The Cowboys are now through two practices of training camp out in Oxnard, California and the intensity is starting to ratchet up. Players are competing for roster spots, starting jobs, and determining what their roles will be come time for the regular season.
Two players who don’t really have to worry about any of that, though, are Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore. Both players were acquired via trade during the offseason in an attempt to shore up some weak spots on either side of the ball.
Cooks has been a well-travelled receiver despite playing reliable and productive football throughout his career. The Cowboys got an instant upgrade due to his separation ability and the downfield threat he poses to opposing defenses.
Gilmore, on the other hand, has a reputation for shutting down guys like Cooks. Gilmore even won the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award back in 2019, and his command of the fundamentals of the game have helped him remain a dominant cover corner late into his career.
It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, to see Cooks and Gilmore developing a bit of a rivalry on the field so far in Oxnard. Their battles on Thursday quickly became must-watch TV:
Brandin Cooks vs Stephon Gilmore: pic.twitter.com/REXE83oOeJ— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) July 27, 2023
It’s naturally exciting to watch two savvy veterans square off against one another. Cooks had one notable highlight on Wednesday that came at Gilmore’s expense, with the shifty receiver juking Gilmore out of his shoes after the catch.
Dallas will depend on both players to not only be key starters at their respective spots but to also serve as a mentor to younger players. Cooks has mentioned repeatedly how he’s taken Jalen Tolbert under his wing, and CeeDee Lamb could learn a lot as well. Meanwhile, Trevon Diggs has spoken a few times about how he’s taking careful notes from Gilmore.
The Cowboys are smart to encourage further competition between these two. It’ll sharpen both players but also set an example for the others on the type of consistency and competition the team needs at this early stage of the season.