OXNARD, Calif. – Typically, when Byron Jones gets mentioned, it's a conversation about ballhawking and nabbing interceptions – those are the expectations of the athletic young safety.
Jones got to show off the other side of that job description on Tuesday, though, as he found himself in the thick of the hitting during the Cowboys' goal line drills.
"It was our first time doing goal line, and it was full-go – they let us go full go," Jones said. "It's easier for defenders, because we don't got to worry about keeping runners up. It worked out for us. I think the offense scored twice, and we stopped them three times."
The Cowboys ran eight total live reps on the goal line, with five of those going to the first team. It's fair to say the defense came out on top, with five wins to the offense's three.
On two of those, it was Jones who sped toward the line of scrimmage and laid hits that helped keep the offense out of the end zone.
"If you're on defense, you've got to know how to tackle," he said. "Regardless if you're a safety, corner or nickel – learn how to tackle, know how to tackle."
There were some bright spots for the offense. Alfred Morris scored on the first two snaps to give them two of their wins. Jameill Showers also rolled out and fired a touchdown pass to Austin Traylor.
But for a defense that takes so much criticism, it had to be encouraging to see them step up and answer the call – headlined by Jones' physicality.
- Dak Prescott was the first-team quarterback with Tony Romo sitting out of practice, and he enjoyed one of his more consistent days of practice thusfar. In the two-minute drill at the tail end of practice, Prescott went 5-for-5 in guiding the offense downfield for a field goal. The kick came with nine seconds remaining in the period – which seemed like plenty of time for Prescott to try for a touchdown. But Dan Bailey delivered instead.
- Legendary boxer and Golden Boy Promotions chairman and CEO Oscar De La Hoya met the media with Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones. On Saturday, Sept. 17, AT&T Stadium will host the WBO junior middleweight world championship bout between Canelo Alvarez and Liam Smith. Undefeated fighters Joseph Diaz, Jr. and Jason Quigley also attended practice; both are confirmed to participate on the undercard for what Jones believes will be a sellout audience at AT&T Stadium. "The fans in Dallas will be in for a treat," De La Hoya said. "It's going to be exciting, and we're going to pack the house and it's going to be a lot of fun. … (AT&T Stadium) is the best stadium in the country and Canelo is the best fighter on the planet today. When you have the best and the best, you can't go wrong." De La Hoya also spoke to the team after Tuesday's practice. "The thing that Oscar brought and brings to sport and boxing, if we could instill that in our team – how to prepare and fight adversity – then we've had a good day of practice, a good week of practice and a good trip to California," Jones said. Golden Boy Promotions and the Cowboys have pledged to donate a percentage of proceeds from the event to a charity selected by the Dallas Police Department and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) in the wake of the July 7 tragedy in Dallas.
- Darius Jackson doesn't get a lot of credit for his speed, but he clearly has some. Working with the second-team offense, Jackson broke through the line on a rep and housed a touchdown. It's obviously tough to judge a running play in a half-contact practice, but Jackson sped past the secondary, and it's doubtful he would've been caught.
- The Cowboys' coaches love to place their players in competitive situations, which is bound to bring out some passion. That was the case in the Compete Period, when Terrance Williams caught a hotly-contested slant against Morris Claiborne. Williams came away with the ball, but Claiborne was severely unhappy at the amount of grabbing that happened during the route. The jawing went back and forth for several minutes after the play.
- Tony Romo notably sat out of practice, but the Cowboys returned several injured players to the fold. Cedric Thornton, Terrell McClain, Tyrone Crawford and Kyle Wilber all returned to action in some capacity.
Kavon Frazier –The sixth-round rookie has been quiet during the first half of training camp, but he showed up in a big way during the goal line reps. Frazier was big on two different stops for the backups. He made a nice tackle on Keith Smith in the flat to prevent a touchdown. He also flew in from his safety position to help make another tackle short of the end zone.
James Morris –Throw this unsung player into the mix with Frazier. One thing that has stood out about Morris during his brief time in camp is his physicality. He had an uncanny knack for finding the football during the live portion of the Blue-White Scrimmage on Sunday, and that proved to be true again on the goal line. Morris was in on back-to-back tackles to stop Rod Smith short of the goal line.
Jason Witten –Geoff Swaim has established a noticeable rapport with the backup quarterbacks. But without Tony Romo in the huddle, Witten showed off his ability to mesh quickly with the young guys. Witten was Prescott's safety valve all afternoon, making himself available for multiple receptions underneath. He got out of bounds on his last catch to help the offense set up its field goal in the two-minute drill. He also completely baffled Byron Jones on a double-move during the Compete Period.
Play of the Day
It was already mentioned earlier in the recap, but Kavon Frazier deserves some applause for his stop of Keith Smith during the goal line reps. Smith broke out into the flat and was ready for a quick throw from Jameill Showers. Frazier had the route covered, but he gives up roughly 15 pounds to the 232-pound Smith. It wasn't a devastating tackle by any means, but the rookie did a nice job of wrapping up and holding on to keep the fullback out of the end zone – and he did so without any help.
Unofficial Injury Report
QB Tony Romo (rest)
RB Ezekiel Elliott (hamstring)
LB Andrew Gachkar (thumb)
QB Kellen Moore (fibula)
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:
TE Gavin Escobar (rest)
CB Orlando Scandrick (rest)
DE DeMarcus Lawrence (rest)
DT Cedric Thornton (illness)
LB Kyle Wilber (back)
DE Ryan Russell (knee)
WR Devin Street (back)
DT Terrell McClain (toe)
DT Tyrone Crawford (back)
Wednesday, August 10
12:15 p.m. (PDT) Coach Garrett press conference
3:45 p.m. (PDT) Practice
Thursday, August 11
10:45 a.m. (PDT) Practice
12:15 p.m. (PDT) Coach Garrett press conference
5:00 p.m. (PDT) Walk through