DENVER – Thursday's joint practice against the Denver Broncos went about as expected: competitive and at times heated in blistering outdoor conditions at the Broncos' practice facility.
The DallasCowboys.com writers give their impressions of the Cowboys' first work against another team since training camp began:
Nick Eatman: My overall takeaway was more about the energy. It's always hard to tell who wins certain drills and reps. Sometimes the fans are cheering because a Denver receiver is down the field with the ball after a 30-yard catch, only to find out Micah Parsons had a "sack" back behind the line of scrimmage. But it did seem like the Broncos were interesting in ruffling the feathers of the Cowboys. We saw a lot of skirmishes here and there – and there could've been a few more but it was clear the Cowboys coaching staff had instructed the team not to react to every exchange. There's always a balance there because you don't want to see fight after fight but I thought the Broncos were a more physical team on both sides of the ball – especially at the line of scrimmage. Something to worry about? Definitely not for a practice, but it was something that stood out.
Rob Phillips: I saw more of the Cowboys' offense vs. the Broncos' defense than vice versa, so I'll focus there. I echo what Dak Prescott said afterward: the offense got better Thursday, because it's hard not to working against a talented group like Denver. The Broncos were physical up front and made it tough on the run game with varied pre-snap looks, though the Cowboys did create some space on certain plays. The first-team offense had success in the short passing game with some quick throws, and Prescott was able to hit some plays downfield to CeeDee Lamb and Noah Brown, who continues to be as impressive as any player in training camp. Some good, some bad, but overall it was quality work against one of the better defenses in the league.
Patrik Walker: It was an up-and-down day for the Cowboys in their scrimmage against the Broncos on Thursday, with players like Micah Parsons (!!), Tarell Basham and Dak Prescott leading the group of ups while those vying for the role of backup swing tackle join the crew of downs. And as the offensive line found itself struggling at times, the chippiness escalated, so at least you know they have a heartbeat and accompanying fire to improve. Zack Martin and Tyron Smith held their own, as usual, and Terence Steele wasn't perfect but showed strong improvement. That said, there are justifiable question marks about what happens when the starters aren't on the field. Josh Ball had a bad day at the office, and with rookie fifth-round pick Matt Waletzko unlikely to return any time soon, Ball has to start stringing together good days to convince the Cowboys he's a viable option in that role. There's good news to be had in assessing how well Noah Brown continues to perform for Dak Prescott, and Dennis Houston joins him in having an impressive camp - so maybe the Cowboys aren't in dire straits after all at wide receiver (caveat: no preseason games have been played yet).