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Cowboys 2018 training camp: Early grades for Cowboys offense through seven practices

A little progress reporting from what we’ve seen at training camp.

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

The Dallas Cowboys have completed only seven practices, five of which were in pads, but it’s never too early to hand out progress reports. Here is an early glimpse at position performances thus far. We’ll incorporate our favorite camp clips from each position.

Quarterbacks: B-

Dak Prescott has tossed a couple of interceptions but that’s to be expected. For the most part, Prescott has looked crisp and you can see that he’s worked with certain receivers a lot through the offseason. Dak has worked on his mechanics and release, he also seems to have improved his timing, too. From what we’ve seen, Prescott has had a few off throws but he’s also had his way with this defense on several occasions.

Best of Dak:

Going deep to Tavon!

On this play, Austin gets tangled up early but his speed makes the play possible. Dak’s throw was still right on the money.

Threading the needle to Gallup!

These two have been a lot of fun to watch but this is great ball placement by Prescott. It’s right along the sideline but out of reach for anyone but Michael Gallup. These are plays that any aspiring great NFL quarterback has to make.

The Backups:

Cooper Rush began camp a little rough around the edges where it just seemed he had some timing issues with receivers. He has since recovered nicely after throwing quite a few in the dirt to start off. Mike White has certainly had a few rookie moments but the arm talent is noticeable. The best compliment about these quarterbacks came from Bryan Broaddus on one of the Mothership’s many podcasts. To paraphrase, Broaddus noted that the flow of practice has been really good because he hasn’t noticed coaches having to stop practice as often as year’s past. He credited the quarterback play as having played a big part in that.

Running Backs: A

With the majority of the focus resting at receiver, the running backs haven’t been talked about all that much. However, as they say, no news is good news. For what it’s worth, this group is second only to the offensive line in terms of consistency. Day in and day out, these guys grind and it’s a compliment to Gary Brown’s coaching style of instilling a lead-dog mentality. Ezekiel Elliott is the obvious lead-dog for the entire offense and he’s been every bit of the guy that is advertised. With that said, the backups have also looked very determined to make the most of their opportunities as well.

There has been a clear objective to get the running backs more involved in the passing offense. We’ve seen Ezekiel Elliott house an 80+ yard screen pass back in his rookie year. Last season, Rod Smith took a dump off right up the middle of the Giants defense for a score. It’s an opportunity to create mismatches and it’s also a good way at getting an offense in rhythm. This Cowboys ground attack has a lot of power behind it and rookie Bo Scarbrough has shown great aggression in his limited opportunities.

Bo masters the trucking stick:

At fullback, Jamize Olawale is touted as more of a playmaker than what they lost in Keith Smith. One area that Olawale has worked to improve is his take-on blocking abilities. So far, he’s racked up wins against Joe Thomas and Leighton Vander Esch. His one-on-ones with rookie Vander Esch have been spirited and entertaining.

Offensive Line: A+

It’s hard to be critical of the best unit on the entire roster. The usual three All-Pro’s have been outstanding per usual. What’s been the most impressive is watching La’el Collins assert his dominance at right tackle. Collins was tested quite a bit in his first season at tackle but he didn’t struggle nearly as much as many first thought he would. Now, in his second season at right tackle, he’s settling in really well. Collins has tremendous strength and agility but his technique has vastly improved.

La’el Collins finishes off Taco Charlton:

Connor Williams has lost the occasional rep or two in compete period but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been impressive. His strength will improve as he learns the ropes of the position though he most definitely has the demeanor for it. Williams has some downright nastiness in his repertoire which is impressive for his lean build. Another aspect to his game is quality lower-body technique with some truly sweet feet. There are reps where he looks beat initially only to regroup and win because recovery comes easy to the rookie.

The backups have had quite a few more struggles to start out. Cameron Fleming has only taken reps at right tackle with Chaz Green running with the two’s on the left side. Up to this point, Green has looked better than Fleming and that’s surprising to write. Joe Looney has done an adequate job at center but Marcus Martin is struggling with his conditioning. It’s a top heavy bunch that keeps the grades high.

Tight End: C+

There’s a feeling out process going on at tight end and it makes plenty of sense. Geoff Swaim is the most consistent of the bunch but he’s also the only guy with marginal experience. If we’re strictly looking at pass catchers, Blake Jarwin has stood out above the rest. Jarwin has won reps against linebackers, safeties, and corners. He has a knack for finding creases and getting himself open.

Jarwin breaks loose:

Rico Gathers will show up on everyone’s Twitter timeline catching most passes but he’s still having struggles. For instance, Rico had a great rep in the red zone versus Leighton Vander Esch but then got beat badly by Jameill Showers a few plays later.

Dalton Schultz brings the grade down a bit, he was a little behind the curve and got embarrassed in compete period when Damien Wilson tossed him on his rear. Schultz is certainly a better blocker than that one rep indicated. As a group, they’ve all struggled early to give consistent efforts as blockers but have shown some decent abilities as pass catchers.

Wide Receivers: B

One thing that stands out most about these wide receivers is how competitive they have been. It’s not only competing with each other for a roster spot but competing for the edge against the defensive backs. The highlights of practice have come from watching these receivers and defensive backs trade punches. Cole Beasley is a typical camp standout with how hard he is to cover but he’s doing much more than we’ve seen in the past. Sanjay Lal clearly trusts Beasley to run a great route down after down:

Beasley sinks into Jourdan Lewis:

No gloves, no problem:

Beasley has been very good but so has Allen Hurns, Lance Lenoir, and Terrance Williams. With the attention to detail of route running, Lal has the freedom to move the receivers all over the formation. The biggest standout at receiver through these seven practices is third-round pick Michael Gallup. He had a rough start to one practice with a few drops but since then, he’s had a couple of practices where it’s felt like the Dak-to-Gallup show. Gallup’s one-on-ones with Byron Jones have been fantastic. Like Beasley, Gallup proven himself quite the technician.

Battle with Byron Part I:

Battle with Byron Part II:

Hard to handle, easy to throw to:

The only negatives have been the injury to sixth-round pick Cedrick Wilson, placing him on IR and Noah Brown’s tightness in his hamstring. This group hasn’t had anything come easy with this secondary but they continue to find ways to win.

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