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Cowboys training camp highlights: Deep D-line rises to the occasion

Highlights from the 7th practice of training camp in Oxnard.

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

5 Observations from camp: DeMarcus Lawrence trusted to build on 2017 - Clarence Hill, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Hill leads with how Lawrence is showing in practice why the Cowboys trust him to build on his breakout season, but also offers a quick look at how the rest of the D-line did yesterday.

Rookie defensive Dorance Armstrong is quietly having a strong camp. Armstrong, a fourth-round pick from Kansas, took advantage of the absences of DeMarcus Lawrence, Taco Charlton and Charles Tapper to get extra reps. He got put in the spotlight with a matchup against right tackle La’el Collins in the compete drill and built on his strong start to camp with a win in front of the team.

Guard Zack Martin handled defensive tackle Jihad Ward in the compete and defensive tackle Datone Jones got a push against center Travis Frederick. Jones won the first rep but coach Jason Garrett called a do-over and Frederick won the second time.

Star of the Day: Armstrong doesn’t look like a rookie; Dak Shines - Staff,
Spagnola hands out a long overdue star, and Helman has some love for a rookie:

Mickey Spagnola: ‘Bout time we hand out some love to the quarterback. If you’ve been following the scores from home, the wide receivers have received nine nominations going into Thursday’s practice. Well, someone has to be throwing them the ball, and the majority of those have come from Dak Prescott. These last two days he’s been spot on, hooking up with this bunch of receivers, the majority new, all over the field. Been really good, too, throwing on the run, as he did a couple of times in Thursday’s practice.

David Helman: I think Dorance Armstrong has been playing well to this point in camp, but I couldn’t say for sure. I don’t have access to the tape and it’s hard to judge defensive linemen during live action. I didn’t have to guess at what I saw Thursday. Jason Garrett called the rookie in front of the entire team to go against a four-year veteran in La’el Collins. Armstrong didn’t look like a rookie, as he set Collins up to his outside shoulder, then dipped inside for a sack. It was impressive to see him deliver with everyone watching.

Day 8 Camp Report: Cowboys 90-man roster review, position by position - Shawn Kairschner, Cowboyswire
Rabblerousr concludes his daily camp reports with an "all-too-early" look at what the Cowboys 53-man roster could look like. And given our focus on the D-line in today's camp highlights, here's rabble's projection for the D-line:

Roster Locks: DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Taco Charlton, Randy Gregory, Dorance Armstrong, David Irving*, Maliek Collins, Brian Price, Jihad Ward

On the Bubble: Charles Tapper, Kony Ealy, Datone Jones

Analysis: The expected roster locks are joined by newcomers Armstrong, Price and Ward—each of whom has consistently played well in camp against the best linemen the league has to offer. The depth at the position means that Tapper, who has been nothing short of sensational, as well as Ealy and Jones, both of whom have acquitted themselves very well, is in danger of failing to secure a roster spot. Given their performances thus far, it would be a damn shame were the Turk to pay a visit to Tapper or Jones.

Practice Recap: Kavon Returns, Bailey Misses; More - Staff,
Kavon Frazier returned to the field, and Bailey missed two kicks, but the most interesting part here is how the offensive and defensive lines got after each other during Thursday's afternoon practice.

The Cowboys’ offensive line draws tons of praise, and rightfully so. But in the second Compete Period of the day, their defensive counterparts rose to the occasion. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett highlighted line matchups in the period, as he paired off matchups of Travis Frederick and Datone Jones, Zack Martin and Jihad Ward as well as La’el Collins and Dorance Armstrong.

Credit where it’s due: Martin handled his challenge with the skill you’d expect to see from an All-Pro. But Datone Jones gave Frederick fits, beating him in their first matchup and then pushing him in the rematch. Armstrong was particularly impressive, as he got the better of Collins for a sack.

Cowboys DC Rod Marinelli thinks this is the deepest D-line he's had in Dallas - Staff, SportsDay
Marinelli joined KTCK-AM recently to talk all things Dallas Cowboys and spoke glowingly about the 2018 D-line.

