FRISCO, Texas – New location, new routine – but the same goal.
It feels a bit strange watching practice here at The Star after several weeks in California, but make no mistake: this is still training camp. These Cowboys coaches are still evaluating every aspect of their 90-man roster, and it's our job to figure out what that means as cut down day draws closer.
Monday's practice was not padded, as the Cowboys work their way back from Saturday's preseason game. But there was still plenty to put in the notebook:
· This week is a big opportunity for Kadeem Edwards to show what he has working with the first unit. Edwards needs to prove to this staff that he has developed enough to be a reliable backup. If not, they will be forced to make a move there for a player that can handle the responsibility.
· I noticed Tyrone Crawford getting some work at the under-tackle in the base defense with Randy Gregory taking Crawford's spot at end. We had been observing Crawford getting those opportunities primarily in the nickel since Gregory's return.
· Byron Jones continues to make plays on the ball down the field. During 7-on-7, Jones was able to run stride for stride with Michael Gallup down the sideline, never allowing him to separate. Dak Prescott actually put the ball in a pretty good spot for Gallup to make a play on it, but just at the last moment, Jones put his left hand up to distract Gallup to the point where the ball glanced off his hands.
· The depth at safety is a question now with the injuries to Xavier Woods and Jameill Showers. Kavon Frazier stepped into the lineup for Woods opposite Jeff Heath. Tyree Robinson and Kam Kelly continue to run with the second unit. Robinson showed up against the Bengals in a big way with a couple of nice open field tackles. I am still waiting for Kelly to show that promise from his time at San Diego State.
· Former college safety Kyle Queiro received some snaps with the second unit at linebacker. Queiro has flashed some ability in pass coverage more than his work defending the run. His movement has improved, as has his knowledge for the position. He appears far more comfortable with his assignments and roles.
· This was the first time I noticed some two-back scheme with Rod Smith and Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield together. It makes a lot of sense due to the fact that both backs are outstanding receivers when given those opportunities. It also allows the offense to keep a back in to help with blocking.
· I have been critical of Rico Gathers and his understanding of his assignments. Making progress and working with the first offense, Gathers executed a "hot" read to combat a blitzing Sean Lee. Prescott, reading the same thing, fired the ball to Gathers just past the sticks for a first down.
· You want an underrated blitzing linebacker? Damien Wilson has a real feel for how to attack the edge. His quickness and lateral agility are impressive. His movement, along with the way he uses his hands, gives him an advantage. His rush put Cameron Fleming in a poor blocking position. I would not be surprised to see the staff use him in this role more as a nickel rusher.
· Mike White finally had a snap where he set up in the pocket and delivered the ball down the field on time. White has had issues with the clock in his head, but he was able to put it all together and put the ball right where it needed to be so Lance Lenoir could run under it. Charvarius Ward and Kam Kelly were in good shape on the coverage but they could do nothing to defend this pass.
· Newly-signed safety Dominick Sanders got some work during the 7-on-7 period defending Lance Lenoir. On the play, Sanders dropped into his pedal as Lenoir crossed in front of him. Sanders took an angle to try and cut him off, but Lenoir made a nifty spin move back to the inside in order to escape as Sanders went right past him.