The Dallas Cowboys held their third padded practice of training camp on Thursday, and after an off day on Wednesday, it was good to see them back at work.
I’ve mentioned this several times throughout the week in the interest of clarity and context but I have been in Oxnard myself all week with my friends from San Antonio Sports Star. We have been running shows all week, gathering interviews and obviously I have been sharing pertinent things here at the site.
Here are some takeaways from the Cowboys’ Thursday practice.
Josh Ball continues to see first-team right guard work
This isn’t necessarily surprising, but it is just worth noting that it appears Josh Ball is the first man up at right guard in any sort of world where Zack Martin is unavailable.
Mike McCarthy was a part of the morning show with the group I am with on Thursday and mentioned that while he would obviously prefer that Zack Martin be around, that he would have been on a pitch count anyway like Tyron Smith. He added that it is a silver lining to have opportunities for these younger players to step up and meet a challenge.
Defense was really winning the day all throughout practice
One of the big takeaways from Tuesday’s practice was that the offense won the day. That was definitely not the case on Thursday. Every layer of the defense seemed to pop at different points. Consider that at one point even Jabril Cox had a nice play that the coaching staff praised. More on this in a bit.
Jalen Moreno-Cropper had a nice screen off of motion
Tuesday’s down-the-roster wide receiver that popped was Jalen Brooks, but there was a very cool motion with Jalen Moreno-Cropper on Thursday.
At one point he went in motion and came back to the opposite side after the snap and caught a nice screen pass from Cooper Rush. It was a simple thing but it was neat to see him get involved in the backfield.
Dante Fowler had a great day
We talk a lot about various pass rushers on the Cowboys roster and sometimes a few people slip through the cracks. Dante Fowler feels like one of them. On Thursday Fowler creates a fair amount of disruption. It wasn’t Micah Parsons-level or anything, but it was enough to stand out and be a bit of a nuisance.
Both Deuce Vaughn and Malik Davis got first-team work
The Cowboys have been very careful with Tony Pollard which makes sense coming off of his injury. As they move their way through practice though we have seen a number of options replace him with the starters.
On Thursday. both Deuce Vaughn and Malik Davis got their turns. At one point Vaughn ran a nice wheel route in 7-on-7 and picked up 30 or so yards as a result.
It was a bit of a clunky day for the offense
The defense played very well, but part of their success was that the offense was a bit off. I saw two botched snaps, but obviously sometimes those things happen. It wasn’t a bad day for the offense by any means it was just one where things could have been a bit tighter.
Cooper Rush needs to start putting it together
Look, we are all grateful for Cooper Rush. 4-1 last year was remarkable.
But the reason that QB2 is a conversation is because he is not quieting it down. He did not necessarily make any mistakes on Thursday but he is leaving a few plays out on the field. We would all feel better if he was able to generate some more action and activity.
Tyler Coyle was a bit more visible
There was a moment in time where Tyler Coyle lined up like he was going to blitz and really just made his presence known on defense. It was small, but with the injuries at safety right now it is worth wondering just how much Coyle can climb up in terms of where he is on roster priority.
Maybe there is something to Ronald Jones
Both Vaughn and Davis have looked good, but Thursday was the first time that I found myself saying “you know... Ronald Jones could be something.”
Obviously Jones is suspended for the first two games of the season but he has a little bit of burst that is exciting as another part of the overall room. I’m interested.
Brandin Cooks is definitely showing some leadership qualities
This is a small thing but definitely worth mentioning. Tyron Johnson had a really nice play and ran it out pretty far, a good 60 yards from where he first started the play.
As he jogged back to get back in line, Brandin Cooks walked out and held his fist out to give him some props for the positive gain. We have heard so much about how players like Cooks demonstrate leadership, it was very cool to see it on display in a moment like that. If you are Tyron Johnson and you make a big play it has to feel special for someone of Cooks’ stature to come out and acknowledge it.