How would you compare the level of play so far in training camp to previous years? Do you see any drop off, rustiness or unpreparedness due to the pandemic? – DAVID SUITS / KENDALL PARK, NJ
Rob: In all honesty, I really haven't seen much of a difference in this camp compared to others. The quality of the practices has seemed good. They've been up-tempo and competitive. Sunday night Mike McCarthy said they had one mental error in over 100 offensive, defensive and special teams snaps. Credit the players for showing up in good condition and being assignment sound. There's a long way to go, obviously. But it's been a good start.
David: Honestly, I can't say that I do. Obviously, it's a shortened training camp without the benefit of preseason games. But for the most part, practices look just as competitive as they always have. It's a weird year, but it seems like we're seeing the same type of work as we always have.
I understand that this preseason is unusual because of COVID-19 and changes in the CBA. Even so, it seems like we're going into the season with little knowledge of where the team is at, beyond the usual hype. Do you think the lack of contact and real game situation experience that preseason normally gives players will lead to sloppier play as the season begins? If yes - I think it will - how do you think the decrease in game preparation will manifest itself? – BRENT BILES / AMARILLO, TX
Rob: It's just not realistic to say a compressed camp will have zero impact from a preparation standpoint. Of course it will. That's why Mike McCarthy treated the schedule for Sunday's practice like a game day, right down to the team meal and the bus ride. Without preseason games, even those small details are important. I do think it's a challenge to not have tackling before live game action. It's such a physical sport and there's an acclimation that has to take place. But the bottom line is all 32 teams are in the same situation. And I'll continue to say this: with a new staff, new schemes and a lot of new players, there's no tape on the 2020 Cowboys right now. That should be something of an advantage the first month of the season.
David: I don't think there's any way around this. Preseason games are typically the way teams work around the lack of contact in practice – and now we don't even have those, on top of the way teams often try to save their best players. I think the first few weeks of the season are going to be rough in a number of ways. For starters, I think blocking and tackling might look a bit off to start. But on top of that, it wouldn't surprise me to see more injuries at the outset of the season. Hopefully that's not the case, but it'd hardly be surprising given the circumstances.