OXNARD, Calif. – If there's a jump ball, Dez Bryant's going to grab it.
Even with only three fingers on the football.
Bryant made the play of the day – and quite possibly the play of training camp – Thursday afternoon with a leaping fingertip touchdown catch in team drills. The Pro Bowl receiver outjumped Orlando Scandrick on a fade route in the corner of the end zone despite tight coverage by the veteran cornerback. Then he threw up the "X" with his offensive teammates amid a roar from the fans lining the fence at the River Ridge sports complex.
Was it his best catch over these two weeks of practice?
"I don't really rank them," Bryant said with a smile. "I just play."
As for Scandrick, the 10th-year veteran has been having an "excellent camp," head coach Jason Garrett said. Sometimes, as Garrett said, there's nothing a cornerback can do when he's in position to make the play but the opposing receiver makes an "outlandish catch."
"He caught it, man. He's a hell of a player," Scandrick said. "Would I have liked him not to catch it? Absolutely, but he caught it."
Said Bryant: "Scandrick's been balling. Scandrick is a true leader and I know he's been making me work hard and he's been making the rest of these guys work hard."
- X-Rays conducted on Brice Butler's injured foot came back negative on Thursday, which is a bit of good news on the injury front. Butler limped off the practice field Wednesday afternoon after hurting the foot on a contested catch, but the problem doesn't appear to be as serious as initially thought. It remains to be seen how long the injury will hold him out, though.
- Tyron Smith sat out of practice for a second consecutive day while he battles tightness in his back. Smith first started dealing with the problem last week, and the Cowboys are being careful not to exacerbate the problem. Jason Garrett declined to say that Smith would not return to practice until the Cowboys return home to Texas, but it's a safe bet the All-Pro tackle doesn't play against the Rams on Saturday night.
- With Smith sidelined, Emmett Cleary worked on the first-team at left tackle. Chaz Green also returned to the competitive portion of practice after missing time with a shoulder injury. Instead of working at left guard, where he had been playing, Green played as the second-team left tackle. Garrett said Green's versatility to play both guard and tackle makes him useful in that regard.
- Since Sean Lee didn't take part in practice, Jaylon Smith once again benefited. Anthony Hitchens moved into Lee's first-team WILL linebacker position, making way for Smith to play first-team MIKE linebacker. That marks back-to-back practices that Smith has played with the first-team defense.
Notable StandoutsCole Beasley –Beasley could go into this category on any given day, given how hard he is to guard. He was a nightmare for defensive backs to deal with throughout Thursday's practice. He dusted Duke Thomas in individual drills, and he did it again when Jason Garrett called their numbers in the Compete Period. Throughout training camp, Beasley has put on a clinic in short-area route running.
Jeff Heath --The frontrunner for a starting safety spot, Heath showed his coverage skills when he broke up a pass intended for Bryant, and on another play, arrived at the same time as Witten and prevented the veteran tight end from making the catch.
Dan Bailey --The veteran kicker deserves credit for 11 straight practices with perfect field goal attempts. He finally missed one in practice No. 12, pushing a 50-plus yarder a little to the right. For the second time in camp, he did make one from roughly 55 yards out.
Play of the Day
Any other day in camp, rookie receiver Brian Brown's one-handed touchdown grab in team drills would have been the catch of practice. Since we gave Bryant top billing earlier for his touchdown catch, Brown deserves recognition here for a terrific catch in the exact same spot moments later, leaping up to snatch the ball from cornerback Leon McFadden. Bryant and Cole Beasley, watching from the sideline, charged 20 yards downfield to be the first ones to congratulate their young teammate on the big play.
Unofficial Injury Report:
OT Tyron Smith (back)
WR Brice Butler (foot)
DT Cedric Thornton (hamstring)
DE Tyrone Crawford (ankle)
CB Marquez White (hamstring)
LB Justin Durant (NFI)
CB Jourdan Lewis (hamstring)
CB Anthony Brown (hamstring)
OG Joe Looney (toe)
WR Javontee Herdnon
LB Sean Lee (rest)
Returned to Practice:
OT Chaz Green (shoulder)
RB Darren McFadden (rest)
WR Dez Bryant (rest)
CB Orlando Scandrick (rest)
DE Taco Charlton (back)
Fri., Aug. 11 – players' day off