Fights usually occur a few weeks into camp when players are tired of pounding against each other. So it was unusual for the Dallas Cowboys to be involved in three skirmishes just the second day into padded practices.
But that’s what occurred on Thursday. Coach Jason Garrett and owner Jerry Jones like the spirit showed by the players. Garrett said he would rather have to calm them down than have to ramp them up.
Here are five takeways from practice:
1 Quarterback Dak Prescott did not throw an interception in OTAs or minicamp. He has three in the last two days of training camp, including a Pick-6 from cornerback Anthony Brown during team work on Thursday. Brown picked off Tony Romo on the first day of camp as a rookie last year, making his presence felt. Thursday’s pick of a overthrown ball was a continuation of Brown making a good early impression. While there has been a lot talk about the rookie cornerbacks, Brown, a sixth-round pick from a year ago, is playing as well and with as much confidence as anyone in the secondary.
2 Speaking of rookie cornerbacks, second-round pick Chidobe Awuzie has shown a knack for making plays with two picks in the first two days of padded practices. He is a player the Cowboys want to get on the field. If he continues to make plays, its going to be hard not to find a place for him.
3 While the offensive and defensive lines were getting into tussles, it should be noted that tackle La’el Collins likes to manhandle pass rushers. He threw defensive end Charles Tapper around like a rag doll a couple of times during the pass rush drill. That nasty attitude by an offensive lineman can be contagious. Nobody was fighting with Collins after the play. Nobody messes with Tyron Smith either, as he routinely disrespects the defender by blocking him without seemingly breaking a sweat.
4 Running back Rod Smith is quietly splitting reps with Alfred Morris as the third-team back behind Ezekiel Elliott and Darren McFadden. For the record, running backs coach Gary Brown said there are just rotating. But considering Morris’ experience, the fact that Smith has pulled even with him is clear evidence the team has plans for Smith. He is a better special teams player than Morris and would seem to be a better fit for a game day roster spot. Smith is a good runner and blocker as well.
5 As if the Cowboys didn’t need any more Lucky Whitehead irony. Receiver Ryan Switzer, the rookie draft pick who made Whitehead expendable as the team’s primary punt returner, left practice Thursday with a hamstring injury. The Cowboys don’t know how long he will be out. But the team is already down one receiver with the departure of Whitehead. They have decided against replacing that roster spot with a receiver, going with running back Ronnie Hillman. Now they could be in the market for a receiver again, depending on the seriousness of Switzer’s injury.
DT Maliek Collins (hip flexor): Day to day.
WR Ryan Switzer (hamstring): Day to day.
LB Justin Durant (Non-football injury): Day to day.
DT Richard Ash (Physically unable to perform): Day to day.
“You can’t take it so personal. Everybody is going to have that edge and that chip on their shoulder. You realize the smart ones know how to dial back and not waste energy and do something stupid and possibly hurt themselves.”
Defensive end Damontre Moore on his history of getting in fights in practice, which partly derailed his career in previous stints with Oakland and New York.
Aug. 3 vs. Arizona (NBC)*, 7 p.m.
Aug. 12 at Los Angeles Rams (NFL Network), 8 p.m.
Aug. 19 vs. Indianapolis (NFL Network), 6 p.m.
Aug. 26 vs. Oakland, 7 p.m.
Aug. 31 at Houston, 7 p.m.
* Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio