The obvious talk of the day was injury concerns when it came to the Dallas Cowboys. After a day off on Sunday, the club returned to the field on Monday and wore pads for the first time in training camp. Wearing the shells allows the players to feel like they’re actually doing their job, as the battles in the trenches take on a lot more grit after everyone’s had a week to get their feet under there.
Unfortunately, the legs buckled in more ways than one as James Washington broke a bone in his foot and safety Jayron Kearse rolled his. The latter turned out not to be important, but the former will lose significant time.
Meanwhile on the field, there was plenty of action that fans were excited to see in Oxnard. Here’s a roundup of other takeaways and highlights from Day 6, Practice 5 for the Cowboys in 2022.
The Cowboys released Greg Zuerlein in the offseason after two sporadic years and appeared to be all-in on UDFA Jonathan Garibay out of Texas Tech. The young leg has a powerful, but not very accurate. Veteran Liam Hajrullahu therefore makes it a contest.
After a very poor start on Saturday, going 4-for-8, Garibay went 6-for-8 on Monday. The issue was compounded when the two misses were during Mojo Moments, a contrived session designed by coach Mike McCarthy that adds some pressure to the situation.
Hajrullahu made seven of eight kicks for the second straight practice.
Tyler Smith in pads
Head coach Mike McCarthy had plenty to say about putting the left guard in pads on Monday.
“The biggest thing is, discipline and understanding tempo, if you’re a young linebacker and you play in this offense, we don’t line up using the same tempo every snap. That’s the first part, and I’m not just saying this specifically for Tyler, it’s any young lineman, if you don’t cross that threshold, you’re not going to be able to play as fast, you’re not going to be able to predict, your awareness, you’re going to be half step back”.
“The second thing, he has to play it. He is like the others he needs to play in pads, he needs to combo block with Tyron. A combo block isn’t just a combo block, it’s your leg combined with a guy next to it. It is the timing of anticipation for all these things. I guess most of it just needs repetition. We just can’t get enough of your young players, especially our young forward.”
CeeDee Lamb returns to team drills after resting on Saturday
McCarthy said he wants to make sure he doesn’t overstretch his players, and that includes his No. 1 WR. With Washington injured and Michael Gallup sidelined, Lamb is the only active WR on the roster with 40+ career catches (Noah Brown is only other WR with at least one catch) and the only receiver with scores touchdowns.
Lamb rewarded McCarthy with perhaps his best day of camp, according to The Athletic’s John Machotta.
Lamb had his best practice of camp, catching everything thrown at him. The Cowboys’ No. 1 wide receiver looks absolutely ready to take on an even bigger role in Year 3. He was limited Saturday, but not due to injury. “It was just a rep count, being conscious,” Mike McCarthy said. “There was nothing physically there. Trusting the numbers, GPS from the past. This was by design.”
Team speed is a real thing
Seeing Micah Parsons spot the carriers will never get old, nor will seeing Tony Pollard do his thing. In practice, we get to see the two fastest in action and it crystallizes how vital team speed is in a physical game. There is the ability to beat your opponent and then there is the ability to dominate with speed.
Elliot walks out
Can Noah Brown finally emerge?
The injury to Washington does open the door for veteran Noah Brown to get more time, and he’s already had a strong training camp. The fifth baseman has never had more than last year’s 16 receptions in a season, but he is a very strong blocker and has been successful when targeted.
That continued on Monday as Brown went up again and again.
Dak Prescott’s best day of practice
Cowboys host Landon McCool noted what has been discussed several times in the past, that Prescott wasn’t always the best practice player, more of a game-returning prodigy. But Prescott apparently played lights out on Monday, which will be sorely needed with the limitations at the wide receiver position unless the Cowboys fire and bring in someone else.
Will Nahshon Wright earn playing time?
The defense is always ahead of the offense early in training camp, but after best seasons ever from Trevon Diggs, Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis, it bodes well for the cornerback group as a whole to be under new direction in 2021 .One player that coaching staff was excited enough to “over-report” was Nahshon Wright, and he continues to play in 2022 training camp. He’s the longest of the Cowboys linebackers, a favorite trait of Dan Quinn.
Osa Odighizuwa sees the writing on the wall, wrong film
As a rookie, Odighizuwa shot out the gates in 2021 with two sacks, but declined as the year went on. It was understandable, as rookies hit the wall regularly and 2020 was a pandemic year and UCLA had a truncated schedule. Will Year 2 emerge as a year-round performer? An interesting fact that emerged on Monday was Odighizuwa’s messages to himself that he writes on his wrist tape before every practice.
The message changes based on what he wants to keep fresh in his head.
Matt Waletzko won’t get the job he needs
Some people were talking about Waletzko being the Cowboys swing tackle in 2022, but that never made sense to this writer.
LB Damone Clark can actually play in 2022
After spinal fusion surgery, most non-rose-tinted glasses fans thought the draft pick spent on the LSU linebacker was a wise move to move forward with drafting a LB in 2023. It felt far-fetched that Clark could seen the field in any meaningful way this season.
While most may discount the words of optimistic owner Jerry Jones, having Clark here sooner rather than later would be exciting. The fact that he did some of the same rehab exercises as Michael Gallup… maybe. Just maybe.
The story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire