The Dallas Cowboys had a light practice day on Tuesday as the team gears up for Thursday’s preseason opener at the San Francisco 49ers.
Coach Jason Garrett sensed that his team was tired during Monday’s practice and to go with two walk-through practices on Tuesday. It was supposed to be a full padded practice in the morning but the Cowboys went with just jerseys and helmets.
“Typically when you get to this part of training camp, you have some discussions about which way you want to go based on the work we have,” Garrett said. “We wanted to make it a lighter practice. We just decided to go ahead and do it without our helmets and just jerseys.”
Here are four other observations from Tuesday:
1. The practice switch up didn’t make for good television for NFL Network and ESPN who both had crews on the field to broadcast live from Cowboys training camp Tuesday. It still turned out to be an old home week for two of the analysts, former Cowboys receivers Michael Irvin and Keyshawn Johnson, working for the NFL Network and ESPN, respectively. Both took a particular interest in the Cowboys passing game and revamped receiver corps, minus Dez Bryant. And both left wondering if the Cowboys have enough talent to help Prescott make plays down the field.
2. It was interesting listening to Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner interview Prescott along with Irvin on the NFL Network. Warner also wonders whether the Cowboys have given Prescott enough help in the passing with the departures of Bryant and tight end Jason Witten. He wondered if Prescott had anyone he trusted yet to go to on 3rd and 6 when he needed a first down as he often did to Witten and Bryant in the past. Surprisingly, Prescott listed receiver Cole Beasley as the person he would trust to target in those situations right now based on their past success. Of course, Irvin pointed out that much of Beasley’s ‘s success came in the past because team’s work focused on Bryant and Witten. It has yet to be proven if he can get open and be that guy as the focal point of the attack.
3. Prescott’s ability to throw the deep ball has been questioned since his rookie season. It remains a question now. He said on the NFL Network that he is excited about the deep speed of Tavon Austin and Deonte Thompson and has fun airing it out them in practice. But he also acknowledged they have yet to make consistent connections if any, and it remains a work in progress.
Coach Jason Garrett followed up with the media, saying that Prescott is a good deep ball throwing and has made some big connections down the field in his career. He said something that Prescott has to continue to work on. But Garrett also pointed out that you don’t need a big arm to be a good deep ball thrower. He said the average distance in the air of a straight go route in the NFL was 42 yards. He said the key is reading the defense, throwing with anticipation and having a guy who can catch it on the other end.
“It’s more about recognizing when there’s opportunity, having good feet underneath you, delivering a ball that’s catchable to the guy that you have,” Garrett said. “Typically good deep ball throwers have good deep ball receivers, whether it’s speed or stature, to be able to finish the play on the other end.”
Do the Cowboys have someone to finish on the other end?
4. Tight end will be a position on focus against the 49ers on Thursday as the Cowboys continue to find a replacement for Witten. Geoff Swaim is the most experience the group and is the current leader in the clubhouse because of abilities as a blocker and a receiver. But all eyes will be on Blake Jarwin, rookie Dalton Schultz and Rico Gathers.
“I think it’s been good,” Garrett said. Each of those guys has strengths that you want to feature and they’re working on the things maybe that don’t come quite so easily to them. None of them are overly experienced. Geoff Swaim is the most experienced guy that we have. He’s had a really good camp. But there’s good competition. What you’re looking is for those guys just to show up and take advantage of their opportunities, as blockers, as receivers. They’re all very capable physically. They just need to play. They’ve done a good job learning from their experiences, learning from their reps. Thursday night it will be fun to see those guys play.”
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