OXNARD, Calif. – The Cowboys are only four practices into training camp, including two workouts in pads, but there's plenty to discuss about a roster with major competition at several spots.
The DallasCowboys.com staff shares their takeaways from Week One:
Bryan Broaddus: Going into the offseason, one of the areas Dak Prescott wanted improve on was his ability to throw the ball from the middle of the pocket. Why would he want to do that? Prescott knows that defensive coordinators have spent all offseason trying to figure out ways to limit his ability to play on the edges. When Prescott is throwing on the move, he's at his best, so he knows coordinators are going to play him differently. What I have been impressed with through these early practices is how well Prescott is making those tight-window throws from the pocket over the middle of the field. His accuracy has been outstanding as well as his pace. The offensive line has done a nice job of keeping things clean in front of him and the receivers have found separation. Other than the interception he threw to Mark Nzeocha, his hard work in the offseason has appeared to have paid off and defensive coordinators will likely be left going back to the tape to work on other ideas.
Rob Phillips: Two under-the-radar defensive linemen have caught my attention the first week. One, defensive tackle Stephen Paea, was a free-agent addition. The other, Charles Tapper, missed last season. For a thickly-built, 295-pound nose tackle, Paea has some quick-twitch pass rush ability. Drafted by Rod Marinelli and the Bears in 2011, he's excited to be back in Marinelli's scheme where it's more about movement and getting up the field. Tapper's quick first step off the edge is really impressive in these pass rush drills. The Cowboys were excited about his potential last year before the back injury. Will keep an eye on both players once the preseason games get underway. They have a chance to be contributors in Marinelli's rotation.
David Helman:I'm about to state the obvious if you've been following along with our coverage, but this new-look secondary has had an impressive start to camp. We knew going in that all eyes were going to be on Chidobe Awuzie, the No. 60 overall pick in the draft. So far, he is delivering on the hype with a pair of interceptions and another pair of deflected passes in just two padded practices. It's only two real days of work, but it's exciting to see him moving around the formation, handling different duties – and handling them well. Fellow rookie Marquez White is also off to a strong start, as he has looked physical and unafraid in one-on-one matchups as well as full-team repetitions. With all of that said, we haven't even seen Jourdan Lewis yet – so his arrival will be another fun development to watch. Obviously, the rookies are the big talking point, but the veterans deserve some mention, too. Anthony Brown nabbed the first interception of training camp when he picked off Dak Prescott on Thursday morning. Orlando Scandrick also had a really strong first day of practice, as he got the better of Dez Bryant on multiple occasions. It's incredibly early, but it's encouraging to see a strong start from a position group that's facing a lot of scrutiny heading into 2017.
Nick Eatman: Since we're calling this a true "Gut Feeling," I don't really mind putting this out there. But my gut tells me La'el Collins is about to be a superstar in this league. I really like everything I've seen from him, starting this offseason in the OTAs and minicamp and then of course, this first week here at camp. Remember when there was supposed to be a competition at right tackle? That was just a couple of months ago, and now, not only is he the starter on the right side, he's one of the wealthiest right tackles in all of football and he's never even played it in the NFL. I want to see more than just 1-on-1 pass blocking drills because that's where you can tell how he's handling the blocking assignment and blitz pickups. But for now, he's a right tackle who is playing like a guard with his mean streak. Let's see how his progress continues but for now, I think we've got a star in the making.