Sunday was a special day for Cowboys fans because we could actually watch practice on DallasCowboys.com as it occurred, which was really interesting. We saw the usual 1-on-1 and 7-on-7 drills but also got to see red zone and two-minute drills.
The red zone drills featured the first teams against each other and second teams against each other. It didn’t matter who was in, however, as the offense absolutely dominated, scoring touchdowns on all four “possessions”.
Fans got a treat on the first play when the Cowboys ran a successful reverse to Tavon Austin, followed by a textbook Dak Prescott to Geoff Swaim touchdown pass on Jason Witten’s signature route.
When the 2s faced off the defense got confused leaving Blake Jarwin open for a long gain leading to a short Rod Smith touchdown.
We then saw Ezekiel Elliott run a sweep for 20-yards on a play where Connor Williams dominated Kony Ealy. Ealy’s poor camp continued, as he also lost in 1-on-1s.
The red zone session concluded when Cooper Rush tossed a perfectly placed touchdown pass to Lance Lenoir, who made a highlight reel catch.
The teams then moved to two-minute drills which are fun for fans because the teams play with a clock, downs and a “situation”. First, the starters began at their own 28-yard-line down 24-20 with just over two minutes remaining.
Things didn’t go well for the offense. First they were penalized for illegal motion. Then Prescott tossed an interception when his throw was late to Cole Beasley. Anthony Brown showed great anticipation, intercepting the ball and returning it for a touchdown. It looked like Beasley also could have done a better job going back to the ball.
When the second teams faced off Cooper Rush led a touchdown drive that finished with a brilliant catch by Tavon Austin.
The starters then faced off again and again it didn’t go well for the offense. First, Taco Charlton absolutely abused La’el Collins for what was counted as a sack.
Oh wow. Taco put La’el Collins in the matrix. pic.twitter.com/3HblO42Ux7— Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm) August 6, 2018
This was a reassuring sight because just a few minutes earlier Charlton had limped off the field.
Facing a fourth-and-long, a desperate Prescott pass was deflected by Anthony Brown and intercepted by Jeff Heath; Brown had very solid coverage and Heath showed off his opportunistic ways.
Anthony Brown with the tip and Jeff Heath gets the INT. Brown picked off Dak earlier. pic.twitter.com/47uCltFHiI— Kate Hairopoulos (@khairopoulos) August 6, 2018
Next up were third-stringers featuring a lot of names on the bottom of the depth cahrt. This possession also ended with an interception when Mekale McKay, who was targeted a number of times, couldn’t come up with a ball the deflected into the hands of Kam Kelly.
In four “two-minute” possessions the defense recorded a sack and three turnovers while giving up one touchdown. It was a terrific recovery for the defense after getting beaten during the red zone portion of practice.
Finally, we had tackling, for the second day in a row. This meant we got see a lot of unfamiliar names as the starters while most first- and second-teamers were held out. Running back Trey Williams used this portion of practice to again make plays, showing good vision and toughness on several runs. He should get a lot of time in the second halves of preseason games and it wouldn’t be a surprise for him to become this year’s preseason fan favorite.
- Dan Bailey converted all of his opportunities which is a good sign after missing four kicks over the previous two days.
- There were several Rico Gathers sightings, including a touchdown grab during 7-on-7 drills. Still, his reps are mostly coming with the third team and he appears to be on the bottom of the tight end depth chart.
- Free-agent quarterback Dalton Sturm had a sequence to forget during the tackling segment when he was intercepted, then held the ball too long before fumbling, then had a pass deflected and finally fumbled a snap.
- As noted up top, Lance Lenoir had a terrific touchdown catch and his strong training camp continues.
- Both sides of the ball enjoyed some success, which is what you want to see. It’s not ideal for one unit to consistently beat the other unit because you’re not getting better as a team when that happens.
- The defense displayed impressive ball-hawking skills. Between red zone and two-minute drills they came up with four interceptions and several fumbles.
- Practice was very efficient; there was very little downtime between segments and much was accomplished in a short period of time.
Finally, the fun and games came to an end as the team reached the most serious part of practice: Zack Martin with an opportunity to field a punt. If successful, no wind sprints to finish the day. The video tells the story:
The Russian judges gave ZMart a perfect score on the spike. I love these parts of training camp because it builds camaraderie, there’s something at stake and it’s just fun. Four days until some semi-real action.