My thoughts from the final day of Cowboys training camp:
1. There was a buzz in the air that was something was up when the Cowboys moved up practice from 10:30 am to 9:15 with no mention of the previously scheduled afternoon practice. Of course, the Cowboys gave an indication that things would be shutting down early when they closed merchandise sales on Wednesday. No way Jerry Jones was missing a day of selling t-shirts if the Cowboys were going be out there practicing.
2. Jason Garrett finally let the cat out of the bag when he called the team together asked the players to nominate three offensive linemen and three defensive linemen to catch a punt from Chris Jones. If one on of the six players caught the punt then the Cowboys would go home early. Busses were already sitting outside camp headquarters ready to carry the players to the airport.
3. Defensive end Randy Gregory was first up to catch the punt and he was the most likely one to pull if off, considering his sleek build and athleticism. Gregory had not caught a punt since high school but he came through in the clutch, catching the ball before falling to the ground to make sure, resulting in the cheers from his teammates.
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4. Before Jason Garrett let the Cowboys off the hook they held a spirited final practice that ended with a little late-game situation. The Cowboys began at their own 27 needing at least a field goal to win the game. Quarterback Tony Romo did them one better, leading the offense the field, culminating with a perfect touchdown pass to receiver Cole Beasley right over the linebackers and in front of the safety. It was the final play of training camp, ending the month of workouts on a successful note.
5. The final touchdown, however, didn’t come without some resistance from the defense. Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence set the offense back early in the drive with a sack. And the final play came with a little controversy. Greg Hardy appeared to sack quarterback Tony Romo before he threw the ball to Beasley. Hardy and the defense fought for the sack. Romo said there was no sack. Garrett made the final call a touchdown.
6. Receiver Dez Bryant is expected to make is preseason debut against the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday. However, he left practice early on Thursday and didn’t return. Jason Garrett had no answer for Bryant’s departure.
7. The musical chairs at linebacker continued with Kyle Wilber working with the starters at strong side linebacker ahead of rookie Al Wilson, who had been manning the position the past two weeks. Wilber opened camp as the starter at strong side before being replaced by Andrew Gachkar before the preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers and then being moved to middle linebacker for the second preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers.
8. Linebacker Rolando McClain showed signs of progress on the final day of training camp as he did rehab with his shoulder pads on for the first time. McClain remains on the physically unable to perform list because of offseason knee surgery. He will miss the first four games of the season because of an NFL suspension. But he can practice with the team until the season starts. The Cowboys would like to get McClain some work with the team before he has to depart for the suspension.
9. Jason Garrett refuses to hide of his love for Bruce Springsteen. During practice Thursday, he motioned for a Cowboys employee to turn up the volume on “Born to Run” that was blaring through the loud speakers.
10. Defensive end Greg Hardy also got into the music as practice Thursday as he does every day. But who knew Hardy would catch the dancing bug listening to the Zac Brown Band?