A day after covering how the Cowboys receivers began finding their stride against a defense that’s had the upper hand in Oxnard, the team went through their last unpadded practice without CeeDee Lamb working in team drills Saturday. The Cowboys newest WR1 is healthy, but received a veteran day before Dallas takes the day off Sunday.
The Cowboys practiced in front of a sold out crowd, and though they didn’t have their star receiver, Ezekiel Elliott was both a part of practice and the headlines thanks to Jerry Jones.
Jones said Elliott still “needs” to be the featured back for the Cowboys, and the focal point for an offense still sorting out who will line up to catch passes from Dak Prescott. The Cowboys practice on Saturday wasn’t as heavy on team drills, but their streak of seeing a new defensive player make a splash continued with Jabril Cox.
Lateral pursuit from Cowboys LB Jabril Cox in Week 5 last season (pre-ACL) compared to today (post-ACL). Like his old self.— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) July 30, 2022
Cox credited director of rehabilitation Britt Brown, head athletic trainer Jim Maurer for progress to reach this point. https://t.co/Bk1710T0Uz pic.twitter.com/CXqJDEKECt
The Cowboys have used Micah Parsons as a pass rusher early and often in practice, putting further pressure on linebackers like Cox to be ready for playing time. Cox’s range and coverage ability have him in line to start alongside Parsons and Leighton Vander Esch. Those players should also benefit from padded practices adding physicality starting next week.
The team also got their best look at the kicking competition so far in camp, with Lirim Hajrullaha taking the early lead against Jonathan Garibay. Kicker is a spot the Cowboys could still be looking for further help, much like they have at wide receiver and defensive end by visiting with Takk McKinley.
So the FG battle started today at Cowboys camp. Lirim Hajrullahu went 7-8, going wide left on a 47 yarder. Texas Tech product Jonathan Garibay went 4-8, missing from 44, 47, 45 and 50.— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) July 30, 2022
Offensive line has been arguably the hardest position to evaluate in unpadded practices, but another unit that’s gone through sweeping changes. With the Cowboys already looking for depth at other trouble spots on the roster, all eyes will be on first-round pick Tyler Smith at left guard as well as Tyron Smith’s usage and Terence Steele’s development at right tackle.
To say the Cowboys defense is the early winner through the first week of camp is a takeaway not unique to Oxnard. Every NFL team should see their defense take over early on, but the difference with Dallas this year is they can expect it to continue. Quinn’s defense has become an integral part of their team identity, and looks to bring the type of competition to their own offense that will force Prescott and his side of the ball to step up.
Jerry Jones: Cowboys defense has speed beyond Micah Parsons. “Now, he’s the quicker, but I’m seeing other quickness out there. …I’m lifted by our ambition, which is to maybe have a defense that does more of the job than we’re expecting from the offense. And I really can see it.”— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) July 31, 2022
With the Cowboys secondary still getting their hands on the ball playing with a defensive line that couldn’t play to full contact, their potential is sky-high as both the pass rush and offensive line battles get going on Monday.