The Cowboys are eager to see linebacker Jaylon Smith suit up for Saturday's preseason game against the Colts, as we all are.
"I know he is driven. He is focused," [Jerry] Jones said. "If he can come out and contribute and have success, no one deserves it more than him. It's been real hard work and preparation, really overcoming his challenges. Nobody deserves it more than Jaylon. He has put that in and earned the respect of everybody associated with the Cowboys."
So Dak Prescott says he's playing Saturday against the Colts and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones just said Jaylon Smith will play, too.— Mickey Spagnola (@Spags52) August 16, 2017
The NFLPA formally appealed Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension on Tuesday.
Elliott will argue, according to the documents, that his ex-girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson, made multiple threats to "ruin his career." The appeal also will highlight text messages from Thompson that encouraged a friend to lie to police about an alleged domestic assault in July 2016.
Just like when Dez Bryant went down to injury last year, Dak remains positive that the Cowboys can win if Zeke’s suspension holds.
"We have great running backs," Prescott said. "Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris. Those guys have had a lot of success in this league for a long time. It's just an opportunity for them to come in and get more reps in that time off."
Despite what Dak says, there will be fallout for the Cowboys’ attack without Elliott.
Their run game with Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris, I think they will be efficient. I think they'll be able to retain their run-first identity, their core identity which will be significant as far as their ability to keep their offense intact and run what they want to run. But they're not going to be as explosive or as threatening in the run game, and that's going to have some consequences.
Morris has looked quicker in training camp than he did a year ago in his first season with the Cowboys. Morris said that's because he has a better understanding of the offense and he improved his offseason training.
Morris said he switched up his offseason training routine going into training camp.
"I feel like it has been helping me," Morris said. "I changed my diet around, too, and I feel better all around. I feel faster, more explosive. My footwork is a lot better. Just worked on the little things and I think it helped me big time. It definitely helps being more comfortable, so I'm not thinking as much and I get to play faster because I know the offense a lot better than I did coming in last year.
Your daily dose of practice highlights from Cowboys training camp.
Cowboys end compete period with Dak to Zeke TD pic.twitter.com/vSb9pCCz47— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 16, 2017
Not supposed to hurt our own guys. Kavon Frazier with a helmet-to-helmet hit on Rico Gathers ended his day.
Rico Gathers walks off field with a little help after hit from S Kavon Frazier takes him to the ground.— David Moore (@DavidMooreDMN) August 16, 2017
Six of Dak Prescott's 13 completions on Tuesday went to Cowboys' star receiver Dez Bryant.
Prescott completed two out routes, two shallow crossing routes, a stop route and a slant to Bryant. In the individual compete period, Bryant caught a touchdown pass against cornerback Orlando Scandrick and celebrated with a dunk on the goal line.
Bryant, who has been healthy all camp, wasn't ready to say Tuesday was his best practice.
"Nah, I had better," Bryant said.
Even when nearly half of Prescott's completions went to him?
“Hey, when you're number is called, you got to make plays," Bryant said.
Here’s the Morning News’ take on practice.
Not practicing today: Sean Lee, Chidobe Awuzie, Ryan Switzer, Luke McCown, Cedric Thornton, David Irving— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 15, 2017
Here are two of Phillips’ quick hits.
A good sign for the offensive line: All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith practiced for the second straight day after sitting out a few days last week with a tight back. The team has rested select veterans on the third day of a four-day set.
The offense won all nine reps against the defense in the Compete Period, including an outstanding wheel route by running back Ezekiel Elliott for a touchdown against linebacker Damien Wilson.
The positive reviews continue to pour in for Cooper Rush, but it will take more time for him to challenge Moore’s job in the coaches eyes, apparently.
Rush completed half of his passes for 87 yards and a touchdown in the preseason opener against Arizona and ran twice for another 23 yards. He was the only effective quarterback in the Cowboys' loss to the Los Angeles Rams over the weekend, completing 9-of-11 attempts for 104 yards and a touchdown.
Rush isn't in position to challenge Kellen Moore for the backup quarterback job. But he's intrigued the coaching staff with his study techniques, understanding of the offense and performance.
Archer’s Five Wonders. This first doesn’t seem likely, in large part because the rookie cornerbacks haven’t stayed healthy enough to get the reps to supplant him, as Archer himself notes.
Every time I'm asked who will be the Dallas Cowboys' starting cornerbacks, I say Orlando Scandrick and Nolan Carroll. I wonder whether I need to adjust that thinking. Not the Scandrick part -- the Carroll part. He was given a $3 million signing bonus as a free agent in March but has not made many plays so far in training camp. The issue is among the remaining corners: Anthony Brown has been slowed by a hamstring strain; Chidobe Awuzie has missed time with an ankle sprain; and Jourdan Lewis hasn't practiced much because of a hamstring strain. Coaches like to lean on veteran experience over rookies, but Bill Parcells was always leery of "progress-stoppers." Could the Cowboys walk away from Carroll? It's possible. He received a $3 million signing bonus. If they cut him, he would count $1 million against the cap this year and $2 million against it in 2019. Two years ago the Cowboys walked away from linebacker Jasper Brinkley despite a $2 million guarantee so it wouldn't be unprecedented.
ESPN released their first Power Rankings since right after the draft, let’s take a quick look. Obviously Zeke’s looming suspension has dropped the Cowboys, but not as far as one might expect.
The Cowboys drop one spot from their number five ranking following the draft, a drop that obviously is a result of the Elliott suspension. Still, number six is a quality ranking for the ‘Boys. They are behind the two Super Bowl contestants, New England and Atlanta, and it’s hard to argue with that. After that are powerhouses Seattle, Pittsburgh and Green Bay. The Cowboys are definitely right in the mix with those teams.
The biggest unsettled question on the offense is still who will nail down the left guard slot. Phantom gives his take, but it’s more off who isn’t good than an endorsement of Cooper’s play.
Cooper has looked the best so far in preseason out of all these candidates (Chaz hasn’t played yet). He holds his blocks well and there are times where he looks very similar to Leary. After watching all these other linemen play, you start to appreciate the skills of the former seventh-overall pick from 2013. He’s nowhere close to that type of player, but he’s playing well enough to be the final cog in the wheel.
We’ll close with Sham’s reflections on camp so far. Worth reading.
And for the first time in a few years, the defense is really intriguing. There may not be a DeMarcus Ware, but DeMarcus Lawrence looks great. So does Maliek Collins. So did Crawford before his injury, and he’s coming back. There are other additions you’ll like.
This week or next, we are likely to get a look at Jaylon Smith at linebacker. Just come watch him. That’s all there is to say right now. He’s still a fraction of what he was and will probably be, and he is already one of those players you have to watch.
Those nagging injuries mentioned above are going to keep you from seeing all of the changes wrought in the secondary before September. But Oxnard has revealed enough to say that Chido Awuzie and Xavier Woods are going to make the defense better sooner than many folks thought, and we haven’t even gotten a look at Jourdan Lewis yet.