If you thought you didn’t get much out of the Blue & White “scrimmages” at the end of the Jason Garrett Era, get a load of the Mike McCarthy-led effort. On Sunday night, fans were treated to.... basically nothing. The three-hour broadcast was missing one small element, actual footage of player’s making plays. To make it harder to track, McCarthy had the team come out in jerseys with no numbers. His explanation:
Head coach Mike McCarthy’s explanation was simple: “competitive advantage and disadvantage.”
“We talked about it this past week and frankly, this is such a unique season on so many fronts,” he said. “I can’t tell you the number of conversations you have about competitive advantage and disadvantage, and frankly with the fact that we were televising the practice here tonight, we would be exposing our younger players to an evaluation process that the other teams really are not exposing their team to. That was the reason behind going with the white and blue shirts this evening.”
There was some news and interesting points to come out of the “scrimmage” so let’s take a look.
Wide receiver Ventell Bryant was injured during the proceedings, but at least he didn’t suffer an ACL tear. It’s still unknown just how long he will be out.
Xavier Woods also came up lame, but it looks like it’s not serious.
The starting safety appeared to injure his groin during the Cowboys Night practice at the stadium. Woods limped straight off the field and to the locker room. He later returned to the sideline in street clothes.
When asked about both Ventell Bryant and Woods, head coach Mike McCarthy didn’t seem overly concerned about either injury.
also fwiw, Xavier Woods has returned to the sideline in sweats and is smiling and such.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) August 31, 2020
don't get the impression from here that it's a super serious injury, but we'll ask McCarthy in a bit.
There were multiple reports of Woods smiling and joking with teammates after he came back from the injury, so the guess is that it’s a minor thing.
As for the action, there were some reports including a successful drive led by Dak Prescott.
Easily the highlight of the night came when Dak Prescott led the offense on a two-minute drill toward the tail end of practice. Prescott guided his group roughly 65 yards in eight plays – all of them completions. He started things off with a short out to CeeDee Lamb, then found tight ends on five consecutive completions. Following that, a short dump off to Ezekiel Elliott put them just inside the red zone. From there, Noah Brown got behind his coverage on a flag route and Prescott found him for the best completion of the night – a touchdown.
Here is the touchdown.
Don’t sleep on Noah Brown. We know he can block, he should be of use on special teams, and now he’s making plays as a receiver. He looks certain to make the team.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy on WR Noah Brown: "I don't think there's been a practice where he hasn't jumped out and made a play." https://t.co/Vs9CywLmFS— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 31, 2020
Also of note on that drive was just how much Prescott used his tight ends.
Well, that was pretty.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) August 31, 2020
Dak guides the offense ~65 yards in, I think, 8 plays. Started with a completion to Lamb. Then completed 5-straight to TEs. Most of them Jarwin. Quick dumpoff to Zeke. Then he finished it off by finding Noah Brown for a nice TD on a 25-yard flag route.
Speaking of tight ends, Dalton Schultz looks like he’s securing his playing time in 2020.
Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz logged 117 offensive snaps last season. He could triple that figure in 2020. Seems to have found his footing over past week of camp. Would expect him to out-snap Blake Bell on offense behind starter Blake Jarwin.— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 31, 2020
For all the Tony Pollard truthers out there, it looks like he’s going to get some real use alongside Ezekiel Elliott this year. The guy has talent, good to see it’s being put to use.
Dak Prescott with a TD pass to Tony Pollard. I think Pollard will be involved a lot more in 2020. He's catching more passes from the backfield and sharing the backfield with Zeke Elliott at times.— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) August 31, 2020
Dak Prescott with a bobbled snap, not sure if it was the center's fault or not, but he hands off to Tony Pollard who darts into the end zone for a TD.— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) August 30, 2020
Even with no jersey numbers or name placards, there is no missing Cowboys RB Tony Pollard. Fluid suddenness to running style. Best route runner in backfield, too. He looks poised to pick up this season where he left off.— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 30, 2020
One other offensive note, Michael Gallup got himself a score on the evening.
some nice red zone work. Dak stepped up in the pocket and fired a bullet past Leighton Vander Esch's ear hole, finding Michael Gallup on the back line of the end zone for a nify toe-tap TD.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) August 30, 2020
There was some defensive action, too. The Cowboys defensive line looks fierce.
As always, it’s tough to chart sacks in a practice where the quarterbacks can’t be touched, but it certainly looked as though the edge rushers were active. DeMarcus Lawrence had a good chance at two sacks, including one on the final snap of the night. Aldon Smith also appeared to sack Prescott on back-to-back reps at one point. Among the young players, Bradlee Anae once again seemed to notch another sack while working against the other youngsters on the offensive line.
Everson Griffen with a sack on Dak Prescott here. Good coverage by the defense.— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) August 30, 2020
Dalton just got sacked by a dude who was not one of the Big 3, and was not Bradlee Anae. Best guess is Joe Jackson or Dorance Armstrong, but I honestly have no idea.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) August 31, 2020
That's such a weird and stupid thing to type.
When Robert Quinn left, there was much consternation about what would happen next. That seems like a long time ago.
Special teams anyone? We had a Greg Zuerlein miss, but it was from 60 yards. He quickly nailed a followup.
Greg Zuerlein had his first miss of training camp, though it was from 60 yards. The Cowboys’ new kicker hit his other five kicks from the usual distances, giving him a mark of 29-of-29. From there, the coaching staff decided to try him from the midfield logo, and he missed just wide right. He got a redo, and he drilled it from the same distance. So officially, Zuerlein is 30-of-31 – a hit rate of 97% — with a long of 60 yards.
There were reports that Cedrick Wilson and Tony Pollard were doing much of the duty on kick returns.
As for punting...
Cowboys are fielding punts. Chris Jones is punting. CeeDee Lamb and Tony Pollard are fielding punts.— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) August 30, 2020
Lamb could be dangerous back there. But what about Chris Jones punting? The Cowboys didn’t bring in any serious competition for him. They feel pretty confident he’s back.
Cowboys punter Chris Jones averaged 41.6 gross yards and 37.0 net yards per attempt in 2019. Both career lows. He just put those numbers to shame at AT&T Stadium, showing far more power in leg. Jones looks healthy after sports hernia, back injury quietly ailed him last year.— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 31, 2020
One final special teams note, and it involves a pet cat.
It would be a bonafide shock if Cowboys rookie LB Francis Bernard doesn’t make 53-man roster. Team signed him in April as undrafted free agent from Utah. Presuming he can demonstrate worth on special teams, spot is his. He’s getting that special-teams work on field now.— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 30, 2020