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Cowboys training camp risers and fallers: Byron Jones flying high

Who’s hot and who’s not during the latest training camp action for the Dallas Cowboys.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The first week of training camp has concluded. The Cowboys still have a couple more practices before they head out to Canton, Ohio on Thursday to take on the Arizona Cardinals. The action has been in full swing over the last couple days.

Here is the latest stock report.

Byron Jones

The improvement being seen in the Cowboys secondary is something we should get used to because we are hearing more and more about it. Chidobe Awuzie is tearing it up so far, but there is another young DB that wants to remind everyone that he’s the leader of this pack.

Jones is entering his third year with the team and second at the starting free safety position. His patented pass break ups are still very much alive during camp, but he’s working really hard in trying to come down with some of these passes.

“I did a decent job tackling, did a good job covering, but now I want to start making those big plays and interceptions,” Jones said. “We, as a unit, want to create more turnovers. When the ball is in the air, it’s as much the defense’s ball as the offense’s ball. So when the ball is in the air, it’s our mentality to go get it.”

And on Saturday, he had the play of the day.

And this one on Sunday...

Jones recently spent time with the Frisco Rough Riders baseball team to help work on his eye and hand coordination. It appears to be working. Maybe he can finally put those impressive jumping skills to good use.

Brice Butler

The Cowboys receiver is quietly having one of the best camps thus far. His footwork has been sharp and his route-running ability has been impressive. He has thrown his defenders for a loop with some nice jukes which has created a lot of separation. Butler is beating quality corners like Orlando Scandrick and Anthony Brown.

Many people thought that he and Noah Brown would enter camp in a position battle, but Butler has a choke hold on a roster spot. Brown might still be able to make the team, but it won’t be at Butler’s expense.

Jaylon Smith

The young linebacker continues to impress. His instincts have been off the charts as he reads play after play. But nobody much cares about that part of his game. We knew he was exceptional there and his injury didn’t change that. What is astonishing is his explosiveness. Smith has shown the ability to make cuts and push hard towards the ball. He has been seen in the backfield more and more, chasing down the ball carrier. He even caught the speedy Darren McFadden around the edge as the crowd watched in awe.

Dak Prescott

Year two will be very telling for the Cowboys new franchise quarterback as the kid tries to prove to the world that he is everything fans are hoping for. With defenses having a year of tape to study him, Prescott understands that he’s going to have to mix things up and not become predictable. He recently expressed how he is up to the challenge on NFL Network’s Training Camp Primetime:

"I want them to give me everything, give me the whole offense, ask me to do more, challenge me. I think I do better when they challenge [me], they expect more [of me]. From reads to more, I guess you could say complicated plays or reads or whatever it is, I want them to throw it all at me."

Prescott worked the edges nicely last year and so as defenses attempt to counter, he has been trying to improve him ability to stay in the pocket and throw over the middle. And so far, he looks sharp. His accuracy has been great as he has been threading the needle on several throws. This is a good sign for the young quarterback.

Nolan Carroll

As these next several weeks go by, fans are going to find it harder to hate on former Eagles cornerback Nolan Carroll. He’s better than a lot of people are willing to give him credit for and he finally started showing it. He was matched up against Dez Bryant and kept showing up play after play. Carroll was able to stay with him throughout the route and close in quickly to knock the ball away. These are traits Carroll has had his entire career - quick change of direction, and great closing bursts. If he can just improve his judgment at times, he can prove to be a viable piece to the Cowboys secondary.

Stephen Paea

Prescott’s first interception of the season was courtesy of future stud cornerback Anthony Brown, but he was aided by a little help from the defensive line. Free agent Stephen Paea was able to get around Tyron Smith and get pressure on Prescott, forcing him to adjust his throwing angle. He had been getting off the snap quickly and has been disruptive in practice, even beating Zack Martin one-on-one. That’s no easy task.

The veteran defensive tackle is a Rod Marinelli guy and looks to find a home within the Cowboys interior line. He started camp behind Cedric Thornton on the depth chart as the team’s starting 1-tech DT, however he has been getting some work with the first team defense.

Our own Landon McCool offers up his assessment of Paea (edited for television):

Taco Charlton

When you’re a rookie and your going up against Tyron Smith, it’s going to be hard to show out. And when you’re facing La’el Collins who is doing great at his new tackle spot, it can get a little rough. But credit Charlton for fighting through it. He has had his moments where he has won against Collins and also Chaz Green when he was playing the tackle spot. Here is a play where he beats Emmett Cleary. While Cleary doesn’t have the skill that Smith or Collins have, this demonstrates how Charlton’s long arms can be used to keep the blocker from getting his hands on him.

