The Jaylon Smith pick looks to be close to paying off for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys were criticized for taking a risk and using a second-round pick last year on a player some thought would never play again. Early on in this year's training camp, Smith is turning heads with his explosiveness and speed.
Not only has he unexpectedly participated in four of the six practices in pads as the second-team's middle linebacker, Smith's workload has increased.
The Cowboys don't usually tackle to the ground during practice. But Smith took part in goal line drills Tuesday, marking the first time he was knocked to the ground during a full contact practice period since college.
"It's amazing how good he looks," Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee said. "To be able to show that acceleration already it's been incredible. He's making it look seamless. He is the complete package and it's a matter of time before he's dominating."
Smith has participated in four of the Cowboys' six practices for far during training camp after missing his rookie year with a knee injury. The brace referred to here is a knee brace, not the foot brace he continues to use.
"You're seeing the progression and there's no question he's getting better every time he goes out," Jones said.
Jones said Smith is "doing a lot of things out here without the brace at all." He has worn the knee brace in the padded practices. He was not in the brace Monday but he ran without any issues.
"I've been able to do a lot of things without the brace and that'll continue," Smith said.
Here are all your highlights from the morning practice at Cowboys’ training camp in Oxnard. Lots of good stuff.
Close look at Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith's Richie brace he wears to support his drop foot: pic.twitter.com/254tumcmzZ— Brandon George (@DMN_George) August 1, 2017
Barnwell is always worth reading, even if you disagree. He tries to make a case for the Cowboys as the fifth most likely to decline. Is it valid?
Even if the Cowboys do decline, their margin for error is higher than everyone else's on this list. Even if their record was a little inflated, their 10.9-win Pythagorean Expectation suggests they were the third-best team in the league last season, behind the Patriots and Atlanta Falcons. DVOA has them just ahead of the Falcons and behind the Pats in second.
The Cowboys could regress toward the mean and still be favored to come away with a playoff spot, if not the NFC East. Barring a serious injury to Prescott, they'll be a good team in 2017.
Will McClay, senior director of college and pro personnel for the Dallas Cowboys, gave his take on several players. Well worth a read. Here’s his take on Taco Charlton.
"He's got the stuff, and he's gonna go in the shed with [defensive coordinator Rod] Marinelli and it's gonna be beat down and tore down and he's gonna figure it out and he's gonna be an impactful player for us. He's got size, he's got speed, everything we look for. You know, they still run the ball in the NFL. Everybody's talking about a 'war daddy.' Until we find a 'war daddy,' we're gonna do it collectively, and he's gonna add something to it. Sack guys in the NFL, they play off of other people, and I think we have eight guys that can play the game the right way and can add things to us. Each guy's gonna be better. We were -- I can't remember what the position was within the league last year in terms of sacks -- we didn't have a 'war daddy,' we had a bunch of guys that did their job. He's another guy that needs to do his job."
Broaddus gives his take on the defensive line battles at this point.
Cedric Thornton has been the starter at nose while Paea has been working as the under-tackle since Collins has been out. I finally thought that Thornton had the type of practice he is capable of on Monday. He was active and disruptive, which are two traits he last showed with any consistency while he was still with the Eagles. There was more of a surge to his game and there were snaps where he was actually playing on the other side of the line of scrimmage instead of his side of the ball. These are the types of practices they need from him to carry over to the games.
Helman gives his take on practice.
The goal line period featured eight total reps, with the offense claiming six wins. The first-team offense and defense went at it four times, with the offense winning three times. The second-team offense and defense saw the same results. Ezekiel Elliott sat out of the live tackling, so Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris each scored rushing touchdowns in his place. But the real star of the show was Rod Smith – who the coaches plugged into the lineup for three rushing touchdowns on the day.
The Cowboys worked on short-yardage and goal-line plays during Tuesday's training camp practice, and it got a little chippy.
