FRISCO, Texas – Sunday afternoon marked the beginning of the final week of practices during this year's training camp.
True, it doesn't feel like the Cowboys have been in training camp for the last week since they moved into their new facility – but that's the type of environment coach Jason Garrett is trying to maintain.
It shouldn't be hard to foster a competitive spirit this week, as the Cowboys have to have their roster trimmed by this time next weekend. Before that happens, I'm going to take a look at a few key notes on what to expect as we move forward here toward the final preseason game.
- I was worried about the possibility of Orlando Scandrick struggling with his groin injury leading up to the Giants game. Scandrick makes his living with his legs and any type of injury to his lower body affects how he is able to do his job. Scandrick started the day on the cords with associate athletic trainer Britt Brown, but he appeared to be moving around well. Brown does an outstanding job of getting these players back on the field and ready for action, which I believe he has done here. Look for Orlando Scandrick to be at full speed for that opening game.
- It was clear the minute Dak Prescott first stepped foot on the practice field at Valley Ranch, Scott Linehan was looking to scheme up some ways for him to succeed. Linehan has provided Prescott with throws that he is comfortable with. He moves him in the pocket to create easier reads – giving him some simple options. Where this all changed for Prescott was during a two-minute period in Oxnard, Calif., where he was running the first offense. During that drill he found Cole Beasley, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten all on the drive to move the team. At that point, he finally looked like a pro quarterback. Then came the Rams game where Linehan put him in the shotgun and let him go to work. There were downfield throws off play action as well as touch passes in the flat that were all well-executed. You could see the confidence between Linehan and Prescott grow with each play call. We are to the point where -- instead of coming into the game and handing the ball off just to set up a punt – Linehan has Prescott rip a throw inside to Cole Beasley for a first down. Those are calls you don't make if you lack confidence in the man taking the snap.
- The closer we get to this game against the Giants, I believe that Jack Crawford will be the starter at left defensive end. I just don't see Ryan Russell or David Irving doing enough to beat him out for the spot. If Russell was more consistent finishing plays it might have been a different story but that's just not the case.
- If you want a player to keep an eye on for the Texans game, Lawrence Okoye deserves your attention. With the suspensions to DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, I am starting to wonder if Okoye could somehow sneak onto the roster. Okoye should get plenty of work in the game at both defensive end and tackle. He is one of those players that, when given the opportunity to play, he has shown up.
- I will need to see if Lance Dunbar plays against the Texans with two more full days of practice before the game. By all indications, Dunbar has been getting more work each time out and has regained the majority of his trademark explosive quickness. The debate among the front office will whether they carry three or four running backs. If they just decide to keep three, Darren McFadden will likely remain on Non-Football Injury list and rookie Darius Jackson would be exposed to the wire. If they decide to keep four, then Jackson should be okay. As much as I like Jackson and would surely consider him over Dunbar -- I am just not sure that the front office feels the same way.
- The next two important dates for the NFL is the cut down from 90 to 75 players on Aug. 30th -- then from 75 players to 53 on Sept. 3rd. The Cowboys hold the fourth claiming spot in the NFL waiver system and will have it until the day after the third regular season week. If they make a claim, they will not drop to the bottom of the order. Assignments are based on a claiming order that is the same as the order in which clubs selected in this year's NFL draft. If the Cowboys decide to claim multiple players, they will be required to list those players in order of priority. The league will then go through the list and award to players to the clubs based on their priority.