OXNARD, Calif. –All football coaches want to see intensity and passion during a football practice. But sometimes, players can go overboard. Head coach Jason Garrett apparently thought so during Sunday's practice, sending three players to the locker room for a cooling-off period of about 10 minutes.
Tight end Rico Gathers and wide receiver Noah Brown both had separate incidents with linebacker Kyle Wilber in a span of about five minutes. Garrett told all three to get inside as they were escorted off by team security.
The Gathers-Wilber dustup occurred in a 1-on-1 compete drill with the entire team looking on. Wilber beat Gathers to the quarterback quickly but Gathers continued to shove the linebacker back into the rest of the team, causing the two to jaw at each other for several minutes.
"That's what my coaches tell me to do – finish the play through the whistle and that's what I did. After that it got a little heated," said Gathers, who slammed his helmet to the ground. "Oh yeah, that's just my way of calming myself down. I'm not trying to hit my teammates or anything. So I take it out on my helmet. My coaches don't agree with that and sent me into the locker room for about 10 minutes. I was able to come back and get back to work."
Brown and Wilber also had some words and Garrett sent them inside as well.
All three came back at the same time, but not before Garrett had a quick, stern message for them.
"He said, 'Just stay disciplined. Stay focused and get locked in.'" said Gathers, who caught a touchdown pass in the 7-on-7 drill.
- Through four padded practices, Byron Jones continues to be the biggest standout on defense. Jones made a rangy play as the centerfield free safety, running right to left and diving for an interception against quarterback Dak Prescott. Jones nearly picked off Prescott in Saturday's practice, too, but had one foot out of bounds near the goal line. Jones got his first interception last season but has focused diligently ways to improve his takeaways, even fielding fly balls with the minor-league Frisco Rough Riders just up the road from The Star in Frisco. "For this defense, we have to thrive on takeaways," he said. "We've got to give the ball back to the offense."
- Through four padded practices, Byron Jones continues to be the biggest standout on defense. Jones made a rangy play as the centerfield free safety, coming over the top running left to right and diving for an interception against Dak Prescott. The ball was intended for Dez Bryant, who had one-on-one coverage against Nolan Carroll, but Jones made a fantastic play to take the ball away from the offense. Jones nearly picked off Prescott in Saturday's practice, too, but had one foot out of bounds near the goal line. Jones got his first interception last season but has focused diligently ways to improve his takeaways, even fielding fly balls with the minor-league Frisco Rough Riders just up the road from The Star in Frisco. "For this defense, we have to thrive on takeaways," he said. "We've got to give the ball back to the offense."
- He gets lost in the shuffle a bit due to the amount of resources in the secondary, but Jameill Showers made a bit of a flash play on Sunday. Working with the third-team defense in full-team drills, Showers made a great read on a pass from Cooper Rush. The ball was intended for tight end Connor Hamlett over the middle, but Showers arrived at the same time as the pass and knocked it away. It was a solid bit of safety play from a guy who isn't mentioned much.
- Joey Ivie finally got into the mix after back problems limited him for much of the first week of practice. The coaches mixed him in with the third-team defense, where he seemed to have some solid snaps. But Ivie got a taste of life in the NFL when he drew Travis Frederick in one-on-one pass rush drills, where he was easily dispatched to the ground.
- The attendance for Sunday's practice was counted at 7,671 – which brings the total for this year's training camp to 28,249 so far.
Rod Smith –It's always hard to gauge running back plays during practices where tackling isn't allowed. But Smith continues to have an impressive edge to his game as the third-string running back. Day after day he has shown impressive vision and footwork in getting through the hole. That was rewarded on Sunday during the end-of-game portion of practice, with the offense working against the clock. Smith took an inside handoff from the 8-yard line and cut his way through the defense for a touchdown. Even without tackling, it was an obvious score – because Smith went virtually untouched.
Orlando Scandrick –The veteran cornerback continues to enjoy strong days of practice. Scandrick's best moment came in one-on-one drills against Cole Beasley – who has been nearly impossible to defend during training camp. Dak Prescott sent Beasley up the sideline with Scandrick matching him step-for-step. When the ball got to its destination, Scandrick took advantage of a bobbled ball, grabbing it mid-air and getting both feet down in bounds for a nice interception.
Byron Jones –Jones is mentioned elsewhere in the story, but his end zone interception of Prescott was one of the best plays we've seen since camp started. Jones made the absolute right read on the ball, and he made an unbelievably athletic play to get over the top and go get it. Dez Bryant said Jones has been working on his ball skills all offseason, and it has showed in his ability to come down with tough catches on back-to-back days.
Play Of The Day
It's fortunate that the coaching staff allowed Noah Brown back to practice after briefly sending him inside. Brown showed off his ability for game-breaking catches during the end-of-game portion of practice, with the offense facing a running clock. Playing for the second-team offense, Brown lined up wide right against Chidobe Awuzie and ran a go route from the 20-yard line. Kellen Moore looked for Brown immediately and tossed a floater toward the end zone. The throw drew attention from Kavon Frazier, who drifted over the top to help in coverage. But it didn't matter, as Brown boxed out Awuzie and drew in an impressive touchdown catch while falling to the ground.
Unofficial Injury Report:
DT Maliek Collins (hip)
LB Justin Durant (NFI)
WR Ryan Switzer (hamstring)
OT Chaz Green (shoulder)
DE David Irving (ankle)
CB Jourdan Lewis (hamstring)
Returned to Practice:
DT Joey Ivie
Monday, July 31
3:45 pm (PDT) – Practice