"You compete for everything every day and we had some situations in short yardage and goal line where the offense got after the defense," Garrett said. "And the defense has to respond to those situations. Those are big situations in a football game. You don't have a lot of goal-line situations throughout the year, but when you have them, they're big. They're critical to the outcome of the game. We'll work on that. The offense won both of those drills pretty handily, but the defense did a really good job at the end of practice and came back in the two-minute situations and essentially won each of those three drives. The biggest thing you have to do is put what is behind you and leave it behind you and focus on what the task is. I thought our defense did a good job of that today."
Cowboys All-Pro tackle Tyron Smith missed his second straight day of practice, but the team hopes he'll be OK after a couple days off.
Smith missed two games last season with a back injury. He did not undergo offseason surgery as the Cowboys hoped rest would take care of the issue.
“I don’t know that it’s necessarily related,” Garrett said. “His back was bothering him a little bit, it was tight, so we’ll just take it day by day and we’ll see how he responds.”
Sturm projects the Cowboys’ 53-man roster. Well worth reading.
Once you know this team generally goes 25 offense, 25 defense and three specialists, you can start to jot on your legal pad the list of players who "have no chance of not making the final 53 barring a massive injury," players "who are legitimately on the bubble," and, finally, players "who have almost no chance of making the team." That final category is harshly named, but the truth is sometimes harsh, and I believe it is OK to write frankly in this space about what we know to be true.
Don’t expect Cowboys’ starters to suit up this week, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a lot of interest.
All you need to do is look at Garrett's history as head coach. Other than an isolated case here or there, he doesn't play his starters in the opener, and that's when the team has only four preseason games.
He's sure not going to do it when he's given a bonus game.
George answers several questions. Here’s the last one.
Question: Do you see the offensive line regressing this year after the guys they lost in the offseason and now Chaz Green is hurt?
Brandon George: I don't expect a big dropoff from the offensive line despite losing right tackle Doug Free (retired) and offensive guard Ron Leary (signed as free agent with Denver). La'el Collins has looked good at right tackle so far, especially in 1-on-1 drills, and he should be just fine out there. Jonathan Cooper has been running first-team left guard and has been very solid. He was already ahead of Chaz Green.
After serving as a backup to Tony Romo, Kellen Moore is in the same role behind Dak Prescott.
“Kellen’s just handled everything really, really well,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He was having a really good camp last year up to the point when he got hurt. He just responded the right way. He did an excellent job with his rehab. He was around our team and a big part of our team last year. He was in all the meetings and was around at practice helping the guys. Just was a strong contributor to our team.
“He got healthier and healthier as the year went on. He had a really good off-season with us and has practiced well up to this point in training camp. He has responded really well to that situation and he’s playing very good football right now.”
With the Cowboys adding Luke McCown, Moore is going to have to keep fighting for that backup QB job.
The only regular-season game time of Moore's career came with the Cowboys at the end of the 2015 season, with Moore playing in three games and starting two. But he knows all about taking advantage of the preseason. He's played in 16 preseason games as he enters his sixth season.
"He's not thinking about it's the anniversary of anything," Linehan said. "He's back out here, he's healthy, playing and doing well, working chemistry with the group he's with. ...I'm sure he's pretty excited to get back out there."
The Cowboys face a fine from the NFL under the league’s remittance policy.
The Cowboys face a fine from the NFL under the league’s remittance policy. Damontre Moore’s suspension, which was announced last week, gives the Cowboys three suspensions since the league year began.
Cowlishaw apparently assumes some kind of suspension is coming for Zeke. But another way to look at it is that the NFL hasn’t pre-determined the outcome, and is just interminably slow at these things.
As one of many subscribers to the theory that the NFL simply won't let an Ezekiel Elliott suspension rain on Jerry Jones' parade to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend, one thing must be made clear.
The NFL isn't holding off on an Elliott announcement for Jones' benefit. The NFL is holding off for the NFL's benefit.