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Cowboys training camp #5 battle of the day: Kicking competition ratchets up

And a few other battles from the first day of padded practices

NFL: JUN 02 Dallas Cowboys OTA Offseason Workouts Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Monday marked the beginning of padded practices for the Cowboys’ training camp, which always brings with it an uptick in intensity. Head coach Mike McCarthy gave the team a day off Sunday, which meant players were even more energized for Monday’s work.

It’s still very early on, but getting the pads on means we can get a better idea of how individuals are performing in camp. Monday’s practice was noticeably faster and more competitive than the previous week’s. Here are some of the most prominent battles from the day.

Honorable Mentions

Dak Prescott vs Trevon Diggs

By all accounts, the Cowboys’ best players have all been looking sharp to this point in training camp. That includes both Dak Prescott, who finished Monday’s practice hitting on 17 of his 23 passes, and Trevon Diggs, who’s already recorded an interception in camp.

Friendly competition between Prescott and Diggs only promises to make each player better. They’re each a top player on their respective side of the ball, and Dallas will need both to play like they did this past season if 2022 is going to be successful.

James Washington vs durability

James Washington was the Cowboys’ only real free agency signing at wide receiver this offseason, but he saw little work in OTA’s as he was dealing with a minor injury. Then, on the first day of training camp, Washington came up a bit hobbled after laying out for a catch. Washington survived that scare, but not yesterday’s. He will miss significant time.

This an unfortunate turn of events for Washington - who was looking to secure a starting role in Dallas after fluctuating playing time in Pittsburgh - and it also hurts a Cowboys’ receiving corps that was already in flux after losing two reliable veterans this offseason.

Jalen Tolbert vs KaVontae Turpin

Rookie receiver Jalen Tolbert is widely expected to feature as one of the Cowboys’ starting wideouts this year, but he’s also been getting some looks early on as a punt returner. So, too, has recent addition KaVontae Turpin, fresh off being named league MVP of the recently-concluded USFL season.

Last year, punt return duties were split between CeeDee Lamb and Cedrick Wilson. With Lamb stepping into an even more prominent role and Wilson now in Miami, someone will have to step up for John Fassel. On Monday, it appeared to be a battle between Tolbert and Turpin for those duties.

Camp Battle of the Day: Jonathan Garibay vs Lirim Hajrullahu

After moving on from Greg Zuerlein this offseason, the Cowboys are holding a competition between Lirim Hajrullahu and rookie Jonathan Garibay. Initially, most spectators believed this was Garibay’s job to lose, but Hajrullahu has looked solid to start camp.

On Monday, the competition between these two ramped up. For the first time this training camp, McCarthy broke out the now-famous “mojo moments.” This time, it was a scenario that was focused on getting their two kickers to attempt game-winning field goals.

During the “mojo moments,” Garibay missed both of his field goal attempts, bouncing one off the goalpost. In stark contrast, Hajrullahu drilled both of his attempts.

In addition to the “mojo moments,” Hajrullahu hit on seven of his eight field goal attempts throughout practice. Garibay again fell short, connecting on six of his eight attempts. It’s still early, but it definitely seems like Hajrullahu is pulling out in front of this camp battle as the coaching staff tries to ramp up the intensity.