The Dallas Cowboys now have their first preseason game under their belt and are quickly moving toward the dog days of August.
With each passing exhibition game or practice, the calendar moves one step closer to September. Dallas will learn about itself through this process, with some things already coming to light.
Here are the eight things we've learned from camp so far about the 2013 Cowboys.
In the Hall of Fame game, defensive tackle Ben Bass was down on the turf for some time. This is a sight that Dallas has grown too accustom to since training camp began.
Team owner Jerry Jones told Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News, that he does not believe Bass' injury to be "too serious" but other Cowboys have not been so lucky.
Guards Nate Livings and Kevin Kowalski have felt the sting of the injury bug as has defensive end Tyrone Crawford.
Livings underwent arthroscopic surgery on Aug. 2 for the second time this offseason while Kowalski hurt his leg in practice on July 30. Crawford has already been lost for the entire season with a torn ACL.
At one point already during camp, the Cowboys had 18 players on their injury report. While not all injuries have been as severe as Crawford's, it's not a trend the team would like to see continue.
With Nate Livngs and Kevin Kowalski out and Mackenzy Bernadeau just returning, Dallas' other guards have a chance at extra reps. Ronald Leary is one guard trying to separate himself from the rest while the window of opportunity is open.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has faith in the 2012 undrafted free agent, telling ESPN Dallas' Todd Archer: "I don’t want to be the coach, but I’m comfortable. He has a substance. It’s not just his size, but his punch. He has a base in the middle."
The offensive line has not been a strong spot for the Cowboys the past two seasons, with quarterback Tony Romo suffering 72 sacks over that time span.
Aside from Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith's positions, there is a possibility of change on the offensive line. Leary is a name to keep an eye on through the next four preseason games and during camp.
The Cowboys were able to knock off the Dolphins 24-20 in the Hall of Fame game, thanks in large part to their running game. The team that ranked 31st in rushing in 2012 had two running backs gain 59 or more yards on Miami last night.
Rookie Joseph Randle finished with 70 yards and a touchdown while Phillip Tanner recorded 59 yards on the day. Lance Dunbar also averaged over five yards per carry, with 22 yards on four attempts.
The battle to be DeMarco Murray's backup has been a fierce one out in Oxnard, Calif. and both Randle and Tanner took advantage of the first exhibition bout.
Dallas has a problem on its hands many teams would be happy to have. All three running backs have the ability to grab the No. 2 job, and it seems it will be a tight battle to the end between all three.
In the Hall of Fame game, the Cowboys ran the football over 57 percent of the time. They ran the ball just 33.8 percent of the time a season ago. Dallas also only threw the ball 21 times in its latest exhibition, albeit without Tony Romo playing a single down.
The Cowboys have some talent in the backfield between DeMarco Murray, Joseph Randle and backs. Even with Murray in the fold last season however, Romo tallied 648 attempts, a career-high for him.
Missing the playoffs for the third straight year with a pass-first offensive approach, it looks like Dallas might be switching its mindset.
Randle, Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar have all shown an ability to make things happen when given the ball so far this offseason. With a healthy DeMarco Murray and talented backups, it would only make sense for offensive coordinator Bill Callahan to pound the rock this year.
The Cowboys are on their way to finally balancing out an offensive attack that has the ability to make some noise in the NFC this year.
The Cowboys grabbed just 16 takeaways as a defense last season. No doubt new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin is looking to change that number in 2013.
Kiffin and the defensive staff have already been hard at work to drive the importance of turnovers to the players.
2013 sixth-round pick DeVonte Holloman recently talked to Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News about the emphasis, saying: “The coaches scream (turnovers) during the play, before the play, before we go out there for a series, so when you get one it’s a big deal."
Kiffin's defense rewarded him with two turnovers against the Dolphins, one of which Holloman returned for a touchdown. It's clear, even this early into camp, that the Cowboys are looking to change more than just how they line up regarding their defense.
Travis Frederick for certain will start on the Cowboys offensive line this season and early indications are that he should play well.
Frederick played at both center and guard for Dallas against the Dolphins, with the Wisconsin product feeling better about his play at one than the other. He told Carlos Mendez of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram:
I thought (center) went pretty well. The mistake at guard was I overstepped on a shade technique in pass protection. That was on me. It caused a pressure, not a sack. But a pressure is still not what we are looking for. I need to be solid.
Indications from training camp so far is that Frederick has looked the part of a first-round selection. The only real question surrounding the rookie is what position he will play this season.
Dallas can use all the positive efforts it can get on the offensive line and Frederick seems to be a bright spot.
Ernie Sims made the most of his opportunity with the Cowboys in 2012 and has continued to do so.
The former Detroit Lion tallied 26 tackles over 10 games with Dallas last year, six of which he started. So far in training camp, Sims has continued to impress the Dallas coaching staff. During practice on July 30, Sims broke up a screen pass to Lance Dunbar and stuffed DeMarco Murray on a run, according to ESPN Dallas' Todd Archer.
Between Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Justin Durant and Sims, the Cowboys have plenty of depth at linebacker. Sims will likely end up being a backup when the final depth chart comes out, but he has to be impressing so far this offseason.
After what happened to Dallas' linebacker corps last year, the team has to be happy with any signs of significant depth at the position. Sims has likely been putting many Dallas coaching minds at ease through training camp so far.
Quarterback Tony Romo not only sat out the team's first preseason game (as many starters did), he also didn't participate in mini camps earlier this offseason.
Romo notably had surgery earlier this summer on a cyst in his back and the Cowboys have been playing it cautious with him ever since. This is a sound strategy for a team that has already seen 18 of its players banged up and on the injury report.
The Eastern Illinois graduate is not known for missing many games due to injury in his career. That being said, Dallas needs to protect its $108 million investment. Without Romo at the helm of the Cowboys' offense, the team might as well reserve its spot at the bottom of the NFC East.
Don't expect to see too much of Romo during the upcoming exhibition games. The Cowboys no doubt want him at full health and rested, heading into he season opener against the division rival Giants.