OXNARD, Calif. – Here's the fun of training camp.
You make impressions on the first day, good or bad – big deal. There'll be another practice in short order and everything goes out the window. The key is consistency. Some guys who look great in the early going of this camp will limp to the finish line, while others will come on strong.
Sunday was just the second padded practice, but we got a first look at that. Who's going to carry over on their strong first impression? Who lets their play slip? It's all part of what these coaches are evaluating, every step of the way.
Here are my evaluations from the Sunday evening practice:
- I have to admit it's different to see Cole Beasley convert third downs from an outside position instead of the slot. Working against Chidobe Awuzie, Beasley did an outstanding job of making him feel like he was taking his route to the outside -- but in an instant he was back to the inside. Dak Prescott knew exactly where he was going with the ball and had it in the air as soon as Beasley made the break.
- The defensive play of the day had to be from Byron Jones knocking the ball away from Lance Lenoir with his off hand during one-on-one's. Lenoir tried to work Jones with a double move and managed a little separation. Prescott appeared to have thrown the ball far enough up the field but just at the last moment, Jones was able to extend his right hand to knock it away.
- Scott Linehan caught Rod Marnelli in a twist front and popped a screen to Ezekiel Elliott off the right side. It was perfectly executed getting Zack Martin, Travis Frederick and Connor Williams out in space as blockers. Martin kicked out Joe Thomas while Frederick took care of Jaylon Smith to the inside. There was a perfect alley for Elliott to run and it was a good 20 yards before a defender was able to lay a hand on him.
- Bad angle by Duke Thomas out of zone coverage led to a big gain by Deonte Thompson. For some reason, Thomas stepped up to take Cole Beasley underneath instead of picking up Thompson deep. Cooper Rush moved to his right in order to see him and hit him with a perfect pass before Marqueston Huff was able to close.
- Good power by Dorance Armstrong to push Cam Fleming back into Cooper Rush to force him to deliver the ball high to the outside, which allowed Jourdan Lewis just enough time to drive in front of Cole Beasley to knock the ball away.
- Allen Hurns continues to show the coaches that, when the ball is thrown his direction, he is capable of making plays. He made two clutch receptions during practice across the middle of the field against Byron Jones where he was able to shake loose. Then another one where he had to fight Jourdan Lewis in tight quarters for the ball.
- Taco Charlton and La'el Collins had some really good battles during practice and that carried over to the Compete Period where they faced off with the entire team watching. Collins was able to get the best of Charlton by not allowing him any type of penetration up the field by getting both of his hands on his shoulder pads. Charlton tried to spin away from him but Collins wouldn't let him go.
- Kony Ealy took advantage of an over-aggressive Connor Williams with a quick swim move to grab a sack on Dak Prescott. Williams tried to set Ealy short and his head went down, which also messed up his base. It was the first time where we had seen Williams lose a rep with poor technique.
- Mike White has had his share of struggles with his accuracy in these practices, but he couldn't have thrown a more beautiful ball to Geoff Swaim with Tyree Robinson in coverage. The window for him to complete the pass had to be no more that maybe a foot. If the ball was a little more inside, Robinson would have been able to knock it away. Swaim did a good job of concentrating on the play as well.
- Rough day for Michael Gallup catching the ball. He had a couple of drops where the ball was right on him and he wasn't able to bring it in. It got to the point that even at the end of practice when the receivers were working against air, he was fighting the ball. To be honest, he looked a little shook. On the positive side, he did have some nice releases off the line to free himself.