OXNARD, Calif. – Strictly speaking, the Blue & White scrimmage is about the Cowboys' younger players. When the starting quarterback talks, though, people listen.
Dak Prescott wasn't part of the Cowboys' official scrimmage on Sunday evening, but he got plenty of reps in the early going of practice. Before the scrimmage started, the first and second-team offense each got a handful of possessions against the first and second-team defense.
Working in a variety of situations, from red zone to two-minute, Prescott saw a mixed bag of production. He threw a touchdown down the seam to Geoff Swaim; he was also intercepted by Anthony Brown. He hit Allen Hurns for a score in the back of the end zone; he also saw a tipped ball wind up in the arms of Jeff Heath.
It was indicative of what's been a good, if unspectacular camp for the young quarterback to this point.
"I've made some good throws and I've made some not-so-good throws," Prescott said after practice. "I've taken chances here and there, and I'm definitely improving."
More so than anything else, Prescott kept his focus on continuing to build trust with his wide receivers. It's been well-documented how new the Cowboys' receiving corps has looked at times. Couple that with receivers cycling in and out of the lineup due to injury, and it still looks like a work in progress.
"Still trying to gain chemistry, and it's going to come. We've got some guys sitting out, but other guys are getting in. We're starting to gain it," Prescott said. "We're starting to get that trust. Obviously it's there with Bease and some of the other guys, but you've got to gain it with some of these young guys."
It's surreal to think that, in two short years, Prescott has gone from a young guy himself to a veteran quarterback. It's unlikely he'll see much, if any playing time in Thursday night's preseason opener against San Francisco – when many of his younger receivers will see significant snaps.
While he waits to get into a game, Prescott will have to settle for practice reps. The controlled environment of practice can make it difficult to fully evaluate the play on the field, but it definitely highlights what needs to be worked on.
Whether he's being aggressive or conservative, Prescott said the goal is simply to make the right decision.
"I think I figured out last year some of the throws I could make and throws I couldn't make – in practice and then obviously some in the season," he said. "At this point it's just about going out there and making the right throw in the right situation every time. If it's checking it down, that's it, and if it's taking that go ball, it's giving it a chance."
Quick Hits From The Blue & White Scrimmage
- Working on one field, the players went through their normal pre-game warmup routine prior to practice. The preseason opener is Thursday at San Francisco.
- As Deonte Thompson (Achilles tightness) and Noah Brown (hamstring) rest injuries, Lance Lenoir continued to make plays with additional snaps, catching a touchdown pass from Cooper Rush. "I just told (offensive coordinator Scott) Linehan the play before to give me the 9 route and we would score a touchdown," Lenoir said. "He gave it to me so I had to come up big and make the play. That's what I've been trying to do every day – just bring it every day and be consistent."
- A day after his best practice of camp, rookie corner Chavarius Ward was in coverage on arguably the best play of camp: Tavon Austin's touchdown grab off Ward's helmet. "He made a hell of a catch," Ward said. "He went over the top of me and got me. I've just got to get more grit and get more competitive when the ball is in the air. He's a vet and just made a great play."
- Defensive end Taco Charlton limped off early in practice and was examined by head athletic trainer Jim Maurer. He returned a few minutes later and recorded a would-be sack around the left edge.
- Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick did not participate in team drills as part of his scheduled rest day.
- Starting cornerback Chidobe Awuzie was on the field for individual drills but sat out team work. Awuzie hurt his knee in Saturday's practice but appears to be fine. He wore a sleeve on his knee Sunday.
- With Awuzie sitting out, Anthony Brown moved to first-team left corner and made a spectacular leaping interception of Prescott that would have been returned for a touchdown.
- After missing multiple kicks in the previous two practices, Dan Bailey connected on both of his attempts Sunday.
- Rookie defensive end Dorance Armstrong and new defensive tackle Jihad Ward continued to show pass rush ability in one-on-one drills, winning multiple battles against the offensive linemen.
- The final 10 minutes was dedicated to a scrimmage-like, full-contact segment for the young players. Trey Williams had a pair of nice runs, but rookie Mike White lost a snap and threw an interception. Rookies Kam Kelly and Kyle Queiro each had takeaways.