Dallas Cowboys Rookie Training Camp Progress Reports
With one preseason game under everyone’s belt, we’re now in the midst of training camp. Players are starting to get recognized, and youngsters are fighting their hardest to make an NFL team.
However, game film is a great way to evaluate talent and see what players really have. With that said, here’s the training camp progress reports for the majority of the rookies.
The Cowboys are expecting big things from their first-round pick this year, and so far Zack Martin hasn’t disappointed. Although the starting offensive line didn’t play too much in the preseason opener, they looked solid when they did.
Martin has the most pressure on him entering the regular season simply because he’s expected to be a starter. Unlike some others given room to grow, Martin has to perform from Week 1.
Second-year Travis Frederick thought Martin looked good in his first game. According to Scott Crisp of NBCDFW, Frederick said, "I played a few more snaps than [Martin] did, but I think from what I can tell he did a very good job. He was comfortable, confident, which is all the good things you want.”
One of the biggest blows of training camp occurred when second-round selection Demarcus Lawrence broke his foot. Just a few practices in, the rookie broke his right foot in a pass-rush drill.
Unfortunately for Dallas, Lawrence will miss eight to 10 weeks with the injury (injured July 30). The Cowboys had high hopes he could help replace DeMarcus Ware immediately.
ESPNDallas.com’s Jean-Jacques Taylor talked with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli about the injury. Marinelli said, “It’s tough. He's a heck of a young player. I thought he was coming along well and all those things, but that's ball.”
Rookie linebacker Anthony Hitchens was one of the more impressive defensive players against San Diego. He was second on the team with eight total tackles including one for loss at the goal line.
The defense in general didn’t look good. However, Hitchens was one of the few who stood out. With an unproven linebacking corps, the rookie could have an important role in 2014.
He may not be turning heads at training camp, but making big plays in games will get you noticed. The rest of the summer will be big for Hitchens.
Nice play by Dallas Cowboys rookie LB Anthony Hitchens, who has been a no-show so far in training camp.— Brandon George (@DMN_George) August 8, 2014
Although it’s more difficult to stand out on offense, Devin Street is doing so at Cowboys camp. He is one of several receivers competing for the No. 3 spot.
In the preseason opener, Street recorded four receptions on four targets for 43 yards. Despite being criticized for his lack of speed coming into the draft, the rookie looked like he had plenty of legs in his first game.
ESPNDallas.com’s Todd Archer talked with head coach Jason Garrett about Street. Garrett said, “Devin’s a mature guy. He’s a really aware guy. He’s mature as a route runner. He’s quarterback-friendly.”
Injuries can be fatal to young players during training camp. That’s truly the case if you’re a seventh-round selection like Stanford’s Ben Gardner.
The defensive end strained his shoulder on July 27 and has missed some precious time.
Even though the Cowboys are extremely thin on the line, Gardner still has a lot of work to do to make the roster. He’s since returned from injury but has also missed additional practices as well.
Ben Gardner not practicing either after working the last couple days— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) August 5, 2014
Another seventh-rounder trying to make the team is linebacker Will Smith. He, like Gardner, has been struggling to stay on the field at camp.
The former Texas Tech player has been dealing with a groin injury, which kept him out of the preseason opener.
Like Gardner, Smith can make this team because of the lack of depth all over the defense. Nevertheless, he will have to make good impressions at practice and during his time in the games.
One seventh-round pick who is taking advantage of his time at camp is safety Ahmad Dixon. He led the team with 12 total tackles against the Chargers, 11 of which were solo.
As mentioned, the defense was poor overall, but Dixon was definitely a bright point. He was flying around the ball, delivering big hits when he could.
Despite suffering a concussion that will keep him out a few days, Garrett is excited about Dixon.
ESPNDallas.com’s Todd Archer reported Garrett saying:
He has his issues like all young players do, aligning and making the adjustments and all that, so he has a long way to go in that area. But it’s important to recognize and validate the kind of performance he had. It’s important for everybody else on our team to see that.
Ken Bishop is another guy who will have to impress to make the team. In his first professional game, the defensive tackle made a few plays to turn heads.
Bishop recorded three tackles against San Diego and one horse-collar penalty. The reason I even mention the penalty is because even though he committed the foul, it was his athleticism and hustle that caught my eye. He never quit on the play and tracked down the running back from behind.
According to David Helman of DallasCowboys.com, Garrett is pleased with some of what Bishop’s been doing. Garrett said, “He’s just done a lot of good things since he’s been here. He’s a big guy, he’s athletic. He’s got a little snap to him, both in his upper body and his lower body.”
Rookie corner Terrance Mitchell has been one of the most notable Cowboys to watch thus far in training camp. Even though he made a few mistakes, the rookie had five tackles in the preseason game and looked fairly decent in his first game opportunity.
It seemed as though Mitchell was competing for the No. 4 corner spot. However, with Orlando Scandrick’s suspension, per Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com, Mitchell becomes that much more important. He will now battle Sterling Moore and B.W. Webb for the No. 3 corner for at least the first quarter of the regular season.
The good news is he looks good and the coaching staff likes him. Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News talked with coach Garrett about the youngster. Garrett said:
He’s a natural competitor. He scratches, claws, fights. Everybody’s mad at him because he takes every other rep in 1-on-1s. He keeps diving in there. But at the end of the day, that’s what you want. He’s certainly gotten better over the last couple weeks.
Davon Coleman was an undrafted free agent before the Cowboys brought him to camp this summer. So far, the defensive tackle has been a great surprise.
DallasCowboys.com’s David Helman thought he looked good in drills. He wrote:
Coleman continued to turn heads with his pass rushing ability – in both individual drills and team work. Defenders aren’t allowed to hit quarterbacks in practice, but Coleman would have had quite the sack if they were. In team drills, he blew past Mackenzy Bernadeau and was right in Tony Romo’s face within seconds.
Even though Coleman and the rest of the defensive line struggled in the game, it’s a good sign that the rookie has shown flashes of NFL-caliber play. Dallas needs as much help on defense as possible, and Coleman could be a contributor.