(Editor's Note: 90 players are striving for a roster spot over the next month. In an effort to keep up with all of them, Bryan Broaddus is going to write a report on three different players after every practice. From the team's most prominent players to its no-name camp bodies, this is a place to read about what's going on across the Cowboys' roster.)
OXNARD, Calif. – Before the Cowboys travel to Los Angeles to play the Rams, here's a look at three more players and how they practiced on Thursday morning.
Tyron Smith OT
From a scouting perspective, it has been nice to see Tyron Smith work against DeMarcus Lawrence these last few practices. Since Lawrence was moved to the right side, it has been a battle each snap to see who was going to get the better of the other. There have been more times than not during this camp where Smith has been flawless with his technique – but when he has to deal with Lawrence it's been a different story. Smith wasn't his best during his work against Lawrence on Wednesday. Lawrence is unique to Smith, because he is able to play on a couple of different levels. His quickness and power can break Smith down and this causes him to have to play off balance. Smith can usually recover if you get him initially, but Lawrence is different because when he wins initially, he can maintain that rush up the field -- which puts pressure on Smith. Where I thought Smith was better on Thursday was that he did a better job of handling Lawrence's various pass rush moves. To Lawrence's credit, he threw a lot at Smith, knowing that he was starting to get a better gauge of what moves he was seeing. Smith played with better technique and balance, which is exactly what he was unable to accomplish the day before.
Jeremiah McKinnon CB
I have to give credit to the scouting department for the young defensive backs they have added to this squad. As a group they have been competitive against a group of receivers and tight ends that have NFL experience. Jeremiah McKinnon is one of those players that has shown up when the coaches have asked him to take snaps. With McKinnon, I've seen a guy that reacts well to the ball. He plays with quickness and burst. He showed that against Andy Jones to end a threat on the goal line in practice on Thursday. He plays ball well in the air -- especially for a guy that doesn't have much length to him. I have been impressed with his willingness to mix it up, because there were snaps in college where you didn't see him really want to stick his nose in the action. His movement is his best trait and the fact that he can play in the slot and outside make him the type of player who gives himself a shot to make this final roster.
Gerald Dixon Jr. DT
I have to admit it is a little different to see a guy that is 6-3, 325 play as a one-technique in this scheme. The starters at that spot, Terrell McClain and Cedric Thornton are 295 and 302 – so that's more prototype for the position. What I have noticed is that the defensive coaches -- despite having these starters back in the lineup for practice – continue to give Dixon work in the rotation, which means that they want to see what they have in the rookie tackle. Dixon is not the type of player that is going to be a sideline-to-sideline performer like you have in McClain and Thornton. His best move is when he can go straight ahead, push the pocket and get pressure that way. Where he is going to need improvement is developing a pass rush move where he can separate. NFL offensive linemen do a much better job of handling rushers down the middle then they do when they face guys that can play off the edge. Dixon, at this point in his young career, is too much down the middle. The sooner he can learn to escape, the better chance he has to make this squad.