FRISCO, Texas – Savor these points, because they're some of the last practice notes of the year.
The Cowboys only have one more training camp practice before they close practices for the regular season. And with two games next week, it's a good bet that Tuesday's work will be very light before the team heads down to Houston.
With that in mind, here's a look at the work we saw on Friday morning during a fully-padded practice.
· Jeff Heath has been the one safety that, when asked to play down in the box, has been the most productive when defending the ball in coverage. I have been waiting for another safety to step up and accomplish what Heath has -- and Kavon Frazier did just that on Friday. Dak Prescott attempted to fit the ball inside to Geoff Swaim along the hash. Frazier, playing two to three yards behind Swaim, drove on the ball and hammered it out of his hands. It's nice to see safeties other than Jeff Heath making plays on the ball.
· Allen Hurns tried to get Byron Jones on a double-move, but Jones didn't bite at all. It's a route that's really not good for Hurns to run because he doesn't have the speed or the quickness to start and stop like that. If they call this route with Tavon Austin or Deonte Thompson, then you make the defensive backs have to respect that ability.
· Deonte Thompson had a chance to make an adjusting catch on a back shoulder ball from Dak Prescott, but he could not pull it down. Thompson was able to separate from Byron Jones in the middle of the end zone but could not come down with a ball that was well thrown. Prescott gave Thompson a chance by putting the ball in a spot where he should have made the play.
· Well-executed pull by Kadeem Edwards to take out both Tyrone Crawford and Randy Gregory to allow Ezekiel Elliott a lane to the goal line. Crawford came off the ball a little off balance and was stumbling as Edwards caught him just right, knocking him into Gregory with both ending up on the ground.
· Michael Gallup continues to find ways to make big catches down the field. It is impressive how slow he starts off the line, but by the time he's halfway through the route, he has already begun to separate from the defender. This was the case when Gallup was running stride-for-stride with Chidobe Awuzie, then as he was tracking the ball from Prescott he was three yards behind Awuzie before he had a chance to react. Even Tyree Robinson had an angle on the play but Gallup ran right through it.
· This was the second-consecutive practice where Dak Prescott missed Cole Beasley on a quick pass to the flat. On Thursday, Prescott tried to hit Beasley on third down and threw the ball wide. On Friday, it was a tougher throw with Beasley working along the goal line and Anthony Brown in coverage, but it was a pass that we've seen Prescott make with accuracy before.
· Tremendous throw and catch by Cooper Rush and Rico Gathers in the red zone. Rush couldn't have put the ball in a better spot to allow Gathers to go get it. Charvarius Ward is a tall corner and managed to initially knock the ball out of Gathers hands, but his concentration level was too good and he was able to secure the ball on the rebound. Ward tried to stop him off the line, but Gathers was too powerful for him and once Gathers got into position, he was going to be hard to defend.
· It's entertaining to watch DeMarcus Lawrence rush the passer. He has those traits of the great ones where they don't give the blockers the same rush back-to-back. There is always a plan and purpose with Lawrence, and no matter who he is rushing – first-teamer or backup -- he finds a way to break his guy down. Lawrence gains so much ground with his first step that it puts the blockers in a bad position, making it difficult to recover. Nobody in this camp has blocked him with any consistency.
· The defense missed Jeff Heath and Sean Lee during the two-minute drill, especially in coverage. Both Heath and Lee cover so much ground, especially those routes underneath. Prescott was able to hit Cole Beasley with a quick pass from the slot for a first down against Kavon Frazier. If Heath was on the field, he would have likely been in that spot with Frazier playing as the deep safety. Instead, Frazier was forced to deal with the quickness of Beasley and couldn't handle it that time.
· Clutch play by newly-added safety Jeron Johnson on third down to prevent Rico Gathers from making a first down reception. Cooper Rush tried to hit Gathers in the middle of the field right at the sticks. Johnson, tight in coverage, managed to time his break where he went around the left shoulder of Gathers, knocking the ball away all while staying off his back. The stop got the defense off the field and forced the offense into a field goal situation.