OXNARD, Calif. – The first Saturday of training camp saw a big crowd that filled up the stands as they watched an energetic practice that followed the opening ceremonies.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones met with the Oxnard city officials, including mayor John C. Zaragoza, who presented Jones with a mock Super Bowl trophy, prompting the owner to "practice" lifting it up as to signal the Cowboys' annual goal heading into the season.
That seemed to fire up the crowd and it fueled over into practice.
Here are some highlights that came out of Saturday's session:
- Cornerback Jourdan Lewis said the atmosphere "felt like a game" on Saturday as the fans provided plenty of energy on each and every play. Quarterback Ben DiNucci said the two-minute drill was sparked by the crowd, that gave instant reaction each and every play.
- Cooper Rush, one of the backup quarterbacks on the roster, suffered a lower-back iinjury midway through practice. He walked off towards the sideline to meet with the athletic trainers for a moment. He returned to the field but didn't throw another pass the rest of the day. There doesn't seem to be high concern with his injury and Rush should be able to return, possibly by Sunday's next practice.
- The most memorable segment of the practice was the two-minute drill – particularly Dak Prescott's. The first-team offense went three-and-out to start the session, but their second attempt was much more encouraging. Prescott went 7-of-8 in driving the starters down the field with time dwindling on the practice clock. The offense moved itself inside the 10-yard line, where Prescott looked for Noah Brown twice. The first was a slant over the middle that likely would have scored a touchdown in a padded situation. The second was a back shoulder fade, which Brown hauled in over Nahshon Wright in impressive fashion – though he was unfortunately well out of bounds.
- CeeDee Lamb just missed out on a circus catch during the seven-on-seven period of practice, but he made up for it with a nice one-handed snag. Lamb made the catch working on the outside against Trevon Diggs. As might be expected, Lamb vs. Diggs is a training camp battle we should start getting used to. "We came in together, so we hold each other to a high standard," Lamb said. "He got me on the first one, so I had to be sure to let him hear it."
- Another active practice for first-round draft pick Micah Parsons. The rookie linebacker nearly picked off a DiNucci pass in 7-on-7 drills and later raced downfield to cover what would've been the catch of practice: a Prescott deep ball that CeeDee Lamb high-pointed and couldn't quite haul in.
- The coaching staff isn't shying away from finding ways to use Micah Parsons. It's still hard to evaluate the rookie linebacker without pads on, but it's obvious he has a healthy workload. At one point during practice, Parsons left seven-on-seven drills against the skill players and jogged to the other end of the field, where he got some run in the one-on-one pass rush drills. After getting a couple reps against the Cowboys' offensive tackles, he was back down the field for more seven-on-seven.
- Fifth-round draft pick Simi Fehoko showed great concentration and body balance up against the left sideline, catching a 20-yard ball from quarterback Garrett Gilbert with Trevon Diggs and Jayron Kearse in tight coverage.
- Saturday marked the first punt return period of camp. Running back Tony Pollard and wide receivers CeeDee Lamb, Cedrick Wilson, Reggie Davis and Johnnie Dixon took return reps.
- Linebacker Francis Bernard was doing rehab work with the athletic training staff after injuring his hamstring in Thursday's opening camp practice.
- The backup receiver spots are going to be very competitive, especially if receivers such as Noah Brown and Fehoko have more days like Saturday. But one rookie that helped himself was Osirus Mitchell, an undrafted player from Mississippi State. Mitchell caught three memorable passes on Saturday, including one down the sideline in a two-minute drill that set up a touchdown.