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Tues. Practice Recap: Tyron's Back "Not Alarming," Smith Brothers Shine

OXNARD, Calif. – Tyron Smith was once against absent from practice on Tuesday, as he is dealing with some lower back tightness.

That's a recurring theme from last season, as the All-Pro left tackle battled back issues throughout the 2016 season. But Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said the time off was mainly to give Smith a chance to rest – not something he considered a big concern.

"We just think the best thing to do is rest it, but it's not something that's alarming in any way," Jones said. "It did tighten up, but I've got to emphasize that it's not alarming."

If rest is what Smith needs, he should get it over the remainder of this week. The Cowboys are off on Wednesday while they travel to Canton, Ohio, for the Hall of Fame Game. It seems like a safe bet that Smith isn't going to play in the game, and then he'll have another day off before the team practices on Saturday.

"He wasn't able practice yesterday or today, but he'll have a little time off here in the next two days," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "Hopefully he responds the right way."

Smith had issues with his back last year, missing two games and regularly featuring on the injury report during the season. Garrett said he didn't think this problem is related to last year, but it makes sense to give the Pro Bowler some time off.

"I don't know if it's necessarily related, but his back was bothering him a little bit – it was tight," Garrett said. "So we'll just take it day by day and see how he responds."

-- David Helman

  • If Monday's practice had low energy, then the Cowboys compensated for it Tuesday morning. The early practice saw the annual goal line drills, which featured some of the only live tackling of the entire training camp. "It was spirited, it was physical. It was competitive. It was really what we're looking for," Jason Garrett said. "We worked some different situations, regarding some goal line and some end-of-game situations. The guys responded really well."
  • The goal line period featured eight total reps, with the offense claiming six wins. The first-team offense and defense went at it four times, with the offense winning three times. The second-team offense and defense saw the same results. Ezekiel Elliott sat out of the live tackling, so Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris each scored rushing touchdowns in his place. But the real star of the show was Rod Smith – who the coaches plugged into the lineup for three rushing touchdowns on the day.
  • Ryan Switzer and Maliek Collins both did conditioning work with the Cowboys' athletic training staff on Tuesday. Neither player is ready to return to practice, but it was encouraging to see them working back toward it.
  • Having said that, Switzer and Collins will both be left off the trip to Canton, Ohio, for the Hall of Fame Game. Jason Garrett also said David Irving, Justin Durant and Jourdan Lewis will stay back in California to recover from injuries.
  • Sam Irwin-Hill got an opportunity to attempt a long field goal in full-team reps on Tuesday. Dan Bailey is the only kicker currently on the roster, and it's a good bet that the coaching staff doesn't want to wear out his leg during training camp. It will be interesting to see if Irwin-Hill gets any reps at kicker during the Hall of Fame Game.

Notable Standouts

Rod Smith –As mentioned above, Smith shined during the goal line portion of practice. Smith is gigantic by football standards, as he's listed at 6-3 on the roster. He used every bit of that size to score on three separate occasions down on the goal line, against live tackling. Even more impressive than that – it honestly didn't look that hard for the young ball carrier. Where Darren McFadden was fighting to cross the goal line, Smith was bulldozing people and reaching the end zone with room to spare. It's still early in camp, but to say Smith is making an impression would be an understatement.

Jaylon Smith –If one brother is going to make the list, we might as well include the other. Jaylon Smith practiced, fully padded, for the fourth time at this training camp, one again doing a little bit more each time. The most impressive part about Tuesday's work was that the coaches allowed him into the goal line drills, ensuring that he'd be part of the live contact. The young linebacker continues to handle himself well, making gradual progress all the while. Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones might have said it best on Tuesday morning: "I think you're seeing what we're seeing – you're seeing a progression. There's no question – he's getting better every time he goes out.

Charles Tapper – Last year's fourth-round pick looks healthy coming off the back injury that sidelined him in 2016. He was explosive off the snap in the one-on-one and two-on-two drills, working with Tyrone Crawford to get past Kadeem Edwards around the edge. Tapper's quick first step is noticeable in these practices; now it's just a matter of putting together his pass rush moves and finishing plays.

Play of the Day

It's understandable that fans want to know about rookie safety Xavier Woods, given that the Cowboys traded up in the sixth round to make sure they drafted him. Woods hasn't done anything wrong during this past week of practice, but there just hasn't been a lot to report, truth be told.

Woods changed that on Tuesday during the Compete Period, when Jason Garrett matched him up against tight end Connor Hamlett.

Hamlett ran a shallow out route off the line, trailed closely by Woods. As the quarterback delivered the ball, Woods showed great instincts to dive out and swat it away – despite Hamlett making his best effort to box the safety out with his larger frame. It was a great display of coverage from the rookie defensive back.

Unofficial Injury Report

Missed Practice:

T Tyron Smith (back)
LS L.P. Ladouceur (rest)
DT Maliek Collins (hip)
LB Justin Durant (elbow/NFI)
WR Ryan Switzer (hamstring)
OT Chaz Green (shoulder)
DE David Irving (ankle)
CB Jourdan Lewis (hamstring)

Returned To Practice:

RB Darren McFadden (rest)
TE Jason Witten (rest)
WR Dez Bryant (rest)
CB Orlando Scandrick (rest)
LB Sean Lee (rest)
DL Tyrone Crawford (rest)
LB Jaylon Smith (rest)

Upcoming Schedule

Thursday, Aug. 3

5 p.m. (PDT) – Preseason kickoff vs. Arizona Cardinals (Canton, Ohio)


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