Quarterback Dak Prescott celebrated his 25th birthday Sunday and was serenaded by fans before and after what was a very good practice for him. Owner Jerry Jones was also in a good mood.
In addition to saying, he was in the best health he’s been in five or six years along with having the enthusiasm of a 40-year old, Jones talked is the excitement of having a young team and even compared it to the 1992 Super Bowl title team.
“We’ve had the best years I’ve been involved with football with a young team,” Jones said. “We were the youngest team when we won the first Super Bowl I had a chance to be involved with, I can just sense it, I don’t know if it’s the fact that I know the numbers that it makes you feel that way, but still I can sense an enthusiasm.”
So you’re predicting a Super Bowl?
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“No. We’re preparing to compete for a Super Bowl,” said Jones, who refused to discuss the growing anthem controversy.
Here are five things from Day 2 in pads:
1. Let’s start with what caught the eye of owner Jerry Jones. And right off the bat, he brought up rookie top pick linebacker Leighton Vander Esch.
“He’s really as advertised,” Jones said. “He really knows how to get back in the route, he’s instinctive like that. Of course, he’s got a long way to go. Speaking of middle linebacker, No. 54 (Jaylon Smith) really made his blitz, bull rush and showed us what he’s capable of doing there. I liked those two today.”
Jones also like running back Ezekiel Elliott: “I just think he looks veteran-ish. I think he looks confident. I think he’s getting good hard work in. Fundamental work. He just looks sound to me. We were commenting on him today on that very aspect. He looks like he’s a veteran out here.”
2. The first fight of camp was between right tackle La’el Collins and defensive end Taco Charlton. Collins threw Charlton to the ground after getting the best of him in a pass-rush drill. Charlton jumped back up and Collins pushed him, which started a brief tussle. Coach Jason Garrett took advantage of the energy and had the two square off against each other in a pass rush in the compete drill in front of the team. Collins won that battle easily.
It was part of a spirited day at practice that also saw cornerback Jourdan Lewis talking trash to receiver Lance Lenoir after a play. “If you don’t want it to be physical, then don’t get physical,” Lewis exclaimed.
3. Quarterback Dak Prescott was much better and sharper on Day 2 in pads. He was 11 for 15 passing in team and seven on seven. The highlights were two chunk passes to Allen Hurns and tight end Blake Jarwin on two dimes from Prescott. He also had a screen to running back Ezekiel Elliott in team drills on his final play likely would have gone the distance. Prescott had more zip on the ball and pushed the ball further down the field than he did on Day. 1.
“I think just solid, down to business,” Jones said when asked about Prescott. “He had a great minicamp. He had great OTAs. He’s into it. I like what he’s doing. Now, we’re doing a lot of different things. Some of you may have seen it and noticed it. There’s a lot of different things being done out here. Some of the blocking that we’re doing and some of the things that he’s doing calling the blocking. That’s real good to see, I think. Dak is the key to all that, his ability to make the calls, read it before the snap, much less after the snap. He’s had a good offseason.
4. Rookie right guard Connor Williams got beat by defensive end/tackle Kony Ealy in a compete drill in front of the team. But that doesn’t take away from his impressive play so far in camp. Williams handled defensive tackles Richard Ash and Jihad Ward in pass rush drills and so far proven to be in natural fit with the veteran offensive line.
“Connor is someone who loves football,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s very passionate about it. He wants to learn. His ability to lock in and focus in meetings is really impressive. He’s just eating the words out of the coach’s mouth. I think he’s one of those guys who really takes pride in being in that room, breaking the huddle with that offensive line. He’s trying to squeeze the blood out of the rock and take advantage of every opportunity he gets.”
5. Receiver Cole Beasley and cornerback Byron Jones continued their strong starts to training camp. Beasley has proven to be uncoverable, especially in one-on-one drills against the defensive backs. He faked cornerback Chido Awuzie off his feet a couple of times. Jones rallied after getting beat off the line by Lance Lenoir to make a diving deflection off a pass from quarterback Dak Prescott. Receiver Tavon Austin stood out not just because of his two receptions from Prescott but also the energy he brought during plays. It was Austin he was one encouraging his fellow receivers after every play whether he was involved or not. Austin said that is simply who is and what he brings, along with his blazing speed of course.
Jones said Austin is going to be “out there on the field a lot. The defense has to account for him and they don’t have to account for him if he’s not carrying the ball or receiving the ball. My point is he has to show that we’ll use him and he’ll give defenses a lot to worry about as a decoy, too.”