Starting with training camp, the biggest news of the day was Tyrone Crawford’s ankle injury, which may not have been as serious as first feared.
The Cowboys may have dodged a bullet.
Confirming earlier reports, early diagnosis of Tyrone Crawford's injury is a lateral right ankle sprain; no fracture.— Rob Phillips (@robphillips3) August 9, 2017
Check out all the highlights from the Cowboys tenth training camp practice. Chaz Green and Ryan Switzer are back.
Chaz Green is full participant in O-line drills— One Cool Customer (@OCC44) August 8, 2017
The news wasn’t all about Crawford.
Maliek Collins – It was immediately obvious that Collins was back at practice, as he was his usual disruptive self on several occasions. What stood out the most was Collins’ work in one-on-one pass rush drills. Going against Zack Martin, he gave the All-Pro guard everything he could handle on multiple occasions. There aren’t many defensive tackles who have the power to push Martin off the line, but Collins can do it.
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott picked up right where he left off in practice this week.
Prescott completed 13 of 16 passes in team and 7-on-7 work Monday. He nearly had a pass intercepted by Byron Jones in 7-on-7, one incompletion that could have been ruled a drop and the final one came when Cole Beasley slipped.
His best throw, however, came in team drills. Under pressure up the middle, Prescott slid to his left and perfectly floated a pass to tight end Jason Witten, who slipped away from Sean Lee for nice gain.
In seven padded practices, Prescott has completed 80 of 112 passes (71.4 percent) with three interceptions in team and 7-on-7 drills.
Who are the core special teamers?
How to get a leg up for your roster projections
The surest way to find out which players may have a firmer grip on a 53-man roster spot is to look at the first-team special teams units. Here's how the first-team kick return unit lined up today:
Jeff Heath - Damien Wilson - James Hanna - Kavon Frazier - Chidobe Awuzie
Mark Nzeocha - Geoff Swaim - Kyle Wilber
Keith Smith - Rod Smith
Later today, OCC will provide an update on what the kickoff unit looked like yesterday.
Some quick hits from Monday’s practice.
DeMarcus Lawrence – The pass-rusher had a good day against Tyron Smith, who returned to practice after missing two last week with a neck and back injury. Lawrence had some success off the edge in team drills, with one play avoiding Smith and his hands with an inside rush. While Smith might have been somewhat rusty, it still was a good move for Lawrence, who is expected to be one of the team’s best rushers in 2017.
Broaddus’s observations of camp practice.
Byron Jones continues to develop as one of the better cover men on this defense, regardless of position. Jones had a golden opportunity to pick off Dak Prescott during the 7-on-7 period while in coverage on Jason Witten. Prescott tried to fit the ball in to Witten on an out route in the flat, but he was a bit late in his decision to do so. Jones, reading the route the entire way, was able to undercut Witten’s route to get both hands on the ball. Jones, who has worked on his ball skills all offseason, just wasn’t able to bring the ball in to secure the interception and take it untouched for a score.
Speaking of Byron Jones, he’s out shagging fly balls to improve his tracking skills so he can find those interceptions that have eluded him so far.
One day before training camp began, Jones shagged balls with the Texas Rangers' Double-A affiliate during batting practice. He had played at Dr Pepper Ballpark in Dirk Nowitzki's celebrity baseball game, and wondered if he could turn the skill needed to catch fly balls into help on the football field.
"His motor was running a thousand miles an hour," Mikulik said. "He was flying all over. It's a little different. I tell our guys, ‘You can't outrun a baseball,' but Byron, he's fast. I think part of the deal was working his hand-eye coordination."
For two batting practice sessions, Jones ran with the RoughRiders, chasing down fly balls, line drives and ground balls. He stopped playing baseball when he was about 12, Jones didn't look awkward at all, Mikulik said .
"If you can track a baseball down, should be easy to track a football down," Jones said.
