FRISCO, Texas – This may be the last opportunity for a practice notebook in 2020.
No, training camp isn't officially over yet. The Cowboys still have a handful of practices before roster cuts must be made. But with no preseason to worry about, the team may be shifting into its regular season schedule earlier than usual – which means practice windows of just 20 or so minutes for members of the media.
If that's the case, Monday's practice was an entertaining one. After practicing at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, the team came back to The Star and got some good work in.
Here's a notebook:
- Michael Gallup did his best Dez Bryant impression in this practice. During the seven-on-seven period, Dak Prescott looked for Gallup breaking outside toward the back pylon of the end zone. To be honest, the throw looked way too high. It didn't even look like Gallup had a chance at it – until he skied up over his defender and came down with it. What's more, Gallup managed to cradle it, one-handed while bringing it down. It was hard to tell from a distance whether Gallup got both of his feet down, but it was an amazing effort.
- Really active day for the running backs. There seemed to be a lot of focus on the running game during team period, as Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard both got plenty of touches. Pollard in particular stood out, as it looked like he scored three touchdowns on the day. But Elliott was explosive with his opportunities, bouncing several of them into the second level.
- A funny moment during an otherwise forgettable snap. Prescott and the ball carrier fumbled their exchange in the backfield, and the loose ball proceeded to bounce onto the carpet right in the middle of the pocket. Prescott went to dive on the loose ball – but then he seemed to stop and realize he was at a practice, and that diving under a pile of pass rushers might not be the best idea. It was amusing to see his brain fight off his instincts to protect the ball, live during the moment.
- Really nice play by Leighton Vander Esch to reach in and break up a pass from Prescott to Dalton Schultz. Prescott looked for Schultz short, over the middle of the field, but Vander Esch was in the perfect spot to put his hand in the way. Both Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith have made many encouraging plays in pass coverage over the last two weeks.
- It's been mentioned already, but it's only fair to shout out Cedrick Wilson for another really good day of work. Wilson torched the defense during team period, catching a short slant and cutting upfield for a 40-yard touchdown. Later on, he broke open on a post out of the slot and Prescott hit him perfectly for another long touchdown.
- Nice series by Dak Prescott and the offense to lead off team drills – 14 plays, 75 yards ending with a touchdown to tight end Cole Hikutini in the back of the end zone. Prescott completed 6 of 8 passes on the drive.
- Amari Cooper once again went through individual drills but did not take part in team period. His workload has been limited the last three practices, but there doesn't appear to be anything clearly limiting him on the field. Asked Sunday if he has any concerns about Cooper's health, head coach Mike McCarthy said, "Not at all." Perhaps the team is simply monitoring the Pro Bowl receiver's workload leading up to Week 1. "Once again there's all kinds of information that goes into those decisions and that's a daily adjustment," McCarthy said. "I wouldn't read into it. We have the benefit of resources to make calculations and roll guys in and out of there."
- The Cowboys haven't had live tackling in their camp practices, but the defense focused on tackling form against a ball carrier, with both players landing on a pad. Tackling technique and ball security drills are critical with no live action in preseason games this year.