FRISCO, Texas – After more than a month of work, the Cowboys held their final padded practice of training camp on Monday.
Yes, there's a Tuesday practice, as this team goes through its final preparations for Thursday's game against the Houston Texans. But from here on out, we'll be settling into the regular season routine and getting away from these grueling training camp sessions.
Here are my notes from Monday evening:
- Dez Bryant was able to shake loose from Anthony Brown to snag a ball for a third-down conversion during the team compete period. Bryant initially wanted to run his route to the inside, but Brown cut him off. Dak Prescott had time in the pocket and waited for Bryant to adjust his route back outside. Bryant did just that, with Brown now chasing him. Prescott threw the perfect pass, chest-high, to Bryant -- who easily made the catch. Brown drove toward him for the tackle, but not before Bryant moved the sticks.
- A couple of lineup notes from practice. Cooper Rush once again was the first quarterback to take snaps behind Dak Prescott. Joe Looney, who had been working as the backup to Travis Frederick, moved from center to left guard, while Ross Burbank took his spot in the lineup. With Chaz Green nursing a sore ankle we're likely going to see more of Looney at guard working behind Jonathan Cooper.
- I noticed in Monday's practice where Darren McFadden had another technique issue on a blitz pickup. On this particular snap, Sean Lee was able to break him down to the point where McFadden had trouble even reacting. As Prescott delivered the ball to Dez Bryant, Lee was standing right there in his face and would have likely finished the play. McFadden generally is outstanding with his technique, but this is something that's happened more than once in this camp.
- Dak Prescott continues to do good things as a ball handler -- not only in these practices, but in games, as well. Prescott took advantage of Benson Mayowa crashing down inside, chasing the play to pull the ball out of the belly of Darren McFadden and scoot around the end. Prescott was able to pick up a block from Jason Witten on Sean Lee for a nice chunk of yardage.
- Outstanding awareness by Maliek Collins to read the pull by Jonathan Cooper to his left. He stayed in his hip pocket and beat the block back from Travis Frederick. Collins is able to penetrate up the field and disrupt the inside handoff to Rod Smith, who had nowhere to go with Collins right there on top of him.
- Noah Brown continues to make plays in practice when given the opportunity. Kellen Moore hit him on a well-executed post route when Brown was able to separate from Sammy Seamster inside. Moore was able to fit the ball between Robert Blanton and Damien Wilson to Brown, who never broke stride up the field.
- There are few linebackers in the league that play with the awareness of Sean Lee. Prescott brought Cole Beasley across the field in motion from left to right. That put Beasley on the same side with Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams. Prescott took the snap and fired the ball in the direction of the moving Beasley. Lee had seen all of this develop, and, from the middle of the field, was on the sprint to the boundary to track down Beasley. Lee worked behind Bryant and Williams, out front, to stop Beasley for no gain on a play that appeared to have big yardage written all over it.
- Quality coverage by Damien Wilson in the difficult one-on-one drills between the running backs and linebackers. Wilson had to carry Alfred Morris up and then across the field. Wilson was able to get just enough of Morris to slow him down, which allowed Wilson to tighten the space. Cooper Rush triec to put the ball wide enough where only Morris had a chance to grab it, but Wilson managed to stay in position to get his left hand on the ball and knock it away.
- Kavon Frazier drew Jason Witten during the one-on-one period and was able to hold his own. Witten tried to lean on him up the field, but Frazier did not back down. Frazier was able to match Witten's power and didn't allow him to separate. Cooper Rush had no window to throw in and was forced to attempt to put the ball high to give Witten a chance. Witten was unable to control it with one hand as it fell to the turf.
- Rookies Ryan Switzer, Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods all had a full practice on Monday. In all likelihood, all will be able to suit up and hopefully play against the Texans on Thursday night as long as they continue to get practice time. Switzer, Awuzie and Woods all appeared to be moving well with no further issues. Jourdan Lewis was in full pads but continues to work with Britt Brown on the side indoors. I did notice that Lewis was with Brown on the outdoor field in the morning along with Tyrone Crawford getting work -- so it was a twice a day session for Lewis, who continues to work his way back.