Before today, the Cowboys have only had two padded practices in Oxnard so far in 2018; this leaves plenty of wrinkles to iron out before we can get a true grip on the potential of the team. The battles between the offense and defense in the first two practices over the weekend seemed to be rather even. That was not the case in Tuesday’s practice.
The Cowboys defense, especially the secondary, completely dominated the offense from the opening whistle. Chidobe Awuzie and company took complete control of the Cowboys offense in 1-on-1’s, 7-on-7’s, and in team period. The secondary practiced so well, that secondary coach, Kris Richard, even decided to join in on the action in some 7-on-7 work.
Kris Richard held up this drill, ran in, and covered Geoff Swaim himself. To say he’s got energy would be the understatement of training camp. pic.twitter.com/9cqHFexkmy— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) August 1, 2018
Chidobe Awuzie and Byron Jones were the two defensive backs that seemed to show up the most in Tuesday’s practice. Whenever one of the Cowboys quarterbacks targeted Awuzie or Jones the ball fell harmlessly to the ground or was deflected by the defensive. Awuzie and Jones are slated to be the teams two starting cornerbacks when the Cowboys take on the Panthers in week one in Charlotte. If these two corners continue to play at today’s level the Cowboys defense will be in for a good year.
Chidobe Awuzie with several PBUs today pic.twitter.com/VNZpAzb8iu— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 1, 2018
As Jon Machota points out here, Awuzie made multiple nice plays on the ball in Tuesday’s practice. It didn’t seem to matter who lined up on the other side of Awuzie, he just kept winning battle after battle. One of Awuzie’s best plays came against Allen Hurns in 1-on-1’s. Awuzie seemed to get beat off the release, but was able to show off some impressive closing speed to force the incompletion.
Here’s another play where Awuzie shows off great closing speed:
This had Cowboys DBs coach Kris Richard yelling "great close" to Chidobe Awuzie: pic.twitter.com/nebhrgAJdQ— Brandon George (@DMN_George) July 31, 2018
The second-year corner out of Colorado is looking to take a big step forward this year as a starter in the secondary. If he continues to progress, he will be a name every NFL fan will be familiar with before we know it.
Chido wasn’t the only corner shining in Tuesday’s practice. Byron Jones also came to play and had himself another really nice day of practice. After playing his first three seasons in the league at safety, Byron has now moved to corner, where many thought he should have been all along. So far the Cowboys have seen nothing but positive results from the fourth-year defensive back out of UConn.
This is by no means a great throw by Dak Prescott, but check out Byron Jones in coverage here against the double move. Jones is able to read the route by Deonte Thompson, and stay in good coverage on Thompson throughout the entire route. You notice how quick Jones’ feet are and how easy it is for him to change directions. Jones also shows off his length and physicality here at the line of scrimmage with a slight jam that throws Deonte Thompson’s timing off just a bit. Jones played this perfectly and forced either a perfect throw, or a contested catch. Dak and Deonte couldn’t connect on either.
Even Anthony Brown and Xavier Woods made some plays in Tuesday’s practice. Brown ended up picking off Dak Prescott on a free play due to an offsides, but the fact that Brown is gaining confidence, and getting his hands on the football, is a great sign for the Cowboys secondary in 2018. From the early looks of training camp practices, the Cowboys secondary looks to be one of the improving units on the team. The ceiling for this group is unlimited due to the talent, youth, and the coaching from Kris Richard.