OXNARD, Calif. – It'd be a mistake to overreact to one afternoon of work, but Saturday marked a heck of a start for a guy making the change to a new position.
Much has been made of Byron Jones' move to cornerback during this offseason. After three years of predominantly playing safety and slot, the Cowboys are asking Jones to play on the boundary as part of Kris Richard's defensive scheme.
If Day 1 is any indicator, he might have a knack for it, as he outrebounded Deonte Thompson to intercept a long ball from Dak Prescott in the early going of practice.
It served as a nice jolt to the first practice, and it was something Richard was clearly pleased to see. The Cowboys' new secondary coach bounded down the field to celebrate with Jones following the pick.
"That's the route that we demand that we have to stop, and that's what he went out and did," Richard said. "That's always the biggest thing. When we stop that ball going up right there, you'll see me doing cartwheels."
For his part, Jones played it cool.
"I want to be more consistent," he said. "There's a couple plays I let up out there, but it's just fun to get back out there, have the pads on and be with the guys again."
Consistency will be key, there's no doubt. But even if it's just one play out of many, it's always nice to start off in style.
Cole Beasley is used to having productive practices, but Saturday felt a little bit different – especially for Beasley. He has long been used to working short routes out of the slot in this offense, but the Cowboys' coaches have him doing a lot more this year.
Beasley lined up all over the formation, running short routes and downfield routes from both inside and outside. On top of that, it seemed like there was a point to get him on the move, as he took the ball several times on multiple end arounds and reverses.
"I was actually saying I've never had a practice like this before. I got a little fatigued," Beasley said. "I'm used to just doing all the quick stuff, but now they got me all over the place and running all types of routes. It's really fun."
The offseason talk has centered around all the different ways the Cowboys want to use their new-look receiver corps. After one day, that's holding true. From the sounds of it, these receivers are going to get their steps in.
It'd be easy to forgive Tyrone Crawford if he ever got frustrated. For the vast majority of his career, he's spent his practices going up against one of the best left tackles in football in Tyron Smith – a guy who, when healthy, rarely gets beat.
Rather than be annoyed, though, Crawford looks at it as an opportunity to improve himself.
"Tyron is, in my opinion, the best left tackle in the league," he said. "To be able to rush against him my entire career and continue to butt heads with that guy has been amazing and it's helped me out a great amount."
Crawford got a chance in the spotlight right away on Saturday, as Cowboys coach Jason Garrett called him in front of the team to go against Smith during the daily Compete Period.
Crawford said he tried to use power to get through Smith, but the All-Pro had an answer ready, right at the outset.
"He had a good trap on me. He got my hand before it even got to his chest – that boy's a technician," he said. "It's just something I've got to get in there and watch, but he knew I was coming with some kind of power."
After the rep, Crawford asked Garrett for a do-over, but he didn't get it. Rest assured, he'll have many more opportunities in the next month.
The Cowboys were short two receivers by the end of Saturday's practice when Cedrick Wilson suffered an apparent shoulder injury in seven-on-seven drills.
Wilson, a sixth-round pick in April, left the field with head athletic trainer Jim Maurer and did not return. The severity of the injury is uncertain.
Second-year wide out Noah Brown (hamstring) has been held out of practice the last two days.