Charlton is a work in progress, but you have to pleased with his approach. His coach is pleased with what he’s seen so far.

“You can tell he’s a smart guy who is trying to do things the right way,” Garrett told the media Sunday. “I think he has a natural physicalness to him that serves him well playing the position he plays and I think he has the desire to be really good. He listens to coaching and he tries to learn from the experiences he has.”

He’s starting to use more pass rush moves in recent practices which has helped him get around his blockers.

Tyrone Crawford

The veteran DE/DT/DE/who know’s usually doesn’t get a lot of love, but he’s been making some plays over at the left defensive end spot. He’s been getting the better of La’el Collins lately.

Marquez White

Our own Michael Sisemore recently wrote about how sixth-round pick, Marquez White, might end up being another draft steal like Anthony Brown. So far in camp, he looks pretty good. As Bryan Broaddus points out, he had a nice pick.

Marquez White had a heck of an interception that would have gotten the defense off the field if not for an offsides by Charles Tapper. Cooper Rush went deep down the field to Lance Lenoir, who was working one-on-one with White. With perfect technique, White was able to maintain his position all while tracking the ball. He saw that it was going to be a little short and was able to adjust his body position in order to meet it at the high point. Fully extended, White was able to come down with ball.

La’el Collins

The Cowboys new starting right tackle has had a great camp so far. He’s not only locked down the job, but he has people buzzing that a potential fourth offensive linemen could make a run at a Pro Bowl selection this year. But keep in mind, that this is a new position for him as a pro and there will be some growing pains. As Bryan Broaddus pointed out, he wasn’t quite as sharp this weekend.

When Collins misses with his hands inside on the rusher and he catches, he loses all ability to use his power to control his man. There were several snaps where his hands were outside the framework of the rusher and he was struggling to maintain his ability to protect. When rushers get into his body, he tends to get driven back into the quarterback, which was a problem for him during practice.

Sometimes he gets too focused on bullying his man versus using his footwork to maintain his balance.

Injury update

Note: An injury hinders a players ability to be on the field and compete. While it’s not indicative of how a player is performing, it’s still a hiccup that they must get through as they work to get better.

Chaz Green

You may have heard this one before, but Chaz Green is hurt. The third-year linemen was off to a good start at the left guard position, but we’ll have to put all that goodness on ice for now.

This will just open up more opportunities for Jonathan Cooper to get more work at this position.

Jourdan Lewis

Fans can’t wait to see the Cowboys new third-round pick in action, but things keep popping up to obstruct him. After missing the first few days because of his court trial, Lewis now finds himself dealing with a hamstring injury.

Ryan Switzer

He hurt his hamstring after being pulled down from behind, but he seems to be okay. At least that’s what he’s telling us...

“I know my body pretty well,” Switzer said. “Hopefully it is a day-to-day (timetable). I recover pretty fast.”

Damontre Moore

The free agent pass rusher has been projected to everywhere from the starting right defensive end to not making the roster, depending on who you ask and when you ask them. On Friday, it was announced that he would be suspended the first two games of the season for violating the leagues substance abuse policy. While this is a hit for Moore, the silver lining here is that this is not from a new incident since he’s been with the Cowboys. It stems back from a 2016 DUI arrest when he was with the Seattle Seahawks. Moore came to Dallas looking for a fresh start and so far he’s still conducting himself well. He’s still fighting for a place on this team and now it is a foregone conclusion that he’ll miss a little bit of time.

David Irving

He’s dealing with an ankle injury.

Maliek Collins

He is still nursing that hip flexor he suffered a few days ago.

Rico Gathers

The young tight end continues to make mistakes, but it’s how he’s reacting to them that could be his biggest downfall.

Not only did he keep shoving Wilber, but he then threw his helmet to the ground in a huff. That’s not good. Gathers was escorted off the field. He had this to say about the incident:

“That is my way of calming myself down,” Gathers said. “I’m trying to hit none of my teammates, so I take it out my helmet. My coaches don’t agree with that. They sent me in to the locker room for 10 minutes. When I came back to practice I went back to work.”

Wilber must be quite the instigator because a little bit later he got into it with rookie, Noah Brown. They would be put in a locker room timeout as well.

Garrett loves the fighting spirit in his guys, but they need to do a better job keeping some of those emotions in check.

Alfred Morris

Alfred Morris has been doing fine, but Darren McFadden has been doing better. That puts him down a tier in the RB #3 spot. And through no fault of his own, that spot is now in jeopardy.

This isn’t so much a knock on Morris as it is a plus on Rod Smith. Smith has been playing well and holds a huge tiebreaker because of his value on special teams. If Morris cannot create some separation between them, his days could be numbered in Dallas.

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