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Cowboys 2018 training camp practice #4: Recap and updates

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Tyron Smith is important, Chaz Green is injured.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Training Camp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys got through their fourth practice of 2018 training camp. We yearn to deliver the goods here at BTB so here’s what we definitively learned at the team’s practice today: The Cowboys are absolutely desperate to keep Tyron Smith healthy. First, Smith was excused from practice Friday, so he could participate in back-to-back practices on Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday, Smith participated in only half of the first team reps, with Cameron Fleming taking the other reps. It’s obvious the team is doing everything they can to avoid a repeat of what happened in 2017 when the team’s offense ground to a halt without their All World left tackle.

That’s it. Oh wait, and Chaz Green got hurt and couldn’t finish practice for the second time in four days.

Cole Beasley had a good day of practice, repeatedly beating coverage and providing an easy target for whoever was at quarterback. Beasley has looked good throughout camp thus far, for whatever that’s worth. Babe Laufenberg agrees:

Byron Jones had a highlight-reel deflection on a deep sideline pattern, denying Lance Lenoir a potential touchdown catch. Jones’ speed allowed him to catch up after giving up half a step and he displayed perfect technique, turning his head around in plenty of time to adjust and time his jump perfectly.

Chidobie Awuzie was cleanly beaten on a Cole Beasley crossing pattern; Beasley’s move caused Awuzie to literally fall down. But that’s the nature of one-on-ones....for every player generating praise there’s another player causing concern for getting beat. (Also, Beasley seems to be doing that to everyone this year).

I love one-on-ones because....well, they’re one-on-one. And whenever two well-trained, elite athletes go up directly against one another pride and spirit can take over and sometimes things get a little feisty. If you had La’el Collins and Taco Charlton as the first duo to tango and get into a dustup you’re a winner.

Charlton took exception to Collins planting him into the ground and gave the fourth-year tackle a shove which led to another shove which led to big bodied men gathering and pushing and probably saying mean things. Then they lined up and went at it again. Honestly, if you’re there in person and have a good view it can be entertaining.

Other notes from one-on-ones:

  • Blake Jarwin looked slow to me...but very big when going up against Jeff Heath. Jarwin’s sheer size overwhelmed Heath and Jarwin made for an easy target.
  • Anthony Brown, who struggled mightily last season, was abused by Lance Lenoir. Keep in mind, that was only one play.
  • Byron Jones and Lenoir had a spirited competition. Right after Jones made the nice deflection Lenoir beat him on a slant, then drew a holding call on Jones on an out pattern.

More entertaining, of course, are the team drills. Watching the video from these drills, however, is an exercise in frustration. The ball is often on the complete opposite side of the field. You often can’t tell who’s at quarterback it or whether it’s the first-, second- or third-teams facing off. Still, there were a few things that stood out.

Jaylon Smith had some issues. First, he was badly beaten by Allen Hurns on a long crossing pattern where Dak dropped a perfect completion to Hurns. Smith getting matched up with a wideout is probably not the best thing and the results were ugly for Smith.

Later, Blake Jarwin beat Smith cleanly, with Smith getting turned around and allowing Jarwin to get wide open. Here’s two views of it:

Tough day in coverage for Jaylon.

We also had the proverbial Rico Gathers down-the-seam sighting. Danny Phantom wrote yesterday about the uphill climb Gathers faces to make the squad this year and how his blocking and route-running are inferior to the other tight ends on the squad. And in the following clip his route-running looks pretty poor and he doesn’t look particularly athletic getting down the field. And yet, his big target and intuition on how to block out the defender made for an easy pitch and catch completion.

Which led to this, which I found funny:

Recognizing this is training camp and eternal optimism reigns we’ll leave you with this jewel:

Watching Travis Frederick and Zack Martin getting out ahead of a full-speed Ezekiel Elliott has to make Cowboys’ fans drool in anticipation. They should be running this type of play 3 to 4 times per game.