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Practice Points

Practice Points: Intriguing New Options At Fullback


OXNARD, Calif. – The Cowboys were back on the field Thursday for practice and we got a good mix between the offense and defense with both sides getting their share of success.

  • Fullback Ryan Nall's shoulder injury that could sideline him for 2-4 weeks, forced the Cowboys to do some familiar shuffling in the running game. Despite still splitting first-team reps at left guard, Connor McGovern went back to his role as an occasional fullback. And when that happened, first-round pick Tyler Smith got his first-team reps at left guard. Along with McGovern, backup center Matt Farniok was also used a couple of times as a fullback.
  • Things are truly getting intriguing as it relates to what the actual role for KaVontae Turpin might be in 2022. If you put any credence into the praise Turpin has received from special teams coordinator John "Bones" Fassel, and you should, it sounds as if the speedster is virtually a lock to make the team as a returner, but there might be more than meets the eye here -- as the reigning USFL MVP has not only begun making plays for the offense as a receiver, but being the recipient of a handoff out of the backfield on Thursday hints at the Cowboys potentially using him as a halfback in certain packages.
  • Speaking of the situation at running back, when offensive coordinator Kellen Moore intimated the Cowboys would look to utilized more packages the feature both Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard on the field simultaneously, he wasn't kidding. On Thursday, there were at least two separate occasions in which that plan materialized, and even more interesting was in how Elliott became the lead blocker for Pollard, a fullback role usually reserved for Ryan Nall; but with Nall set to miss time due to a shoulder injury, the Cowboys have that much more motivation to experiment with Elliott and Pollard to see what fruit they can pluck from that tree.
  • The 1-on-1 passing drills were dominated by the receivers on Thursday, as nearly all of the front-line players won their battles. CeeDee Lamb got Trevon Diggs on a deep post, running by the All-Pro corner by about five yards for a score. Jalen Tolbert also caught a deep ball, as did Noah Brown and T.J. Vasher. During the team drills, it was more competitive, but 1-on-1's went to the receivers on this day.
  • Noah Brown was arguably the most consistent of the backup receivers on Thursday, catching passes over the middle both high and low. Brown made a diving catch right off the ground to extend a drive. He also had some nice sideline grabs, beating Anthony Brown on an out-route.
  • Kickers Lirim Hajrullahu and Jonathan Garibay again took center stage during Thursday's "Mojo Moment," a quick-clock situation for the offense. Hajrullahu made 3-of-3 attempts from 42, 47 and 42 yards. Garibay was 3-of-4 from similar distances. To make things a little more interesting, the coaching staff tried to 'ice' both kickers with a late timeout and some artificial penalties. Earlier in practice, Hajrullah went 7-of-8 and Garibay 4-of-8.
  • Some nice competition between the receivers and cornerbacks throughout practice. The receivers had the edge in one-on-one go-route drills, with rookie Jalen Tolbert and Simi Fehoko scoring touchdowns. In team drills, quarterback Will Grier hit rookie receiver Jaquarii Roberson perfectly in stride for a touchdown. But cornerbacks Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis also shined in team drills, getting their hands on multiple passes. Lewis got his fingertips on a deep ball to Fehoko that saved a touchdown.
  • Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was excused from Thursday's practice to attend to a personal matter.
  • Linebacker Jabril Cox and tight end Jake Ferguson did some rehab work with the athletic training staff during practice. The Cowboys are being smart with Cox's reps as he returns from last year's ACL injury. Ferguson has a hamstring injury that isn't considered serious.
  • Rookie wide receiver Dontario Drummond passed his physical and returned to practice from the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list.

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