Scout's Notebook: Who Shined In The Red Zone?

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OXNARD, Calif. – Wednesday's practice featured something we haven't seen a lot of to this point in training camp – the all-important red zone.

The Cowboys went through red zone work for a healthy portion of their afternoon practice, and it seemed to raise the level of intensity of the day – not to mention the performance level.

Here are my notes:

  • We saw a good bounce back by Michael Gallup in the Wednesday practice. Gallup made several plays where he was able to adjust to the ball no matter where it was thrown, low or high. One exceptional play he had was a catch along the sideline where he had to adjust with not much room to work with. The ball from Dak Prescott was in a spot where Gallup had to almost cradle it over his head, then concentrate to get his feet down -- all with Byron Jones driving to knock him out of bounds.
  • Cole Beasley had his first back shoulder catch of the camp during the red zone period. Beasley, working against Chidobe Awuzie, appeared to be covered but made a decision to stop mid-route in the hope that Dak Prescott saw the same thing. Prescott in fact did and put the ball to the outside with Awuzie scrambling back in order to try and defend. The route was well-adjusted and completed with a quality throw.
  • Giving up some height to Mekale McKay, Anthony Brown did a nice job of not allowing McKay to work him over on the double move by feeling where he was in the route. Brown could have lost McKay, but he didn't and by staying in position he was able to carry him down the field. When McKay went for the ball, Brown did the same, placing his left hand in between McKay's to knock the ball away from him.
  • Scott Linehan continues to try and find ways to get Blake Jarwin the ball down the field. Jarwin lined up all the way to the outside of the formation and ran a vertical route working against Duke Thomas. Prescott put the ball in a spot where all Jarwin had to do was extend his hands to make the reception with Thomas having no chance to defend.
  • Tremendous hustle by DeMarcus Lawrence to get all the way to the outside to cut off Ezekiel Elliott from breaking a screen pass out the gate. Lawrence was trying to run a twist stunt to the inside, but he felt Travis Frederick and Zack Martin working to his left. Lawrence redirected quickly and was in the flat in a hurry.
  • Speaking of Ezekiel Elliott in the passing game. He and Dak Prescott hooked up on a well-designed play that took advantage of Elliott flexed out wide. Elliott, working against Joe Thomas, was able to shake him with the middle of the field wide open. Prescott knew exactly where he was going with the ball once he saw how the defensive coverage was being played. It ended up being a huge play.
  • Clutch defensive play by DeMarcus Lawrence and Joe Thomas on the goal line to bat a ball down that was intended for Blake Jarwin that would have likely been a touchdown. Lawrence was battling La'el Collins along the line, while Thomas was dealing with Travis Frederick. Both guys went into the air at the same time just as Prescott completed his fake. Big-time awareness by both players to read the play and execute it.
  • There is nothing flashy about Jeff Heath and the way he plays, but he has a knack for being in the right place at the right time -- especially in the red zone. Geoff Swaim triedto run him through the trash across the goal line, but Heath got just enough depth to clear and chase Swaim. Prescott thought he had an easy throw but in fact Heath was right there to contest the ball and knock it away before Swaim had a chance to pull it in.
  • Catch of the day was made by Lance Lenoir on a ball that was thrown extremely wide by Cooper Rush. Lenoir tried the run a stop route but lost his balance and ended up in a horizontal position. Somehow, Lenoir was able to hop back toward the sideline, extending his hands and catching the ball just inches off the ground to secure the first down. Lenoir continues to put himself in positions where he is able to finish plays to get himself noticed.
  • Tavon Austin ran four straight "go" routes against Byron Jones during the 1-on-1 period. All the routes were run inside the red zone with Jones only allowing one touchdown. On the other passes, Jones was able to defend two with Austin catching the final one but he was out of bounds.
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