Quarterback Dak Prescott got a lot of attention in the off-season when executive vice president Stephen Jones compared him to Hall of Famer Troy Aikman in his discipline as a quarterback and how he likes to go through his reads and for his receivers to be where they are supposed to be.
Coach Jason Garrett also compared to Prescott to Aikman as a leader and how he sacrifices himself for the team. It’s also no accident as Garrett has made a point to use his former teammate as an example when talking to Prescott.
“He is a great example,” Garrett said. “He is one of the greatest players who ever walked. A lot of it has to do with his ability. A lot of it has to do with his approach. He walks into the room. He commands the room, commands the huddle. He doesn’t suffer fools wisely. He just locks in on what he needs to do and everyone followed. That is what you are trying to instill.”
Here are four other observations from Day 2 of training camp in Oxnard.
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2. Running back Ezekiel Elliott showed his growing maturity and leadership at the end of a drill Friday when running backs coach Gary Brown was ready to move on and Elliott asked to do it once more.
“I just thought at the time it was something we needed to work on, a good drill and an extra rep that the younger guys needed who haven’t been here that long,” Elliott said. “I just got in his ear and told him, we need one more.”
3. Tavon Austin was billed to be a running back and receiver when the Cowboys signed him. But he has played mainly receiver the first few days of camp and taken a lot of reps with the first team offense alongside Cole Beasley and Allen Hurns with Terrance Williams being brought along slowly due to his off-season foot surgery. It speaks to the team having big plans on using Austin. The lineup of diminutive Beasley and Austin on the outside with the taller Hurns in the slot is certainly interesting. Hurns said he played primarily slot in Jacksonville. But it allows the Cowboys to be more unpredictable and potentially more explosive.
4. The Cowboys like starting first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch at second team middle linebacker because it allows him to call plays. Sean Lee calls plays with the first team with Jaylon Smith going first at middle linebacker. Vander Esch is getting as many reps as Smith at middle linebacker. But he gets a better grasp of the defense with the second team because he gets to call all the signals. Interestingly enough, the Cowboys plan to rotate all three at the weakside and middle linebacker slots. When Vander Esch and Smith are on the field, Smith will play the middle with Vander Esch playing the weakside spot. Also look for Smith to be used more as a blitzer from the middle.
5. Former Cowboys running back Phillip Tanner is one of three minority coaching fellows with the team in training camp. Tanner, who last played with the team in 2014, is serving as an assistant special teams coach. Tanner was the offensive coordinator at Dallas Kimball High School when he got the call from Garrett just a few weeks before the start of training camp. He said it was an exciting opportunity he couldn’t turn down. Tanner has annually helped Garrett with his camp at Princeton and clearly made an impression.