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Cowboys practice recap: Plan emerges at safety; Randy Gregory and Rico Gathers with first-team reps; more

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The Cowboys practiced in shells only, but we’ve got some highlights anyway.

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys Facility Tour Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Practice Recap: Byron Jones Not Part Of Safety Plan - Rob Phillips, DallasCowboys.com
Phillips kicks off his practice summary by noting that despite adjustments being made at safety, Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie are staying right where they've been all camp, at cornerback. Other practice highlights were mostly about who was not at practice:

With Pro Bowl linemen Zack Martin (knee) and Travis Frederick (shoulder) not practicing, Kadeem Edwards and Joe Looney took first-team reps at right guard and center, respectively.

The Cowboys acknowledge they’re thin at safety right now, but they’re also light on numbers at receiver for the moment. Tavon Austin (hamstring), Deonte Thompson (Achilles tightness), Noah Brown (hamstring) and Cole Beasley (groin) did not practice. Garrett said he anticipates Beasley and Austin returning at some point this week.

Also sitting out practice were first-round Leighton Vander Esch (groin), who did not play against Cincinnati, and defensive tackle Datone Jones, who hurt his knee in the game. Garrett said Jones likely won’t be able to practice in the near future. The Cowboys signed defensive tackle Caraun Reid with an open roster spot Monday.

53-man roster projection: Do Cowboys keep 3 QBs? Does Rico Gathers make final cut? - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Jon Machota offers his post-Bengals projection, which includes nine offensive linemen and a yet-to-be-named free agent at safety.

Before the Marcus Martin injury, I was convinced the Cowboys could get by with only eight. That's no longer the case. They'll go with nine, and I think the final spot goes to a player currently not on the roster.

Most figured the Cowboys would add a safety at some point during the draft, either picking one or trading for All-Pro Earl Thomas. Neither has happened, so there's a wide open roster spot available. Dallas could still fill it by getting a deal done with Seattle for Thomas or by signing a veteran free agent.

The Cowboys still aren't ready to add Earl Thomas. Here's what their plan at safety is. - Brandon George, SportsDay
Newly signed safety Dominik Sanders (undrafted in 2018 out of Georgia) took part in his first practice yesterday, leading George to ponder the situation at safety, which includes the Cowboys moving back to more differentiated free safety and strong safety roles.

The Cowboys aren't panicking. Richard said Monday he's been pleased with starting cornerbacks Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie and the Cowboys have no plans to move either to safety. Jones started the last two years at safety before moving back to cornerback in the offseason.

Part of the reason the Cowboys haven't pushed to add a veteran safety is because they've been pleased with the way Woods has played and believe the sixth-round pick could make a big jump in his second season.

Richard said he wants players who can play both free and strong safety. Heath said the two positions are pretty much interchangeable, although that changed slightly this year with Richard in charge.

"Last year, we were truly interchangeable. We didn't really have a strong safety and a free safety," Heath said. "We almost just played left and right. It's a little more position specific in this defense this year, but I'm comfortable doing both. You just have to switch your thinking up a little bit."

"We run with what we brung," Richard said. "The guys who are healthy and available they are going to go out and do what we ask."

Randy Gregory getting work with Cowboys’ first-team defense – Calvin Watkins, The Athletic
Watkins saw a “new world order” for the first-team defense where others might have just seen a slightly modified depth chart.

Randy Gregory, fresh off his first preseason game Saturday night against the Bengals, received some first-team snaps in practice. Gregory’s time at right defensive end moved Tyrone Crawford to defensive tackle with Antwaun Woods. With Gregory moving to the first team, Dorance Armstrong remained on the second team, followed by Taco Charlton

Cowboys 2018 training camp: Rico Gathers got a first-team rep in today’s practice - Michael Sisemore, Blogging The Boys
Sisemore's social media recap is always a treat, and his latest is heavy on Rico Gathers.

Photos: Cowboys have first training camp practice at The Star in Frisco - Staff, SportsDay
Sportsday has a nice gallery with pictures from yesterday's practice for your visual delectation.


VIDEO: Dallas Cowboys vs Bengals Preseason 2018 Offense - Blackthorn Review, YouTube
We're a bit short on actual training camp content today, so here a video from the Bengals game to make up for that.

The Dallas Cowboys offense 1st string looked impressive against the Cincinnati Bengals. The O-line was amazing. Tyron Smith and Conner Williams looked like a wreaking ball for Rod Smith by opening lanes that a car could drive through. Dak Prescott displayed his great leadership.