OXNARD, Calif. – Still no Zeke.
Now no Sean Lee practicing.
No Zack Martin practicing.
No Amari Cooper practicing.
No third-round draft choice Connor McGovern practicing either.
But the show must go on, as it did on Sunday with the Blue & White scrimmage.
Meaning, the shots keep on coming.
- Deadline Moot: We’ve been under the impression that Ezekiel Elliott had to report to Cowboys training camp by Tuesday, Aug. 6, otherwise he would lose an accrued season toward free agency, meaning next year he’d still be going into his fourth year. Not true. Finally got that clarified by the guys in the front office. Am told since the Cowboys already have picked up his fifth-year option, meaning he’s still under contract for the 2020 season, the Aug. 6 deadline is a moot point. This rule was put in place for players heading into their final contract season. For example, say a guy such as Maliek Collins, who is in the final year of his four-year deal, had held out of camp trying to create some negotiating leverage since no one likes to be in the final year of their contract. He would have needed to report by Aug. 6 or else.
- Injury Update: Sean Lee told me if there were a game next week he’d be ready to play. But since the Cowboys don’t play a game with tangible results until Sept. 8, count on Lee (minor MCL sprain) being place in bubble wrap. Probably the same for Zack Martin (disk irritation), at least until the Cowboys return from Hawaii. No way either will play Saturday against San Francisco. Probably the same for Amari Cooper, who is dealing with a balky heel. Was told he likely was heading for a scan to figure out what exactly is going on. Cooper has missed the past two days of practice and takes advantage of Monday’s off day. DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Byron Jones and Noah Brown, all on PUP, continue to rehab on the side.
- Good Tip: Was told before the start of training camp to keep an eye on first-year running back Jordan Chunn, who spent last year’s rookie season on the practice squad. Well, I see you Jordan Chunn. He’s been having a strong camp so far and continued to impress with several runs in Sunday’s practice/scrimmage. Might just force the Cowboys to keep four running backs if he keeps it up.
- No Blinking: Was about this time last year that defensive tackle Antwaun Woods caught everyone’s eye. And when I first talked to him at camp, the former Southern Cal Trojan who went undrafted in 2016 and spent two seasons on Tennessee’s practice squad seemed awfully confident in his ability. So told him I’d be keeping an eye on him as he was walking off. Woods turned to say, “Don’t blink.” Now, a year later after earning the starting 1-technique tackle job, was seen yesterday with a sweatshirt of sorts with huge letters spelling out “Don’t Blink.”
- Witt’s Fire: Don’t think Jason Witten has lost any edge after prematurely retiring last year. He’s just as fired up playing ball as he’s always been. Take Sunday’s Blue & White scrimmage. On one of the first 11-on-11 snaps, he was called for holding, or as I heard the official say, “Double hold.” Not sure if that meant holding the defensive player twice or two guys held the same guy. Witten was none too happy about it, and no never mind this was a mere scrimmage, the 11-time Pro Bowl tight end, by the way tied with Bob Lilly for most in franchise history, gave the official who threw the flag what-for. Just like old times.
- X-Factor: Third-year free safety Xavier Woods, starting in just his second season, already has picked off three passes in training camp. Just continues to improve. So maybe you can find a highly-productive free safety for less than $13 million a year, if you catch my drift.
- Camp Shots: Still no third-round pick Connor McGovern (strained pec) practicing, and too bad for him because with the shortage of guards now, he could have been maybe sharing some first-team reps … Had heard folks wondering about Randall Cobb’s camp, and if you’re one of them, then watch the scrimmage … Once again, when Cowboys COO Stephen Jones answers questions about the Zeke negotiations, he says laughing, “They won’t call us back.”
And the last word goes to Dak Prescott. When asked about how the offense and defense seemingly alternate dominating in practice from drill to drill and practice to practice, he points out it’s good for competition, saying in the end, “I can’t say we’ve been out here beating up on them, and I’m damn sure they haven’t been beating up on us.”
Can’t beat that.