FRISCO, Texas – After a day off for the players Saturday, the Cowboys returned for Sunday's second training camp practice in shells.
Some highlights from the morning session:
- Another day, another signal that this is a new era of Cowboys football. It was a minor tweak, but the team took the field with nameplates on their practice jerseys on Sunday. It's obviously a mundane change, since it's incredibly normal to be able to read the name on the back of a player's jersey. It's just not something the Cowboys have ever done. More evidence that Mike McCarthy is putting his fingerprints on how he wants things to function.
- It's not uncommon for offenses to a take a little more time to find a rhythm in camp. While it's still very early, the second practice was an active day for the defense. Linebacker Jaylon Smith in particular showed his range throughout. First he broke up a Dak Prescott pass in the flat intended for Tony Pollard. Then in team drills, Smith busted through the gap to stop a pass for Ezekiel Elliott.
- Aside from getting their hands on the ball, the secondary seemed to enjoy a generally productive day. Prescott went 6-of-8 during the primary 7-on-7 throwing period, but the vast majority of those balls were check downs to backs and tight ends. During the full-team period, neither Prescott nor Andy Dalton were able to complete their long shots down the field.
- The cornerbacks had a least two interceptions at first glance: one from Chidobe Awuzie in seven-on-seven drills against rookie quarterback Ben DiNucci, and another by Anthony Brown on a deep ball from Dalton intended for Michael Gallup. "We're getting to the ball, so that's always good," Awuzie said afterward via conference call.
Views of the Dallas Cowboys during the second day training camp at Ford Center at the Star in Frisco, TX.
- Head coach Mike McCarthy praised second-round pick Trevon Diggs' ball skills after the first practice. Sunday, the rookie cornerback broke up a deep ball down the left sideline intended for wide receiver Devin Smith.
- Injuries always present challenges during training camp, and offensive tackle looks like an early problem spot. La'el Collins and Brandon Knight are not currently practicing while they rehab from injuries, and Cameron Erving has yet to attend a practice at this camp. That leaves Tyron Smith as the only tackle on the roster with legitimate NFL experience. For the time being, young players like Wyatt Miller and Terence Steele have been presented with a big opportunity.
- The Cowboys like second-year running back Tony Pollard's versatility as a complement to Pro Bowl starter Ezekiel Elliott, and that was on display with a combination of runs and catches in seven-on-seven and team drills.
- Monday is the first day teams around the league can wear pads, which always means a bump in intensity during practice. But McCarthy says he has been pleased with the team's energy and conditioning level. "We'll get the other specifics of each and every drill cleaned up and what the expectation is, but I thought the guys did a really good job coming out for the first day as far as the energy and the enthusiasm and overall practice tempo," he said before Sunday's practice.