One of the best defenses the Cowboys offense sees all year may very well be that of Dan Quinn’s. The Dallas defense emerged as a legitimate force last year, but with a healthy Dak Prescott celebrating his 29th birthday on the field in Oxnard Friday, both sides had their wins in team drills.
Judging touchdowns in camp practices can be subjective, as the pass rush isn’t finishing sacks, but with a clean pocket Prescott hit CeeDee Lamb for a great catch in the end zone. The Cowboys also scored again when Prescott got the ball out of his hands quickly on a fade to T.J. Vasher, who made the best catch we’ve seen through three practices.
This is why people are excited about TJ Vasher. Goodness what a snag. pic.twitter.com/FcRdlMz1MI— David Helman (@davidhelman_) July 29, 2022
When Prescott did have to move around in the pocket, he looked to his running backs or Dalton Schultz, who found a soft spot in the defense with this catch. The Cowboys are asking a lot from Schultz on the franchise tag this season before considering a long-term deal, so getting the connection going with QB1 early is important.
As down-the-roster receivers like Vasher and Noah Brown started to make plays, the newest Cowboys speedster in KaVontae Turpin continued to work on special teams, but also worked in red zone drills and handled a jet sweep as well. Knowing they won’t have Michael Gallup for their season opening rematch with the Bucs, the Cowboys need receivers that can stretch the field, and Turpin has this upside if he continues to show it through the preseason.
Dallas will also need both running backs to be factors in the passing game, which they were in this practice. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard worked on swing passes with Prescott, and Pollard was on the receiving end of a red zone screen pass that resulted in another touchdown.
A redzone screen to Tony Pollard pic.twitter.com/qeoisx7Uil— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) July 29, 2022
The Cowboys preseason begins on August 13th, but the news broke Friday that Dak Prescott isn’t expected to see any action until the team returns home to play the Seahawks on the 26th. Already there are concerns about who will protect both Prescott and his backups, with rookie tackle Matt Waletzko expected to miss “some time” with an injury suffered Thursday. Waletzko is expected to compete with Josh Ball for the swing tackle position.
The competition for the Cowboys offensive line is about to get much harder when padded practices begin and the real pass rush comes, but even without this advantage the secondary has been a bright spot since day one. Trevon Diggs had his first interception of camp, Anthony Brown continues to get his hands on the ball, and Jayron Kearse picked off a Hail Mary attempt from his safety spot. The Cowboys also welcomed further depth at cornerback with the activation of Kentucky UDFA Quande Mosely off the PUP.
Overall, the Cowboys offense still has work to do and will need to continue moving the ball against Quinn’s defense, but Friday was about as balanced of a practice as the team could hope for with no further injuries to report.