FRISCO, Texas – It feels a bit strange to focus on football, given the events happening around Texas, but the Cowboys did return to practice on Monday.
It really was an evening practice, too. The Cowboys bumped their session back by several hours to help accommodate the Houston Texans, who are using the facilities at The Star while they are displaced by the devastation that Hurricane Harvey is causing to Houston and the Gulf Coast.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett offered his thoughts and prayers to the affected regions at the start of his daily press conference, and then he added that his team would need to compartmentalize the circumstances when it came time to go to work.
With that in mind, it was encouraging to see several injury concerns make their way back to the practice field – particularly among the Cowboys' rookies. After missing substantial time with hamstring injuries, Chidobe Awuzie, Xavier Woods and Ryan Switzer all took part in various parts of Monday's practice.
It remains to be seen what that means for Thursday's game against the Texans. All three of the rookies participated in different portions of practice. Awuzie was a full participant, while Woods and Switzer took part on a more limited basis.
The Cowboys would undoubtedly like to get all three players involved against the Texans, getting them some game experience before the regular season starts.
Charles Tapper also returned to practice after missing time with a neck injury, and Cedric Thornton returned from the hamstring injury that has bothered him for several weeks.
Chaz Green was absent, as he recovers from the ankle injury he suffered during the game against Oakland. Garrett said he's hopeful Green will return from injury "sooner rather than later."
Views of the Dallas Cowboys during training camp from Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
- Ezekiel Elliott has been excused from practice Monday and Tuesday as he attends the appeal hearing for his six-game NFL suspension. Darren McFadden took first-team reps at running back.
- With Anthony Hitchens not practicing due to a knee injury that will sideline him approximately eight weeks, Jaylon Smith got first-team reps at middle linebacker coming off his second preseason appearance this past Saturday. Veteran Justin Durant, though, is the likely replacement for Hitchens when the season starts while the Cowboys continue to be deliberate with Smith's return from a 2016 knee injury.
- Cooper Rush and Kellen Moore continued to split second-team quarterback reps. Luke McCown, now back from a shoulder injury, took third-team reps.
- Defensive tackle Stephen Paea has periodically missed practice in camp to manage knee swelling, and he did not participate on Monday. Cedric Thornton took first-team reps next to Maliek Collins.
- Backup offensive tackle Kadeem Edwards left practice with a noticeable limp after he accidently went to the ground during a one-on-one pass rush drill rep.
Charles Tapper –He didn't show any signs of rust in his return to practice, that's for sure. Granted, he might not have been going against the first-team offensive line, but it was nice to see Tapper get some wins. He gave Byron Bells fits with his speed, as he beat the veteran tackle around the edge twice during one-on-one drills. He also made easy work of Emmett Cleary.
Anthony Brown –Dak Prescott seemed determined to try to connect with Dez Bryant on a long ball, and it didn't work out for him. Prescott and Bryant tried the Dallas cornerbacks deep on three different occasions – and they were denied every time. The most impressive breakup was Brown's, as he blanketed Bryant on a go route and leapt to contest the pass in the end zone. Bryant went to the ground with the ball in his hands, but Brown managed to knock it away. Working against the scout team offense, Brown also managed to read Cooper Rush and jump a route to nab a nifty-looking interception.
First-Team Defensive Linemen – Anytime you win one-on-one reps in front of the entire roster, it deserves consideration in this space. Defensive tackle Maliek Collins and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence got past Jonathan Cooper and Emmett Cleary, respectively, during Compete Period. Both pass rushers have put together a productive stretch of practices, too.
Play of the Day
Noah Brown has a penchant for making great catches, going all the way back to his Ohio State career and continuing through this training camp. He did it again during the Compete Period, when he was matched up against Sammy Seamster in a one-on-one opportunity. Brown faked to the outside, but he crossed back over the middle of the field on a slant route – drawing a flag for defensive holding in the process. Seamster appeared to pin one of Brown's arms to his side, but it didn't matter. The throw arrived, and Brown caught it in the crook of his elbow before wedging it against his hip. It was a pretty impressive effort for a guy who has made a ton of great catches during this camp.
Unofficial Injury Report:
DE Tyrone Crawford (ankle)
CB Jourdan Lewis (hamstring)
FB Keith Smith (knee)
TE Rico Gathers (concussion)
CB Leon McFadden (hamstring)
OT Clay DeBord (undisclosed)
TE James Hanna (undisclosed)
RB Ezekiel Elliott (personal)
CB Duke Thomas (ankle, knee)
OT Chaz Green (ankle)
DT Stephen Paea (knee)
LB Anthony Hitchens (knee)
Returned To Practice:
CB Chidobe Awuzie (ankle, hamstring)
S Xavier Woods (hamstring)
DE Charles Tapper (neck)
OT Kadeem Edwards (undisclosed)
RB Ronnie Hillman (undisclosed)
Tuesday, Aug. 29
10:45 a.m. (Central) – Practice