OXNARD Calif. – Excuse if you see some long faces from out here. We are picking up camp and leaving on Friday.
Yep, heading home after being here 25 days, and ain't the weather wonderful out here. Now got a little toasty for Oxnard on Wednesday, as I'm writing this it's 75 degrees, but feel like 81. Tonight, ah, 69 at 8 p.m.
Back home, see where it's 94 at like 5 p.m. Good gosh.
That will create some long faces. But thank goodness for the Ford Center. Since the Cowboys' five practices once we get home are open to the public, we'll all be indoors. That's what I'm talkin' about.
So let's go, lots of shots having been collected from here.
· Center of Attention: Leave it to the last day of padded practices for the Cowboys to receive a legitimate scare. Four-time Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick, the anchor of that offensive line, headed to Los Angeles because of stinger problems in the shoulder area to see shoulder specialist Dr. Robert Watkins. Frederick has been as durable as they come, having started 80 consecutive games he has played in, encompassing five straight seasons.
"I've had a couple of flare-ups the last couple of days, just need to rest it. Need to rest to get the inflammation out of there," he said after Wednesday afternoon's practice.
There seems little chance Frederick plays in Saturday's 6 p.m. preseason game at AT&T Stadium.
Now the scary part becomes depth on the offensive line. Backup center/guard Joe Looney has served as the second-team center. Problem is, with Looney filling in with the firsts on Wednesday – and who knows when Frederick will get back – that left first-year offensive lineman Dustin Stanton as Looney's backup. He has no NFL game experience. That spot likely was supposed to be veteran Marcus Martin's, but the torn ligament in his big toe has landed him on IR already. That also means Kadeem Edwards is in line to be the fulltime backup guard.
Talk about a stinger at this point.
· Much Ado About WRs: Of late, when the first-team offense goes out in three wide, it's been Michael Gallup, Allen Hurns in the slot and Tavon Austin outside to the left, that's with Cole Beasley still nursing a groin strain and Deonte Thompson an Achilles strain. Cowboys receivers coach Sanjay Lal is high on the rookie, third-round receiver, saying, "When I tell him something, he writes it down and retains it." Seems everyone wants to know who the Cowboys' top three or four receivers are. Lal says they haven't reached that point, but eventually will pare down to top four. The guy meticulously writes down on his practice play chart where he wants each receiver to line up for each play, trying to decipher which guys run the best routes from where. And when it comes to Tavon Austin, Dak Prescott says, "I didn't know Tavon was as good a receiver as he is."
· Spread 'Em Out: There seems to be a real concern out there from you guys that without a true No. 1 receiver, defenses will just stack the box to cause problems for Ezekiel Elliott running the ball. Well, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan sent out a message the other day for those thinking that's the secret to stopping Zeke. "If there are eight in the box, we'll just spread people out a bit," Linehan says. That means getting Zeke out in the formation, which the Cowboys have been doing a little bit more of that out here. Think how dangerous he'll be in space.
· Going Home: When asked about keeping the players focused with camp nearly over, especially since Wednesday is the last padded practice out here at training camp, head coach Jason Garrett said his message to the guys is "embrace each day." If you think about it, with so many young guys out here trying to make a career for themselves, thy can ill-afford to start mailing practice in. Said Garrett, "We'll go home when we go home." And not until Friday.
· Woods Work: Defensive tackle Antwaun Woods latched on to a first-team spot about a week or so ago, right after the Blue-White practice, and he has not let go. Says Garrett, "He's a great example of a guy who comes from a different place, and that's good for our team. Not everybody is a high draft pick or makes a ton of money. A lot of these guys come in and just want an opportunity to play. We're going to believe what we see." And so far, seeing is believing.
And we'll see much, much more Saturday night at AT&T Stadium, along with those five practices at The Star as training camp continues.