FRISCO, Texas – Chalk this one up as a win for the defense.
It's always tough to grade these types of things in a practice setting. Quarterbacks can't be sacked, plays never end early and there's no tackling to the ground. But even still, it was obvious that the Cowboys defense made life difficult on the offense Thursday morning.
Here's a full notebook from inside Ford Center, here at The Star:
- The left tackle position had a few more bodies running through the individual drills on Thursday, highlighted by the return of the top three on the depth chart. Tyron Smith made it back to practice after missing more than a week with injuries. La'el Collins and Cam Erving also practiced for the first time in camp, both returning from undisclosed injuries.
- Smith and Collins were able to participate in individual drills before exiting early to continue their rehab. In the team period, Erving and Brandon Knight worked with the first-team unit.
- Tackle Mitch Hyatt went down with an apparent knee/ankle injury and had to be carted off the field.
- In one of the first plays of team period, Dak Prescott threw an interception after being pressured by a blitzing Jaylon Smith. Dak threw to a spot on the field with no offensive player in the area. Only safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was there to pick the ball off and run into the end zone for a pick-six.
- Dak was later picked off by rookie Trevon Diggs, who had another good practice. Diggs caught an overthrow by Dak over the middle and was able to have a sizable return before the play was whistled dead.
- But the offense had its moments as well, especially taking advantage of a miscue. On a play where the defense only had 10 players on the field, the offense audibled into a run for Tony Pollard, who went untouched up the middle for a touchdown run of at least 40 yards.
- If you were trying to chart all the sacks at this practice, you'd have your work cut out for you. The offensive tackle position is still lacking depth, as neither Tyron Smith nor La'el Collins participated in the competitive portion of practice. As a result, the Cowboys' pass rushers had a field day. Everson Griffen, Aldon Smith and DeMarcus Lawrence all notched at least one sack. Prescott also had to fend off interior pressure, and Leighton Vander Esch also sacked the quarterback on a blitz.
- Special mention for a couple of rookies. Bradlee Anae continues to impress as camp goes along. He mixed into the team period and had plenty of success. Anae racked up a handful of pressures, and likely would have had two or three sacks in live action. Undrafted rookie Ron'Dell Carter also notched a sack from the left defensive end spot.
- Prescott also had some success through the air against the defense's pressure. He beat the blitz with passes to CeeDee Lamb and Devin Smith for big gains, and with ample time in the pocket, found Amari Cooper deep over the middle.
- Tight end Blake Jarwin also showed his ability to get vertical, hauling in a pass from Prescott for a 40-yard gain in team drills to put the offense in the red zone. But safety Xavier Woods, giving up six inches in height, did a nice job batting down a pass to Jarwin later in practice.
- Undrafted rookie running back Darius Anderson showed a different gear in the open field, taking a screen from Andy Dalton upfield for a sizable gain. Anderson and fellow rookie Rico Dowdle have been productive with their touches out of the backfield.
- Catch of the day likely goes to Jon'Vea Johnson. In team period, Andy Dalton looked for Johnson down the left sideline despite good coverage from Saivion Smith and safety help over the top. Despite that, Johnson adjusted his body to make a contested, back shoulder catch while going to the ground.
- For the fourth practice in camp, kicker Greg Zuerlein was a perfect 6-for-6 on field goal attempts. He was good from 33, 37, 40, 42, 44 and 48.