Monday marked the third day of Dallas Cowboys training camp and my second out and about in Oxnard, California with ESPN San Antonio.
I’ll be out here for the rest of the week (we leave back on Saturday) and will be posting thoughts and observations from each day. We’re pumping out a lot of things here at BTB that are camp-related for you to enjoy, including episodes of The Ocho on the Blogging The Boys podcast feed.
On the latest episode you’ll hear audio from Jeff Heath and Pro Football Hall of Famer Gil Brandt, Mr. Brandt was excellent and spoke in only the way that he can, as well as two one-on-one interviews. I was able to talk to both Xavier Woods and Dalton Schultz and I think you’ll enjoy what the former had to say about the deep ball in practice.
You can read my thoughts and observations from Day 2 of Cowboys camp right here, and you can also subscribe to the BTB YouTube channel for more of what’s happening in Oxnard. As mentioned, there’s a lot going on.
Make sure to listen to ESPN San Antonio’s The Blitz from 4-7pm CT as well, I’ll be hopping on and off, and on Tuesday you can even hear both Tyron Smith and La’el Collins at the same time. It’ll be great.
With all of that being said let’s get to what happened on Monday, the first padded practice!
The Ezekiel Elliott thing doesn’t feel like one
This was something that I talked about after Sunday, but it bears mentioning again considering the report that Elliott has gone south to Cabo in order to train while he’s holding out from the Cowboys.
I can’t stress enough how not that big of a deal his absence feels around Oxnard. Yes, obviously having Elliott around would change the way the offense looked in 7-on-7s and what not, but it’s not like there’s a cloud orbiting the Oxnard airspace because of this.
It’s universally understood that what’s happening here is business-related, Alfred Morris joining the team and everything. It’s a situation that requires a lot of patience.
Dak Prescott is pretty loved
Monday was Dak Prescott’s 26th birthday and the crowd made him feel quite welcome. Jason Garrett gave him the kudos that you can imagine and the quarterback looked sharp like he has so far in 2019.
Dak Prescott ran out to practice to the crowd singing happy birthday pic.twitter.com/PGQvYB8rAV— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) July 29, 2019
It’s very strange to see Sean Lee in his new role
The General is playing with the second team defense and taking snaps on special teams. I wouldn’t believe it if my own eyes hadn’t seen it for themselves.
This is obviously a great tribute to Lee’s leadership and humility that he’d accept a role like this with the Cowboys, something Jeff Heath touched on in the audio above, but it’s still jarring. We’re talking about a player that the defense was absolutely lost without at times over the years being relegated to special teams of all places. It doesn’t feel natural.
For what it’s worth Lee isn’t just accepting his role but relishing in it. During special teams drills he was working one on one with L.P. Ladouceur going over different techniques while everyone else was practicing punt returns. He’s one of a kind.
Rico Gathers isn’t doing anything special
The hype around Rico Gathers has cooled considerably every year since his arrival and it’s safe to say that it’s the lowest it’s ever been. That happens over time.
Late in practice a ball found Rico squarely in the chest and he managed to not only not catch it, but he bobbled it so aggressively that it popped up in the air before rookie Joe Jackson came down with for an interception. That’s not ideal.
There is still a lot of time to go in training camp and the preseason for Rico to show that he’s worth keeping on the 53-man roster, but Monday was not a good day for him.
Reggie Davis is a name to know
There were a couple of receivers who made some nice plays on Monday, more on one specifically in a second, and it was hard not to notice Reggie Davis. He made what might have been the best play of the afternoon off of a pass from Cooper Rush.
Candidate for play of the day on Monday... Cooper Rush to Reggie Davis pic.twitter.com/yJfAwE4ViZ— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) July 29, 2019
Every time I see Reggie my mind wants to say it’s Tavon because of the number 11, but he’s really making it synonymous with his own game thanks to plays like these. The Cowboys might end up keeping one of these guys when they finalize their roster, Reggie’s trying to make that decision a difficult one.
Jalen Guyton is a guy who always gives 100%
While the play of the day might have belonged to Davis there’s no doubt in my mind that the performance of it belonged to Jalen Guyton.
There was a moment in practice where Guyton dove deep in the endzone and reeled in a beautiful touchdown. At a different point his dive didn’t result in a catch, but neither of those lunges were his last of the day. He’s laying it all out, literally, to try and make this team and that effort is really sticking out.
Mike Weber is hard to completely bring down
It really will be fascinating to see which running backs the Cowboys ultimately carry into the season, especially with the recent inclusion of Alfred Morris, but there is definitely a lot to like about Mike Weber.
It’s not like there is full-on tackling happening at this point, but every time Weber is in the middle of some serious-ish contact he always finds a way to maintain his balance. He’s very good at keeping it no matter how low to the ground he gets. It’s impressive.
The offensive line is still extremely good
At one point in practice there were some one-on-one matchups between the offensive and defensive linemen, but the team crowded around them so it was difficult to grab any photos or videos. Boo.
You could still see inside, though, and the offensive line had themselves a day.
The team is surrounding them, so I had no angle for video. But the OL just dominated the DL in Compete Period. Tyron beat Quinn, Connor Williams beat Daniel Ross and Zack Martin stonewalled Maliek Collins. #cowboyswire— David Helman (@HelmanDC) July 30, 2019
The offensive line looks as good as ever.
Nobody is standing out at backup quarterback
Again, I realize that we’re only a handful of days into training camp, but a part of me expected there to be a frontrunner behind Dak Prescott by this point because of offseason work.
Cooper Rush and Mike White look just the way you remember them. There have been a couple of times through the days that I’ve been here that a White snap has had to be re-called because things got off to a rough start, but other than that there really is no clear difference between the two at this point.
Xavier Woods looks really good
You should listen to my interview with him because I really do think you’ll enjoy it, but also because Xavier Woods talked about how he loves to watch film of various safeties and even mentioned that he loves Earl Thomas specifically (he laughed at how ironic it was).
He was really firm in that this is the best he’s ever felt both physically and mentally, and even though things are just light right now you can see that. He’s a player that has authority now which is something that is great to see for someone that many people have such high hopes for.