Q: Do you think this is the deepest, most talented defensive line the Cowboys have had since you've been here?

Marinelli: "Yeah, I do. There's no question. We're deep and we've added some guys from other teams that are not really old. Two or three years out. I think we have a good chance -- I just like the tempo, I like the character. I say it all the time -- it's still a blue-collar game. You can bring people in that want to get after it in terms of the things you want to do. You can go a long way."

Defense owns the day - Todd Archer via Facebook
Archer’s camp observations from the fifth padded practice include a detailed look at Dak Prescott.

Some might be worried about the Cowboys offense at this point, but it is early and they have had moments, but the defense has been off to a good start.

On to the observations:

** Prescott completed 11 of 18 passes in team and seven on seven drills. He started out by hitting his first eight throws. He made some plays outside the pocket, eluding a pass rusher to find TE Blake Jarwin across the field for a decent gain. In seven on seven work, he scrambled to the right to find WR Terrance Williams along the back line of the end zone. Scramble plays in seven on seven work is nearly impossible for the defense because there is no pass rush. For camp, Prescott is 51 of 75 [68.0%] in 11 on 11 and seven on seven work.

** With Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson not practicing, rookie WR Michael Gallup took the turns with the first team offense. He was able to get inside Jones for a tight catch on a slant on the first play of the blitz period.

Cowboys practice report: O-line depth? – Calvin Watkins, The Athletic
Part of Watkins' camp summary is about the O-line.

The Cowboys’ offensive line is strong, maybe the best in the NFL. The second- and third-teams don’t have anywhere near the same talent level, but the team’s depth is much improved from where it was last season. Center Joe Looney, despite a high snap Thursday, has performed well in camp, likewise for tackle Cameron Fleming. When Tyron Smith gets a day off, which was the case Thursday, Fleming becomes the first-team left tackle. Fleming is a physical lineman not afraid to mix things up, which is something the Cowboys want from their backups.

“I think they’re doing fine,” Garrett said of the backup linemen. “We have a lot of different guys working with that second group. Sometimes you’ll see those No. 2s in with the 1s. One of the exciting parts of this time of camp is you get to see a lot of guys. We really try to be disciplined in making sure the twos and threes get a lot of work, and you see a lot of different combinations. It’s exciting to see those guys get better.

Former tackle Willie Anderson is helping line coach Paul Alexander teach the technique with the Cowboys. Thursday afternoon, Anderson tweeted a practice video of how Tyron Smith used the technique to hold off a charging Tyrone Crawford on the pass rush.

Observations from Oxnard - Staff, SportsDay
SportsDay's practice recap offers videos, some thoughts from the staff writers, and some quotes from coaches and athletes. Some highlights:

Jason Garret on LB Joe Thomas tackling Zeke during red zone work yesterday: We probably all had the same reaction: Don't tackle him!

Kavon Frazier on how he must manage the blood disorder/deficiency that kept him out of camp until today: “Mainly, I’ve got to eat more vegetables. I’ve got to take a couple of vitamins a day. That’s about it.”

Cowboys 2018 training camp: Practice #7 recap with photos and videos - Michael Sisemore, Blogging The Boys
Sisemore collected 52 (!!!) video clips from yesterday's practice. It's almost like a video play-by-play of what went on at camp yesterday.

Mailbag: Surprise Players In Camp So Far? - Bryan Broaddus & Rob Phillips,
Broaddus and Phillips with a mini-summary of training camp so far.

Question: Who in practices so far have surprised you so far with how they have played, good and bad?

Bryan: I did not give Deonte Thompson enough credit as a receiver. I think he’s been outstanding. I am surprised that Kony Ealy hasn’t shown up better. These first few practices have not been as productive and has made me think here initially that he’ll have trouble making the squad.

Rob: I thought Byron Jones could play corner, but I didn’t think he’d be arguably the best defender in camp this early. Rookie quarterback Mike White has had flashes, but there have been times where it looks like he’s processing things too much. Maybe things slow down as we go here.

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