ARLINGTON, Texas – This was a unique challenge.
In an effort to protect their roster, the Cowboys conducted Cowboys Night on Sunday night at AT&T Stadium – and they did so without putting numbers or names on their players' jerseys. The offense wore white and the defense wore blue, as is typically the case, but those were the only identifying factors on the field.
As such, it was possible – but not easy – to tell who was who. Despite that, there was plenty to see from a full, two-hour practice.
Here are some notes:
- Injuries are probably the most noteworthy news to come out of this practice, and there were two of them. Xavier Woods left practice during the one-on-one portion and seemed to have a slight limp. He returned to the sideline in sweats later on and didn't appear to be too worse for wear.
- Moments after Woods exited, Ventell Bryant went down with what looked like a much more serious injury. Bryant had several athletic trainers tending to him, and he wound up heading to the locker room with lots of assistance from the training staff.
- Dak Prescott guided the offense to pay dirt on a couple of occasions during the earliest portion of 11-on-11 work. Perhaps the best play of the day came with the offense down near the 10-yard line. Prescott adjusted well to pressure in the pocket, stepped up and fired a strike – just inches past Leighton Vander Esch – and found Michael Gallup along the back line of the end zone. To his credit, Gallup made a nice toe-tap maneuver to get both feet down for the score.
- Sunday night was a bit of a simulation for what the regular season might look like. There were no fans inside AT&T Stadium, but the Cowboys piped in artificial crowd noise to simulate what a crowd might sound like. They also opened the two, enormous side doors at AT&T Stadium, as team owner/general manager Jerry Jones has stated before that the doors will be open during games this year to create an airflow.
- Easily the highlight of the night came when Dak Prescott led the offense on a two-minute drill toward the tail end of practice. Prescott guided his group roughly 65 yards in eight plays – all of them completions. He started things off with a short out to CeeDee Lamb, then found tight ends on five consecutive completions. Following that, a short dump off to Ezekiel Elliott put them just inside the red zone. From there, Noah Brown got behind his coverage on a flag route and Prescott found him for the best completion of the night – a touchdown.
Views of the Dallas Cowboys training camp practice, "Cowboys Night" at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.
- As always, it's tough to chart sacks in a practice where the quarterbacks can't be touched, but it certainly looked as though the edge rushers were active. DeMarcus Lawrence had a good chance at two sacks, including one on the final snap of the night. Aldon Smith also appeared to sack Prescott on back-to-back reps at one point. Among the young players, Bradlee Anae once again seemed to notch another sack while working against the other youngsters on the offensive line.
- It's unfortunate that this is the closest we'll come to a preseason game, because the rookie running back competition looks pretty fierce from a distance. It was hard to tell in these circumstances, but both Rico Dowdle and Darius Anderson both looked like they got good opportunities in this practice. If this were a regular year, both rookie running backs would get plenty of chances to show their stuff in the second half of the team's preseason games. Instead, the coaching staff will have to judge from practice which of them is worth keeping – if it keeps either of them, at all.
- Greg Zuerlein had his first miss of training camp, though it was from 60 yards. The Cowboys' new kicker hit his other five kicks from the usual distances, giving him a mark of 29-of-29. From there, the coaching staff decided to try him from the midfield logo, and he missed just wide right. He got a redo, and he drilled it from the same distance. So officially, Zuerlein is 30-of-31 – a hit rate of 97% -- with a long of 60 yards.