Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence didn’t practice Thursday because of a veteran’s day off. But there was something from Wednesday’s practice that stands out about him that must be shared.
It was an example of why the Cowboys don’t worry about Lawrence building on last season’s breakout season when he had 14.5 sacks and why they trust he will be worthy of a long-term contract extension after the season.
He has great football character and wants to be great, which was evidenced in practice on Wednesday when he took a rep in pass rush drills against each of the five starting offensive linemen, including Pro Bowlers Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick. The Cowboys coaches certainly took note.
“I thought it was good,” coach Jason Garrett said. “I have seen versions of that through the years. DeMarcus is one of our leaders up front on the defensive line. He loves ball. He works very hard at it. He loves to rush the passer. He just wanted to get in those situations. I think he was trying to make a point to himself and the rest of the guys. It was competitive. It was good. I think we benefited from that.”
Here are four other things from Thursday’s practice:
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1. The defense again got the better of the offense, which still hasn’t scored a touchdown practice with the starters. At some point, it is going to be time to give the defense some credit. Cornerbacks Byron Jones and Chido Awuzie have been two of the top performers in training camp. They have given up nothing deep. Most of the receptions have been underneath throws. The highlight for the defense and the low light for the offense were the last two team periods of practice. Dak Prescott was incomplete on all six. Brown and Jones had two pass deflections each. The competitive 7-on-7 period in the red zone was just as disappointing. Prescott was seven for eight passing but everything was underneath and nothing was in the end zone, save for the last pass in which he bought time to find a crossing Terrance Williams on the back line after no one was open early. Considering it was 7-on-7 and there was no pass rush, the play was unrealistic and shouldn’t count.
2. Safety Kavon Frazier was allowed to practice for the first time after being sidelined since the start of camp after a blood disorder scare. The Cowboys were alarmed about an initial blood test and was wary about him having a disorder that could prevent his blood from clotting if he were to suffer an injury. More tests were done and exactly a week after the Cowboys held their first practice, Frazier was allowed to put on pads with the rest of his teammates. He said he has to watch what he eats and take some extra vitamins but he is good to go, and there are no long-term concerns about the blood tests. Now, it’s a matter of catching up to speed and putting pressure on Jeff Heath for the starting spot at strong safety.
3. Rookie defensive Dorance Armstrong is quietly having a strong camp. Armstrong, a fourth-round pick from Kansas, took advantage of the absences of DeMarcus Lawrence, Taco Charlton and Charles Tapper to get extra reps. He got put in the spotlight with a matchup against right tackle La’el Collins in the compete drill and built on his strong start to camp with a win in front of the team.
Guard Zack Martin handled defensive tackle Jihad Ward in the compete and defensive tackle Datone Jones got a push against center Travis Frederick. Jones won the first rep but coach Jason Garrett called a do-over and Frederick won the second time.
4. The list of players who didn’t participate in practice Thursday was lengthy with linebacker Sean Lee, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and tackle Tyron Smith had veteran rest days. Receivers Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson and Noah Brown were out with leg strains. The Cowboys were being cautious with them. Charlton has an injured shoulder and Tapper was out sick for the second straight day. Guard Marcus Martin is out of shape and is being held out for conditioning. Running back Trey Williams was released one day after muffing three punts in practice.
Clarence E. Hill Jr. :@clarencehilljr