The Cowboys’ joint practice offers a grim view of WR depth

For David Helman
Dallas Cowboys Writer for FOX Sports

COSTA MESA, Calif. — Call it a look at what the future might look like Dak Prescott if the breaks don’t go your way.

With CeeDee Lamb missing another day of practice with a cut foot and Noah Brown added to the injury report with a toe problem, Prescott’s receiving corps at Thursday’s joint practice against the LA Chargers it looked like mostly practice gear.

This is not meant as a knock on the staff, it is just a statement of fact. Simi Fehoko, who played seven offensive snaps as a rookie last season, is currently the most experienced healthy receiver on the Cowboys roster. Behind him is KaVaontae Turpin, who spent the spring playing in the USFL but is getting his first NFL snaps this month.

Everyone else on the depth chart is either a rookie or has never played a regular season game, and it looked that way.

CeeDee Lamb misses joint practice due to a cut on her foot

CeeDee Lamb misses joint practice due to a cut on her foot

Emmanuel Acho and Joy Taylor share whether they feel Lamb’s injury is serious or not.

Throughout the afternoon, the Cowboys seemed to lack consistency in their passing game. Dalton Schultz continued his connection with Prescott, catching one of the few touchdown passes of the day. But for the most part, it was hard not to notice drops from artists like Turpin, Jalen Tolbert and Tony Pollard.

The biggest exception to that was undrafted rookie Dennis Houston, who continued what has been a strong training camp.

The Western Illinois standout caught two contested passes from Prescott, including an impressive post route up the middle of the field. And that was before the end of practice, when Prescott attempted a Hail Mary from midfield at the end of the scrimmage’s two-minute drill and found Houston in a scrum for a touchdown “game winner”.

“I talked about it on Monday, just those guys that were able to take an opportunity and make some plays, make something maybe they haven’t done,” Prescott said.

It is not fair to say that the boys have seized the opportunity. It’s just a question of whether that’s good enough. Back to the original point, even Houston faced a slump in the crucial red zone practice period.

Asked about it, however, Prescott dismissed the idea that he would be frustrated by his supporting cast.

“That’s what it’s all about,” he said. “It’s about this exact moment to work and get other guys to step up and take advantage of their opportunity. Who knows? We hope not, but there may be times when those guys aren’t available and we have to know what we’re working on. with

“Those guys need to know what I expect from them and how they expect me to throw the ball.”

To be fair, it’s also true that the regular season still has three long weeks to go. Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters Thursday morning that Lamb would likely practice again when the team resumes practice in Frisco, Texas.

Michael Gallup also raised some eyebrows after practice when he ran a handful of routes and caught a few passes from Prescott, a clear sign that he’s making good progress in his recovery from a torn ACL last January.

Lamb should be fine, and reinforcements are eventually on the way. It’s just that Thursday provided a reminder of what the depth chart looks like at receiver. Hopefully the Cowboys, Houston and others can continue that opportunity in the regular season.

For now, Prescott will continue to try to carry the offense, regardless of who is available.

“I do what I’m asked,” he said. “Being the quarterback of this team, and any time you play that position, you know your responsibility is to get other guys to come with you, to get other guys to be locked in and disciplined. It’s no different if the receiver The body is old or young. They’re looking to me for answers, I’m looking for them to communicate and be on the same page. We’re going to keep doing this and keep growing.”

Thursday marked the Cowboys’ final practice on the West Coast. Here are some additional notes from the driving range at the Jack R. Hammett Sports Complex.

The best selection

It’s time you learned the name DaRon Bland, if you don’t already. The fifth-round pick out of Fresno State raised some eyebrows in Denver with a solid outing in the preseason opener. He built on that Thursday with his best practice yet.

With Jourdan Lewis sitting out with an injured hamstring, Bland got a chance to start in nickel and made the most of it. He dropped a pick on the first snap of the team period, but had two more pass breakups and came away with an interception in the end zone on the final snap of practice.

McCarthy said Thursday that the Cowboys’ goal is to have Lewis healthy in time for Week 1, meaning we may not see much of him for the rest of training camp. If that’s the case, what a chance for a Day 3 draft pick. Anthony Brown has plenty of experience in the slot and could move inside if needed. But if Bland continues to excel, the coaches could opt to leave the veteran in his usual role on the left side and let the rookie handle the nickel role.

Second-year corners Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright get the most publicity, given their draft stock. But Bland is making a strong case as the best young corner this camp.

Eyes on LB

Wednesday was the Micah Parsons Show, but the other members of the Cowboys’ linebacker corps got involved Thursday. On the first play of a two-minute drive, Leighton Vander Esch dropped the plan in Justin Herbert’s throwing lane, making a diving interception to kill a potential scoring drive. Luke Gifford also had a near interception, which he dropped.

It’s also interesting to note that Anthony Barr got involved in some team reps on Thursday. The Cowboys are working the veteran linebacker slowly, but they did show some basics with the trio of Barr, Parsons and Vander Esch on the field at the same time.

rush job

Both teams have some juice among their pass rushers, if that wasn’t obvious. The Cowboys enjoyed another productive day bothering the Chargers quarterbacks as Dante Fowler Jr. and Quinton Bohanna finished with sacks.

The Chargers employ Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, though, and it shows. For starters, the Chargers’ defense completely shut down Dallas’ running game on Thursday, after giving up several plays on Wednesday. On top of that, there were at least three or four occasions where LA running backs got to Prescott in the backfield.

David Helman covers the Dallas Cowboys for FOX Sports, providing insight and analysis on the NFL’s most watched franchise. Prior to joining FOX, David spent nine seasons covering the Cowboys for the team’s official website, DallasCowboys.com. In 2018, he won a regional Emmy for his role in the production of “Dak Prescott: A Family Reunion” about the quarterback’s time at Mississippi State.


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