OXNARD, Calif.– Roster spots and roles at wide receiver will be decided over the next month. Wednesday, rookie Michael Gallup had the type of practice that will earn him snaps when the regular season starts.
Gallup made multiple catches in one-on-one and team drills, including back-to-back receptions in team drills against starting cornerback Byron Jones, who's having an outstanding camp.
The third-round pick got some first-team reps with quarterback Dak Prescott because Allen Hurns received a veteran's day off.
"It's a great feeling," Gallup said. "Once you get comfortable out here, you just play football."
Gallup, the Cowboys' third-round draft pick, showed his wide catch radius Wednesday. He reached near the ground to come up with an acrobatic catch in one-on-one's. Then at the start of team work, he made a diving catch against Jones and just kept his feet in bounds as he dove for the ball on the left sideline.
It was a much more efficient performance than last Sunday's practice, when Gallup lamented dropping several passes that could have been for long gains.
"The other day, it was a down day for me," he said. "So I had to back in the film room and see what I was doing wrong. I came back out today and it was a little bit of a better day for me.
"Also, you've got to earn respect. I think I'm earning respect from some of the veterans. Zeke was out here hollering, 'That's what you've got to do, make plays.' He totes that rock, so I'm just trying to get on his good side."
Someone was clearly trying to prove a point during one-on-one drills. It's not unusual to see two players match up multiple times in one session – but it is a little strange to see the same matchup, featuring the same route, four times.
That's exactly what happened between Tavon Austin and Byron Jones, though, as the duo squared off in a really entertaining battle. Four different times, Austin and Dak Prescott tried to execute a go route against Jones. The first two times, it was the cornerback getting the better end of the deal. The second two reps saw Austin get the last laugh.
For a guy who hasn't traditionally gone downfield a lot, Austin has certainly gotten plenty of deep routes at this camp. Whether that translates to the season will be interesting.
Speaking of the red zone, the Cowboys offered a fantastic glimpse of what Ezekiel Elliott might be able to do for them this year during the final session of practice.
From the start of the red zone period, Zeke was the focal point of the offense. On 1st-and-10 from the 20-yard line, Zeke took a play action screen pass for five yards. On the next snap, he took the ball off right tackle for a first down. Following that, he ran an angle route and took the ball down the five-yard line. Of course, he finished off the possession with his fourth-straight touch – a short carry for a touchdown.
It was a fun glimpse into all the different ways Zeke can help the offense.
It was an up and down day for some of the Dallas tight ends.
Dalton Schultz practiced for the first time since he returned from the birth of his son back in Texas, and there were definitely growing pains. Jason Garrett matched Schultz up against Damien Wilson during one of the team's Compete Period drills, and he didn't fare too well.
Blake Jarwin also had a regrettable rep during seven-on-seven drills, as he couldn't quite pull down a ball from Dak Prescott in the end zone.
Schultz ended the practice in style, though, as he beat Leighton Vander Esch into the flat for a touchdown during the practice-ending red zone session.
There were quite a few absences from practice on Wednesday, for a variety of reasons. Allen Hurns and Tyrone Crawford sat out on veteran days – as did Sean Lee, who has not practiced in pads to this point in training camp. Taco Charlton also did not practice with a shoulder problem. Marcus Martin also sat out of practice.
Charles Tapper and Chris Covington also sat out, as they recuperate from illness. Noah Brown also continues to sit out while he recovers from a hamstring injury.
Terrance Williams benefited from Hurns' absence, as he mixed in with the first-team offense. Kony Ealy started at right side defensive end in place of Crawford.