a completely wrong MIKE (middle linebacker) identification. Exactly 100 percent wrong — the wrong guy and everything. This year, I know exactly what I’m doing — who's my extra points, my hots and stuff like that.
We do not hear much from Will McClay, but when he does speak, people tend to listen. The man clearly is the subject matter expert on the Dallas Cowboys personnel. That is what makes his comments comparing Jaylon Smith to Dak so revealing.
“When you see him you believe in him. He’s got some of the Dak (Prescott) factor that people believe in him because of who he is, and how he approaches his job … the things that he overcomes and his infectious spirit that he does it with,” McClay said. “He’s overcome that injury with that and he’s going to be a good player because of that no matter what his issues are.”
Having men like the two members of the 2016 draft class on either side of the ball can only bode well for the future, a future which McClay played the center role in engineering.
That is a bold statement from a player who is four practices into his first even NFL training camp, but Chido does have some first hand knowledge of what a championship caliber defense is all about thanks to his time at the University of Colorado.
"I came from a championship defense," he said, "and it feels like I'm stepping right back into one."
During camp we generally look at things through the eyes of sportswriters serving double duty as talent evaluators; with Broaddus we have the reverse situation. The former pro scout turned writer at the mothership gives us a look through the eyes of someone who once made his living in the league as a personnel man.
To whet your appetite just a bit here is one sampling of what BB offers up in his latest edition of Scout’s Notebook:
Two young defensive linemen that caught my eye during practice were Woody Baron and Lenny Jones. Baron has been lining up at defensive tackle and Jones at end. During the one-on-one pass rush drills I liked what I saw from a movement aspect in the way they both attacked blockers. I would say that both have more quickness than power at this point, but they were able to generate some pressure using varying techniques. In other words, they had a plan for how they were going to rush and they were able to execute it with some success.