The Cowboys’ safety who has had the most success, per snap, with interceptions, is Jeff Heath.
Heath allows Jones to play closer to the line of scrimmage and trust Heath to do things they could not trust Church or Wilcox to ever do, and that is to play safety as it was meant to be played -- safely. They drop Heath in center field and ask him to read coverages, address the deepest threats, and then clean up other people's messes and keep big plays from becoming huge plays. Take good angles and for crying out loud, if the QB throws you something, pick it off.
How does the roster look now? Here’s Machota’s take. Right now, he’s only got 23 on offense, 27 on defense. That’s likely at least one off from where the team will end up.
"We still got four games left and a lot of football to be played," the team's executive vice president said. "There's a lot of time for guys to get better. This isn't the time to be cutting the team or making any decisions on who is going to win a job or who is going to win a roster spot or who is going to be on the practice squad. I still think there's a lot of work to be done. I would say, in general, we're pleased with our roster.
This 26-man roster includes at least three compelling Hall of Fame cases, plenty of Cowboys and Patriots (welcome, Vince!) and even one repeat appearance. There are three former Cowboys, including one not named in the headline.
[Doug] Free was underrated along the Cowboys' vaunted offensive line, rarely missing a game in seven-plus seasons as a full-time starter. Free is one of three former Cowboys on this list. The offensive line has at least 10 capable retirees, but Free deserves one of five spots. Gosder Cherilus backs him up.
With the NFL still mum on any decision on discipline for Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas VP Stephen Jones says league could improve how it goes about its investigations.
"These things are tough for everybody. It's tough for the league. It's tough for the team. It's tough for the player," he said. "At some point, you should be able to get the information in some sort of time frame that ... doesn't carry on like this particular investigation has."
The Cowboys and Zack Martin are talking about a long-term extension, but neither side is putting a deadline on the other at the moment.
"I'm never going to put a deadline on something like that," Jones said. "Sometimes players don't like to think about it a lot, but then you're able to work behind the scenes sometimes and still get it to where they're comfortable. But obviously we're going to respect Zack and how he wants the mechanics of the process to work and we'll work within those. I fully suspect we'll work something out at some point in time and he’ll be a Dallas Cowboy for most of his career, in my mind."
Could the Cowboys be showcasing running back Alfred Morris in preseason games for a potential trade down the road? One of Archer’s Five Wonders.
In the spring, Rod Smith was the third tailback option behind Ezekiel Elliott and Darren McFadden. For most of training camp, he was the third option as well. So why did Alfred Morris take over for McFadden after a couple of series in the Hall of Fame Game? I wonder if the Cowboys are showcasing Morris for a potential trade down the road. Morris ran hard and ran well. He hit the hole and made good, quick decisions. Morris can be a starting back in the NFL. With the Cowboys, however, he is limited behind Elliott and McFadden. (No, I don’t wonder if he could beat out McFadden for the No. 2 job.) He doesn’t play many special teams. He is not the best in passing situations. But he can run the ball well. He is a back who is better in carries 12-15 than 1-5. If Elliott does not get suspended, then Morris might go on the block.
What does history say about Ezekiel Elliott’s second season?
[W]e’ll look at what history says about rookie running backs who had phenomenal first seasons, and what happens to them the next year. Fortunately, we don’t have to do the legwork, since this article at CBS Sports already has the data. They charted the 10 best rookie seasons by running backs (besides Zeke) and how they did the following year. Interestingly, out of those 10, seven of them had worse years in season two. The reasons for the decline basically fall into five categories. Let’s see if they might apply to Zeke.
The Dallas Cowboys have high hopes for the 2017 NFL season. Here's how America's Team can live up to the hype and win Super Bowl 52. He offers six items.
On top of getting a little luck along the way, a lot will have to happen for Dallas to have a legitimate chance at taking home the Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl 52 champions next February. Here’s our take on what must occur for the Cowboys to win their sixth Super Bowl title in 2017.