OXNARD, Calif. – Fourteen practices into the Oxnard leg of training camp, Dak Prescott is making progress with his revamped receiver group.
"We're starting to really click. We're started to get it," he said. "As I've said, we had a lot of new guys come in at receiver and playing different positions, especially with a bunch of different guys that each have something different to offer to our receiving corps. It's been good."
The Cowboys have two practices left in Oxnard, including Wednesday afternoon's workout. The team is schedule to return to Dallas on Friday with more camp practices set for next week at The Star in Frisco after Saturday's second preseason game at AT&T Stadium.
Prescott's connective with his receivers is arguably the biggest storyline of camp. Only three of 14 wideouts were on last year's 53-man roster all season: Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams and Noah Brown.
The team signed Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson in free agency, but Thompson has missed a large portion of camp with Achilles tightness. Brown, a reliable blocker and special teams player as a rookie last season, has missed time with a hamstring injury. The Cowboys won't rush either back to practice.
But Prescott is developing a better rapport with the healthy wideouts in camp. The Cowboys want the receivers to learn the entire route tree first before deciding which players are best at running certain routes.
Tavon Austin, acquired in a draft-weekend trade from the Rams, is emerging as a leader and an outside receiving option for Prescott despite his reputation as a space player and part-time running back.
"In the other place he was, I didn't know he was as good of a receiver as he is and could run routes as well as he does and catches the ball every single time," Prescott said. "He's not just a gadget guy. You don't have to just run him on speed sweeps, and all that stuff obviously opens up the offense and you can use him there as well. But he's a guy that you can put out there, inside, outside, and trust that he's going to get open."
The deep ball has been a big emphasis for Prescott and the receivers in practice. The entire first-team offense ran only 10 plays in last week's preseason opener against the 49ers, but the opening drive was efficient and Prescott delivered a 30-yard touchdown pass to rookie Michael Gallup on a nine route.
The Cowboys know defenses will try to crowd running back Ezekiel Elliott unless the offense threatens them downfield. Austin is the team's fastest receiver, and Thompson has deep speed when healthy, too.
"We've got some guys that really stretch the field," Prescott said. "We knew coming into the offseason and then going into training camp that was a part of our game that we needed to strengthen and we needed to get better.
"If not, they're just going to sit on the underneath routes. We've got let them know that we can beat them over the top and make them pay otherwise."
Three weeks into camp, progress is being made.