OXNARD, Calif. – It's not as if Tony Romo didn't get any work during the Cowboys annual Blue-White Scrimmage. The veteran quarterback got plenty of reps throughout the afternoon, whether it was situational football, two-minute drill or seven-on-seven.
Still, it was hard to ignore the spotlight on the two backup quarterbacks, Dak Prescott and Jameill Showers, during their closest taste to real football so far this season.
"They were in different situations, some red zone and two minutes stuff that I thought, again, I thought they handled it really well," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "Not perfect, but they played with a good demeanor. There was a poise and a calm to their presence that I really thought was pretty good and they will certainly grow from it."
Prescott continued in his role as the Cowboys' backup quarterback. And with team executive vice president Stephen Jones saying Sunday evening that there's no update on the search for a veteran backup, the rookie quarterback looks set to continue getting those valuable reps.
"I really am more encouraged after this on holding pat on a veteran than before this," said Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones. "As we go along, if we continue to see this kind of improvement and this kind of instinct, then we look really comfortable back there."
With Prescott receiving the bulk of the backup work, Showers had the actual scrimmage portion of practice all to himself. The Cowboys allowed for live contact during the final 15 minutes of practice, giving Showers an opportunity at 15 or 16 reps up and down the field.
"I haven't watched the tape but he has poise. He plays with composure," Garrett said. "He knows what to do, and I think he's getting the ball out of his hand more quickly because he's more confident. He's seen the looks. I thought he handled himself well."
It's an incredibly safe bet that Tony Romo isn't going to play much – if at all – on Saturday when the Cowboys play the Rams at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Given that fact, Sunday served as an encouraging audition for both young quarterbacks before the real games begin.
- No one faced a steeper challenge than the Cowboys' defensive line on Sunday. Tyrone Crawford, Terrell McClain, DeMarcus Lawrence and Ryan Russell all sat out of practice with various ailments. New signee Shaneil Jenkins wasn't ready to participate. Benson Mayowa and Maliek Collins are still on the PUP. That left quite a depleted line to go through such a physical practice. That meant that only eight of the 17 defensive linemen the team has in camp were available for practice. And of those eight, only four players participated in the scrimmage. The foursome of Lawrence Okoye, Rodney Coe, Zach Wood and David Irving played the entire scrimmage with no breaks.
- The offense dealt with some limitations, as well. With Ezekiel Elliott sitting out, the trio of Alfred Morris, Darius Jackson and Rod Smith did all the work at running back. Jackson and Smith took all the live, full-contact reps during the scrimmage portion of practice.
- Stephen Jones covered several topics with reporters at the conclusion of practice. Asked about the injured duo of Maliek Collins and Benson Mayowa, Jones said the two had a shot to return to practice before the Cowboys leave California on Aug. 18.
- Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley got plenty of work with the first-team offense. But the scrimmage portion of practice afforded plenty of opportunities to the lower end of the depth chart. Andy Jones, Rodney Smith and Ed Eagan all had multiple opportunities to showcase themselves in the full-team portions of practice.
Geoff Swaim –The second-year tight end continues to put together a solid camp. Most importantly, he continues to prove himself as a reliable option for both Dak Prescott and Jameill Showers. Swaim featured heavily during practice, hauling in multiple catches across the field. With Gavin Escobar and James Hanna both sitting out of the day's activities, Swaim had all the opportunities he could possibly want.
Andy Jones –It's easy for receivers to stand out at training camp, given the amount of opportunities they get – whether it's 1-on-1, 7-on-7 or full-team reps. That said, Jones consistently makes the most of the opportunities he gets. Prescott and Showers both looked for him often, and he showed his steady hands and ability to work himself open.[embeddedad0]
Sean Lee –The defensive captain set the tone for the Dallas defense – as he always does, whether it's Week 1 of training camp or Week 8 of the regular season. Lee popped Jason Witten on the first play from scrimmage, and he was consistently in on the action – laying the wood on Alfred Morris, among others.
Play of the Day
We've been waiting for Tony Romo and Dez Bryant to connect on a truly memorable play, and it happened during the two-minute drill on Sunday. Romo guided the offense downfield with throws to Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley. Then, from about the 33-yard line, he dropped back and hoisted a deep ball. Bryant faked Brandon Carr out of his shoes with a stutter-go and was several steps behind the coverage. He made an easy catch and the end zone and threw up the "X" – not just for the fans in attendance, but right in the secondary's faces.
Unofficial Injury Report
TE Gavin Escobar (rest)
CB Orlando Scandrick (rest)
DE DeMarcus Lawrence (rest)
DT Cedric Thornton (illness)
DE Ryan Russell (n/a)
WR Devin Street (back)
LB Andrew Gachkar (thumb)
DT Tyrone Crawford (back)
DT Terrell McClain (toe)
QB Kellen Moore (fibula)
LB Kyle Wilber (back)
DT Maliek Collins (foot; Active/PUP)
DE Benson Mayowa (knee; Active/PUP)
RB Darren McFadden (elbow; Active/NFI)
RB Lance Dunbar (knee; Active/PUP)
LB Jaylon Smith (knee; Active/NFI)
LB Damien Wilson (eye; Active/NFI)
TE James Hanna (knee; Active/PUP)
Returned to Practice:
CB Brandon Carr (rest)
OT Doug Free (rest)
DE Lawrence Okoye (elbow)
Aug. 2 – Signed LB James Morris (Iowa).
Aug. 3 – Signed DE Gerald Dixon (South Carolina); waived/injured OT Darryl Baldwin and S Rolan Milligan.
Aug. 7 –Signed DE Shaneil Jenkins