FRISCO, Texas – It'd be hard not to be intrigued by what we saw Tuesday at Cowboys' practice – or who we saw, specifically.
After lengthy rehabs and weeks away from the practice field, the trio of DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford and Byron Jones all took part in the competitive portion of practice. It's pretty fitting timing, given that Tuesday was the final practice of this year's training camp.
It's the second week of work for the two pass rushers, but Jones mixed into one-on-one drills and full-team reps during just his second day back on the roster.
"Just being able to see these guys put the time into their craft and understanding everything that comes with the game, it's really impressive," Lawrence said.
Lawrence has been seen and not heard for most of the summer while he rehabs his surgically-repaired shoulder. But as he worked his way into pass rush drills on Tuesday night, it's easy to picture he and his fellow veterans ramping up during this week leading into the regular season.
"We're pretty deep on the D-Line, and we've got to keep that intensity and focus on getting off the ball," he said.
It's not ideal, but it's a step in the right direction. Lawrence and Crawford have gotten their feet wet over the last few practices, while Jones should have more opportunities to get onto the field next week.
Even for All-Pro caliber players, it will be a gradual process. Lawrence told reporters after practice he didn't feel "all the way" to where he wants to be.
"I want to be better than I was the last two years, so 'all the way there' is being better than I was," he said.
That's got to be music to the Cowboys' ears. They signed him to a $105 million contract in April off the strength of 25 total sacks in the last two seasons. Improving on those numbers might make that hefty salary look like a bargain in time.
As he works his way back toward that goal, Lawrence doesn't sound like someone to bet against.
"This is a hard game, and it takes a lot of focus. It takes a lot out of your body just to be able to play in Rod's system," he said. "It demands a lot from you, so no I don't feel like I'm all the way there. But I'm damn sure going to keep working until I get there."
Here are some more notes from Tuesday's practice:
- Connor McGovern practiced for the second consecutive day on Tuesday, but he appeared to leave practice early after experiencing some soreness to his injured pectoral. McGovern's situation will bear close monitoring over the coming week. The Cowboys would prefer to carry him on their 53-man roster, but they may need to move him to injured reserve to allow him to fully recover. If they ultimately make that decision, it could open a roster spot for another offensive linemen.
- The Dallas secondary gave Dak Prescott fits in 7-on-7 reps. Prescott could not find space to throw the ball, as the Cowboy's starting corners blanketed his options down the field. One of his only completions of the period came after he held the ball for roughly six seconds – which skews the results a bit. The period ended with a bang when Prescott looked for Tavon Austin on a shallow out route – only for Chidobe Awuzie to read the play, jump the route and pick the ball off for a defensive touchdown.
- Prescott found redemption, though. In the two-minute drill at the end of practice, he moved the offense into scoring position with a long ball over the middle to Tavon Austin and a short gain to Jason Witten. It set up a 45-yarder from Kasey Redfern, who drilled it for a 27-24 win.
- Speaking of Redfern, he enjoyed a productive day while spelling Brett Maher. Redfern connected on all six kicks during field goal period, with a long of 49. He attempted two field goals during two-minute drill, connecting on the 45-yarder but missing from 50.
- In addition to working in the full-team period, Byron Jones also got into individuals. He and Randall Cobb had a hotly-contested rep, and Cobb leaped over Jones on a double-move to bring in the touchdown.
- Compete Period was fun, too. In the first session, Anthony Brown broke up a pass from Dak Prescott intended for Randall Cobb on a post route. That was followed by Jason Witten vs. Donovan Wilson, and the veteran absolutely boxed out and posterized the rookie for a touchdown. That was followed by Tony Pollard running against Jaylon Smith, as he ran a fade route for a touchdown.
- Second Compete Period was all about the big guys. Lukayus McNeil held off Daniel Wise on two consecutive reps, and then Daniel Ross bullied Juwann Bushell-Beatty on three consecutive reps. That was followed by Joe Looney going against Ricky Walker, where the veteran came out on top.