The Dallas Cowboys have been practicing in Oxnard, California, for a few weeks but return home to AT&T Stadium to face the Jacksonville Jaguars. The game will be the Cowboys’ first preseason matchup, and they expect to sit most of their starters.
Dallas has been relatively healthy during practice, with a few injuries popping up as of this week. First-round pick Mazi Smith was dealing with some tendinitis and mild discomfort that prompted a precautionary MRI this week. The defensive tackle returned to practice fully on Thursday and told Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News that he’s on track to get snaps in tonight’s game.
When walking off the practice field Thursday in Oxnard, Calif., Cowboys first-round draft pick Mazi Smith expressed no doubt: He’ll make his team debut Saturday despite missing a practice this week to undergo an MRI on his knee, he told The Dallas Morning News.
The Cowboys drafted Smith to help with their run defense, with the upside to rush the passer. If the Jaguars stick to their plan of playing starters for two series, then Smith can really show what he’s made of against better competition along the offensive linemen.
Cowboys NT Mazi Smith’s strength translates to the NFL. pic.twitter.com/H7e1tVQHdb— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 5, 2023
Rookie tight end Luke Schoonmaker has missed a lot of time due to a nagging foot injury from college, but he is also slated to play against the Jaguars after participating in his first week of practice.
“It’s going to feel really good to be out there,” Schoonmaker said. “It’s really like a first impression. I’m just excited to get out there.”
Because the former Michigan Wolverine has missed valuable time, second-year player Jake Ferguson has been getting almost all the starting reps at tight end. If Schoonmaker can build off of a strong performance tonight, there’s a chance he could elevate himself quickly on the depth chart.
It could only be for limited snaps against the Jaguars, but it’ll be exciting to see the difference Smith and Schoonmaker can make on the 2023 Cowboys.