OXNARD, Calif. – Once again, the Cowboys gave a few more practice reps to linebacker Jaylon Smith. And the linebacker seemed to take full advantage here in Saturday's practice.
A couple of plays stood out for Smith, who met speedy running back Darren McFadden to a spot during the team period, showing off those instincts that made him one of the NFL's top prospects in 2016 before he suffered a debilitating knee injury.
"It felt great. It felt great to be back in the mix of things," Smith said. "Just that intensity of the gladiator sport of football. I love being out here and able to make a play. For me, it's about improving every day. I've improved from the first day and tomorrow I'll continue to improve. So I'm excited."
Smith said he doesn't really think about his knee injury until he gets asked by reporters after practice.
"I've been doing a lot of this for a long time now," Smith said. "It's just a matter of you guys really being able to see me in and out of cuts, and contact. I'm really excited."
And he's not alone. Team owner/general manager Jerry Jones named Smith as one of the young players that has really caught his eye the last few days.
"I thought he had a good day of reps. He was really reactive out there today," Jones said of Smith. "He's really improved to where he was just two days ago."
-- Nick Eatman
*Quick Hits *
- Rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis had to leave practice with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. He was walked into the practice tent with an athletic trainer and did not return to action.
- The Cowboys' offensive line is given a lot of credit – and deservedly so. But with all the credit the O-Line earns, it's only fair to recognize the Cowboys' pass rush. The Dallas defensive line won the upper hand in one-on-one pass rush drills on Saturday. DeMarcus Lawrence and Benson Mayowa had good outings against Tyron Smith, while Stephen Paea and Cedric Thornton were both able to get wins against Travis Frederick and Zack Martin. Taco Charlton and Tyrone Crawford also gave La'el Collins fits on the right side. It was an encouraging showing for the defensive first-teamers.
- Actor Omar Epps, who was in attendance for the entire Saturday afternoon practice, got a playful invite from running backs coach Gary Brown to get into the action. After a drill that included all of the backs, Brown turned and said "You want to take one? You were a running back in *The Program *right?" Epps just laughed it off, acknowledging it's more than 20 years since he played the character Dontell Jefferson in the 1993 film.
- A packed crowd of 7,407 Cowboys fans sang "Happy Birthday" to quarterback Dak Prescott during practice.
- Along with Epps, actors Taylor Lautner and Christopher Titone attended practice.
- An NFL officiating crew was in attendance to referee practice.
Tyrone Crawford –He might have been the instigator in some fights on Thursday, but he was bringing the fight in 1-on-1 pass rush drills. From the end position, he got around La'el Collins on two occasions. In fact, Collins asked to redo the drill to get another shot at Crawford, who proceeded to blow right past him again.
Byron Jones – The third-year safety continues to make plays on the ball in practice. Jones forced the offense to kick a field goal with back-to-back pass breakups: a diving interception out of bounds on Dak Prescott's deep pass intended for Brice Butler, followed by another deflection on third down.
Dan Bailey – The veteran kicker was perfect on field goal attempts, converting from approximately 32, 37, 40, 45, 48 and 49 yards out. He also drilled a 57-yarder and a 29-yarder in 11-on-11 work.
Play of the Day
During the team period with the first-teamers facing each other, Dak Prescott drew an offside penalty with a hard-count, giving him a free play. He took the snap and alertly threw a deep ball down the right side to Terrance Williams, who beat Nolan Carroll to haul in the pass, getting his feet inbounds for a reception some 30 yards down the field.
Unofficial Injury Report:
DT Maliek Collins (hip)
DT Joey Ivie
LB Justin Durant (NFI)
WR Ryan Switzer (hamstring)
CB Jourdan Lewis (leg/hamstring)
DE David Irving (
Returned to Practice:
DT Richard Ash
Sunday, July 30
3:45 pm (PDT) – Practice