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Cowboys training camp 2018: Week 2 winners and losers

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Who’s heating up and who’s cooling off in Oxnard?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Minicamp Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys had an off day on Friday before gearing up for another set of practices starting Saturday. The team is inching closer to the first preseason game of the year on Thursday against the San Francisco 49ers. With another four practices under their belt, which players stood out this past week? Which ones struggled? Here are the winners and losers from the past week of training camp

WINNERS

Chidobe Awuzie

The second-year corner was all over the field on this week as the offense failed over and over again whenever they challenged him. There would be times where the receiver got out in front of him, but Chido exhibited great closing speed to stay with his man and break up passes. Awuzie has tightened up his coverage and isn’t allowing anything past him. It’s been a swat-fest.

Typically, there has been a lot of give and take when it comes to the battle of the wide receivers versus the defensive backs, with different players each taking turns winning plays. But when it comes to Awuzie, he’s the king of the mountain right now as he’s the clear standout from these players. That’s a good sign too because it’s been a long time since the Cowboys have had a shutdown cornerback.

Terrance Williams

It’s so easy to cast this body-catching receiver aside as all the shiny new guys are out on the field making plays. A foot injury delayed his progress this summer as well as opened the doors for some other guys to show what they can do. And these other guys have taken full advantage. But Williams is back on the field now and he is playing like a guy with something to prove. Since returning to the practice field, Williams has emerged as one of the team’s most consistent receivers.

For Dak Prescott, it’s going to be about building chemistry and Williams already has a rapport with his young quarterback. Williams is showing great concentration and continues to make plays down the field. Every other receiver continues to get better, why not Williams as well? The Cowboys are setting themselves up nicely to have a deep group of reliable pass catches for Dak to work with.

Lance Lenoir

It’s not a secret that second-year undrafted free agent Lance Lenoir has worked really hard this offseason as he attempts to get himself off the practice squad and onto an NFL roster. With a deep group of receivers, it looked all but certain that the road ahead of him would be a tough one. But don’t tell Lenoir that as he is having himself a great camp so far. Not only has he put in the work physically, but he prepares hard and his mental game is sharp.

For him, it’s going to be about consistency, but he’s been able to stack good days on top of each other. And he seems to be doing that.

It certainly doesn’t hurt when he’s out there making catches like this.

Dorance Armstrong

Taking an edge rusher in the fourth round has pretty much typecast Armstrong as a development guy. With so much to learn and so many guys ahead of him, expectations are lowered for what he’ll give the team in 2018. But not so fast. Armstrong is having himself a good camp. At first, people didn’t think much of it as he was winning battles against third-string offensive linemen, but he’s slowly graduating up competition level. After demonstrating he could win against the second-string as well, the coaches gave him a shot to go up against La’el Collins on Thursday and the kid didn’t disappoint. With everyone watching, the youngster started to Collin’s outside, only to bend inside to get the sack.

I’ll never forget how excited the war room was when he was still on the board. I didn’t think much about it and didn’t really know much about him, but the Cowboys certainly did and we’re starting to see what they saw.

LOSERS

Dan Bailey

The veteran kicker had a great start to camp, knocking down all but one kick over the first five practices. On Thursday, he missed two kicks, both of which were inside of 40 yards. Now, this isn’t anything to get too excited about as kickers miss kicks all the time, but these types of misses are uncharacteristic of Bailey.

Bailey is coming off a down year after dealing with a groin injury last season. All eyes will be on the Cowboys kicker as we look to see that he is back to his old form. Early indications looked good, but missing a couple gimmes now has our attention again.

Kony Ealy

The free agent pass rusher is actually doing okay. In fact, you could make a case for him being on the other side of this list after the first series of practices.

Ealy continues to do fine, however, he’s not making a lot of noise in camp. And when you have a flood of edge rushers fighting for a job, you don’t want to be one of the quiet ones. Ealy makes the losers list because of what’s happening around him. The biggest thing is that Randy Gregory is back, which now pencils in another defensive end on the roster. Dorance Armstrong is also shining so far, but his spot was safe because he’s just a rookie and they are going to give him time to develop. The one that might bite Ealy though is the impressive play of Charles Tapper. The third-year defensive end from Oklahoma has been a forgotten man due to season-ending injuries his first two years in the league, but he’s healthy now and he’s playing well.

Ealy was signed to give the Cowboys some depth of the defensive line, but if a bunch of these wild card guys start panning out, his spot on the roster is in jeopardy.

Noah Brown

Similar to the defensive end situation, the wide receiver group has a plethora of candidates fighting for a roster spot. The injury to Cedrick Wilson has eliminated one player from the mix, but there are still several others trying to make the team. Most notably is the strong play of Lance Lenoir (see above). With the team locked with four receivers (Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, and Michael Gallup), that might only leave one remaining spot available. With Lenoir shining and free agent Deonte Thompson making plays, it’s going to be a tough battle for that last wide receiver spot.

Unfortunately, second-year receiver Noah Brown has been held out of practice with a hamstring injury. This makes it hard to plead your case for a roster spot and unless he’s able to get healthy soon, this could hinder his chances to make the team.


Here are the “Star of the Day” tallies so far in camp, courtesy of the Mothership: