The Dallas Cowboys had their first day in pads on Saturday following a reserved training camp opening ceremony from owner Jerry Jones. Rather than fire up the crowd with promises of a championship, Jones said, “Let’s get these Cowboys ready to compete for a Super Bowl.”
The fireworks are going to have to come on the practice field.
Here are five things we learned on the first day.
1. Quarterback Dak Prescott had an average first day in pads. He completed 7 of 11 passes in team and 7-on-7 with an interception to Byron Jones on an under-thrown deep pass to Deonte Thompson. The highlight of his day was a pass to Cole Beasley on the sideline when he caught the defense offside and kept the play alive before throwing a perfect strike.
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“That wasn’t the route I had but when we draw an offside we want to get the big play,” Beasley said. “I was running and I saw out of the corner of my eye him move his arm. I figured he was telling me to stop so I stopped and we were right on the same page. That is the kind of stuff you need to work on. That happens in the game. Any time you get cheap chunks like that you have to take it. He put it right where it needed to be. It was a perfect ball.”
Outside of a deep in route to Michael Beasley, all Prescott’s other throws were short routes to the tight ends or receivers on a slant.
2. On the flipside, cornerback Byron Jones getting an interception in the first padded practice of training camp after moving over from safety in the off-season should be cause for a small celebration. Certainly, secondary coach Kris Richard enjoyed it as he met Jones with a big hug.
“It feels nice to get out there and make the play,” Jones said. “It was a little under-thrown. But I made the play. The ball was coming right at my head I said ‘why not catch it, let’s make some fun.’”
Jones allowed a catch to Michael Gallup later in practice. He said his goal is to be more consistent. He thought the defense did not play with enough energy on Saturday and says they plan on raising the intensity on Sunday.
3. Getting back to receiver Cole Beasley, his day also qualified as a bright spot. He had five catches and a couple of runs on the end around.
Beasley said he feels much healthier than he did at the start of camp last year when he was nursing hamstring issues, giving him a chance to get a good start on a season where he hopes to bounce back from a down year in 2017.
“This is the best I have felt in a long time, maybe ever,” Beasley said. “I’m running real well. It’s like night and day from this time last year.”
The Cowboys put him to work early and often.
“I was actually saying I never had a practice like this before,” Beasley said. “I got a little fatigued. I’m used to doing all the quick stuff. Now they got me all over the place, running all types of routes; it’s really fun.”
4. Defensive end Taco Charlton is going to be an interesting watch in training camp this year after the 2016 first-round pick had a disappointing season as a rookie. He is bringing a lot of confidence into Year 2 and has even nicknamed the defensive line the Hot Boys.
But Charlton didn’t take it to the field on the first day in pads. He got blocked twice early in a drill by tight end Blake Jarwin, pointing at his chest, saying “my bad.” He was pancaked by Chaz Green while asking for a flag. But he did get revenge on Green by getting by him for a sack.
5. With the defensive line naming themselves the Hot Boys, guard Joe Looney said the offensive line should be called the Fat Boys. They should be called the wall of granite if the first day in pads was an indication. Center Travis Frederick pancaked defensive tackle Brian Price. In the compete drill in front of the team, tackle Tyron Smith beat defensive end Tyrone Crawford, Frederick handled defensive tackle Dante Jones and left guard Zack Martin handled defensive tackle Jihad Ward.
The one time Tyron Smith got beat by defensive end Kony Ealy, he asked for a redo of the drill and then handled him with ease.