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Cowboys news: Dallas wraps up day two of joint practices versus the Chargers

Plus other news and analysis from around Training Camp.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys vs Los Angeles Chargers Joint Practice Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Practice Points: Houston’s Walk-Off Hail Mary - Dallascowboys.com

The Cowboys have now completed two successful joint practices with the Chargers ahead of their preseason matchup.

IRVINE, Calif. – The Cowboys’ second and final joint practice with the LA Chargers is in the books. Here are all the observations and standouts from Thursday’s work from the Chargers’ training camp site:

Undrafted rookie wide receiver Dennis Houston continues to impress, and his walk-off touchdown catch to end practice was arguably the play of training camp so far. On the final play of team drills Thursday, quarterback Dak Prescott tossed a Hail Mary roughly 50 yards to the end zone, where Houston and wide receiver Simi Fehoko both leaped for it over two Chargers defenders. Houston came down with the catch, prompting a team-wide celebration.

Houston has gotten his share of first-team snap throughout camp, and that rep count increased Thursday with CeeDee Lamb (foot) and Noah Brown (toe) not practicing. Lamb missed both practices against the Chargers, but head coach Mike McCarthy anticipates him returning next week. Brown’s toe injury isn’t expected to be a long-term issue, either.

One day after veteran cornerback Jourdan Lewis suffered a hamstring injury that will likely sideline him for the rest of camp and the preseason, rookie cornerback DaRon Bland more than stepped up in his absence. Bland had his best day of camp, not only breaking up two passes in team drills, but he ended the practice with an interception in the end zone, as the Chargers tried to test him down the field.

The starting offense had difficulty establishing the run at times Thursday, but Prescott did throw two touchdown passes against the Chargers starters: the Hail Mary to Houston and a red-zone TD to tight end Dalton Schultz.

Backup quarterback Will Grier was back in team drills for the first time since straining his groin in practice Aug. 9 and threw a touchdown pass to running back Malik Davis in red-zone work. Full practice is an encouraging sign for Grier’s availability Saturday against the Chargers.

After practice, Prescott spent some time visiting with former Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees, who started his career with the Chargers before winning a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints.

Clarence Hill’s 5 notables from Dallas Cowboys-Chargers Thursday practice - Clarence Hill, Star Telegram

Get caught up on some notable observations from day two versus the Chargers.

The Dallas Cowboys officially ended West Coast training camp practices with their second joint practice with the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday. The Cowboys face the Chargers in their second preseason game on Saturday at SoFi Stadium and will resume training camp on Monday at their headquarters at the Star in Frisco. They have been in California since starting camp in Oxnard on July 26.

The Cowboys concluded their final practice against the Chargers on high notes on both sides of the ball with an interception by rookie cornerback DeRon Bland in the end zone on defense and a Hail Mary touchdown reception by rookie receiver Dennis Houston from quarterback Dak Prescott on offense. “It was a good to end on that note,” Prescott said. “Just being in that situation at end of the game. The guys did a job of protecting, letting me buy some time. I put it up. Glad we came down with it.”

Youth was definitely served out of necessity as the Cowboys were short at cornerback because of a hamstring injury to nickel back Jourdan Lewis. And CeeDee Lamb missed his second practice with a cut foot, leaving Prescott with no receivers on offense who had ever caught a pass in a game from him.

Here are 5 observations from Cowboys-Chargers practice:

BROWN, LAMB INJURIES LEAVE YOUTH AT RECEIVER It was all smiles for the Cowboys at the end of practice when Dennis Houston hauled in the Hail Mary touchdown pass from quarterback Dak Prescott to end practice on a high note.

Noah Brown’s injury puts more pressure on Cowboys’ receiving corps - Clark Dalton, Yard Barker

The Cowboys were already young and thin at the wide receiver position. Let’s hope Noah Brown’s injury isn’t a serious one.

Cowboys wide receiver Noah Brown missed a joint scrimmage against the Los Angeles Chargers with a toe injury on Thursday, Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News reported, putting more pressure on the team’s thin receiving corps.

The Cowboys are already without CeeDee Lamb, who is sidelined with a laceration on his foot. He missed Wednesday’s scrimmage against the Chargers.

Dallas also is missing receivers Michael Gallup and James Washington. Gallup suffered a torn left ACL in Week 17 last season and probably will miss Week 1. Washington suffered a fractured right foot in training camp and is expected to miss six to 10 weeks. Dallas signed the former Pittsburgh Steeler in free agency for depth.

Now, the Cowboys must place more responsibility on young receivers Simi Fehoko, Jalen Tolbert, Dennis Houston and T.J. Vasher. Their inexperience has shown throughout the preseason. In Wednesday’s scrimmage against the Chargers, Dak Prescott threw two interceptions as the passing attack struggled.

In a 17-7 preseason loss against the Denver Broncos, the Cowboys produced 175 yards through the air.

With the opener against Tampa Bay scheduled for Sept. 11, Dallas’ passing game must click. The Cowboys may have to rush the development of their young receivers or seek an experienced option elsewhere.

In the offseason, Dallas traded wideout Amari Cooper to Cleveland.

Relying on young players has left the Cowboys without a swing tackle - Lauren Barash, The Landry Hat

Much like the wide receiver room, the offensive line group still has much to figure out as well.

The Dallas Cowboys front office seems to have an experiment going on this 2022 offseason: let’s see what young, inexperienced players can do instead of signing or trading for veteran talent to fill major positional needs.

We saw what happened with said experiment when they trusted UDFA Jonathan Garibay to be the kicker for this team. The rookie got cut before preseason games even began and now they’re still trying to figure out who their kicker is in mid-August. It’s also happening with the wide receiver group. Instead of bringing in a veteran after losing Michael Gallup and James Washington to injury, Jerry Jones is just letting young receivers fight it out in camp.

It’s true that guys like Dennis Houston, Jalen Tolbert, and Noah Brown shined in camp (without pads and against their own teammates), but those WRs struggled in their first preseason games against backup players.

Perhaps the group in the biggest trouble is the offensive line, specifically the swing tackle position. Even though a swing tackle isn’t usually a star or top player, this position is vital to offensive line success. Teams need a swing tackle who can fill in on either side of the line without causing a disaster on the offensive line.

This position is particularly important for the Cowboys due to the durability of Pro Bowl OT Tyron Smith. The 12th-year player is a phenomenal tackle, but not without his faults. He has missed playing time in the last six seasons in a row.

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