Practice Recap: Roster Churning; First Fight

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OXNARD, Calif. – Nearing the halfway point of training camp, the Cowboys are starting the annual roster shuffle.

Given a week to evaluate all 90 players, the team has begun making moves in the interest of increasing the competition level. It started Monday afternoon with the decision to release Rico Gathers, but those moves have continued through the week.

On Tuesday, the Cowboys signed defensive back Tyvis Powell to replace Gathers on the roster, and they also added offensive tackle Lukayus McNeil to fill the hole left by Larry Allen Jr.

The churn continued Wednesday, as Lance Lenoir and Derrick Puni were released to make way for two new offensive signings – tight end Marcus Lucas and offensive tackle Juwann Busell-Beatty.

The decision to part ways with Lenoir is at least somewhat surprising, given his history with the team. The Cowboys originally signed him undrafted back in 2017, and he excelled enough in training camp to earn a spot on the practice squad in each of the last two seasons.

He parlayed that into a stint on the active roster last season, when injuries helped him earn a call-up for seven games.

Still, Lenoir has been nursing a knee injury for most of training camp to this point, and the Cowboys are looking for players who can help them handle the workload of training camp.

There’s a good chance that several of these signings are aimed at helping the team get through Saturday’s preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers. It’s a good bet that few, if any, starters will play, and most of the team’s injury concerns won’t make the trip.

That should provide plenty of opportunities for young players – newcomers and familiar faces alike – to make an impression.

Here are some more notes from Wednesday evening’s practice:

  • It took 10 practices for the first scuffle of training camp. La’el Collins and rookie Trysten Hill traded a few swings (none connecting) after Hill went to the ground rushing against the veteran right tackle. Players quickly broke up the skirmish and practice moved forward without issues. “That’s one thing about football. You hit each other enough, it’ll come out,” Collins said afterward.
  • All-Pro guard Zack Martin is not expected to play in Saturday’s preseason opener against San Francisco as the Cowboys continue to rest his sore back. Joe Looney, the team’s starting center last season, moved into Martin’s right guard spot with the starters Wednesday. Xavier Su’a-Filo had been working in Martin’s place the last few practices.
  • It was Kasey Redfern’s turn at field goals in practice and the kicker/punter made 5-of-6 between approximately 33 and 47 yards, his only miss coming from about 45 yards.
  • Center Travis Frederick has been held out of one-on-one pass rush drills as he works his way back to full practice for the first time in a year. Wednesday he got his first rep in the drill, holding his own against starting defensive tackle Antwaun Woods.
  • Nice throw by backup quarterback Mike White during blitz period, cutting it loose down the right sideline and finding receiver Devin Smith for about a 30-yard gain.
  • Maliek Collins and Tavon Austin both took veteran’s days from the afternoon practice. Collins had yet to take a day off at this training camp, while the coaching staff has been keeping an eye on Austin’s workload.
  • The first-team offense attempted not one, but two flea-flickers during the course of the afternoon. The first was a deep bomb to Michael Gallup that landed incomplete, while the second was a short screen to Jason Witten. It raised some eyebrows, to say the least.

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