Dallas Cowboys

These are the six players that impressed Jerry Jones at Dallas Cowboys training camp

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones acknowledges that hold out RB Ezekiel Elliott could miss games.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones acknowledges that hold out RB Ezekiel Elliott could miss games. Associated Press

As the Dallas Cowboys prepare to travel to Hawaii for Saturday’s preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams, owner Jerry Jones reflects on the last three weeks and what’s ahead, including some of the players who have impressed him the most.

“When (Rams owner) Stan Kroenke and I first started talking about this (game in Hawaii), we were hoping that we could have some more time there, maybe some practices against each other. That didn’t work out,” Jones said. “But it’s great to go over there with a real enthusiastic state of NFL fans. You really have a lot of Cowboys fans over there. We have a lot of communication with our fans in Hawaii. We have great players from that area that come to mind, but still, it will be fun for us.

“What is kind of sad is to be breaking camp. But we’ve got a group anxious to see us back in Dallas and we’re going to have some of this training camp at The Star and that’s going to be good for a lot more of our fans.”

Here are six Cowboys players Jones mentioned specifically by name:

DE Dorance Armstrong

A fourth-round pick in 2018, Armstrong took a huge step through the first two weeks of camp before leveling off a little. He is holding down the starting spot at left end until DeMarcus Lawrence returns from injury.

Jones comment: “I’ve liked Armstrong. The trick is, as a young player, is to get as much out of every day, every rep that you can. He’s really impressed me.”

DT Trysten Hill

The rookie second round pick started camp slow. He was carted off with dehydration on the first day of practice. Defensive line coach Rod Marinelli said he was in the caboose and the train was leaving the station.

Hill has improved and is running with the second team, but he has yet to flash anything spectacular.

Jones comment: “I like Trysten. I think he’s making the most of his opportunities. You certainly see going against the kind of competition he’s going against.”

LB Luke Gifford

The rookie undrafted free agent from Nebraska has turned heads since the start of camp and really impressed when he suffered a compound dislocation of a finger in practice last week, didn’t miss a day and had an interception in the preseason opener against the 49ers.

He suffered a high ankle sprain and will likely about until the start of the season. Is it enough to make the roster?

Jones comment: “I like the Nebraska linebacker. I think he’s showed up really good.”

RB Tony Pollard

The rookie fourth-round pick has been in the spotlight since the start of camp because of holdout running back Ezekiel Elliott’s absence. Jones has used the speedy Pollard’s impressive play as a bargaining chip in the Elliott negotiations. He was drafted to compliment Elliott’s bruising running ways. Can he carry the load if necessary?

Jones comment: “And certainly No. 36. I don’t want to put him on the spot, but you don’t have to be a trained eye to see he has a lot special. What is impressive is, I don’t know when I’ve seen a rookie come in and grasp his assignments and how to execute them. It’s one thing to basically understand it in the classroom. But to go out and execute it and execute it on a full speed level is impressive. He’ll go early for us. He’ll play early.”

C Travis Frederick

Frederick has had a normal camp after missing all of last season with Guillain-Barre syndrome. The Cowboys brought him along slowly. He has had no setbacks. Everything has been normal on the football field. There is no reason he shouldn’t return to his Pro Bowl-level of play. Joe Looney played solidly in his place but Frederick’s return takes the offensive line’s play to another level.

Jones comment: “Frederick, if you had to pick one thing about this camp that is different from last year’s camp, is to be sitting here in the frame of mind we are right now about Frederick. He’s singularly could make the biggest difference on this team.”

WR Jon’vea Johnson

This undrafted rookie free agent has turned heads since OTAs and minicamp because of his speed, explosiveness and quick understanding of the offense. He started out camp well but has had a case of the drops under the bright lights, first in the Blue-White scrimmage and then in the preseason opener. He looks more like a practice squad option than roster player at this point. But the Cowboys still like him, a lot.

Jones comment: “I like what we have seen from this 81, young receiver. I like what he is up to. I like the way he is competing. I like that some of the veteran players are giving him a big old vote of confidence. They like him. They think he is made of the right stuff.”

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.