After seven long months, the Dallas Cowboys have begun training camp and football things are actually happening. There have been two padded and two non-padded practices so far in Oxnard, here are some observations (from afar).
Although not at camp, I have been watching the social media threads and videos posted by a number of the top reporters for the Cowboys.
Offensively, the biggest question for the team has been the receiving group, which includes the tight ends. Through the first few days of camp, the wide receivers have been impressive. Cole Beasley has been unstoppable and the team is now setting him up all over the line of scrimmage. Gone are the days of just putting him in the slot and watching him work, it looks like Beasley will be a much different weapon this season.
Beasley is hardly the only one who has made an impression. Free agent signee Allen Hurns has been great as well. There appears to be a nice chemistry developing between Hurns and Dak Prescott, and the Cowboys are using Hurns on the inside, as well as the outside. The offense will be much harder to predict this season with how the receivers are lining up.
A couple of rookie options are also making their mark. Third-round pick Michael Gallup looks to be every bit the receiver the Cowboys thought they were getting. He has great hands, runs crisp routes and there is already talk about Gallup having the ability to be the number one receiver on the team at some point this year.
The other rookie who’s making an impression is Dalton Schultz. The tight end had a reputation as a good blocker in college at Stanford, but his receiving skills are surprising people. Schultz missed the second day in pads because his girlfriend is expecting to give birth to his first child.
On the defensive side of the ball, the excitement is building. Jaylon Smith is moving extremely well and it looks like he’s on track to become the player he was before the injury. He’s got the speed and explosion back, making the linebacker unit one of the strengths with Sean Lee and rookie Leighton Vander Esch, who is catching up quickly.
However, it’s the defensive backs who are standing out right now. Chidobe Awuzie has improved and taken the step many thought he would in year two. After being at camp this week, Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson mentioned that he can see why Chido is being hyped and called him a “star.”
Another star in training camp early on is Byron Jones. He finally appears ready to live up to his draft status and the switch to cornerback has fit Jones perfectly. Jones’ best play was when he came up with a beautiful interception down the sideline on the team’s first day in pads. It’s very apparent that new defensive backs coach Kris Richard is having a positive effect on the defensive backs, especially with Jones.
Some of the other, more obvious observations: the offensive line is dominating. The three All-Pros are exactly what we all know them to be and La’el Collins looks like he’s improved in year two at right tackle. Collins stonewalled Taco Charlton in one pass rush drill that started the first fight of training camp. Also, Ezekiel Elliott is in great shape and Prescott has been sharp a few days into camp.
The only downside so far is that Chaz Green has continued to have issues staying healthy and rookie receiver Cedric Wilson hurt his shoulder, which might cost him the season.
The team will take today off, but expect more news coming from Dallas Cowboys training camp as things ramp up over the next few weeks.
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