OXNARD -- Unlike Tom Benson Stadium in Canton, Ohio, there was no tar-like paint on the playing surface to stop the Cowboys from playing their blue-white scrimmage before 8,723 Cowboys fans (along with two Eagles interlopers and Joe Panos, the agent for Travis Frederick, and yeah, he's here for a reason). Denzel Washington made Saturday notable. But here's some notes on some players who made Sunday's Blue-White scrimmage notable:
* SHERIFF ANDY -- Undrafted rookie receiver Andy Jones from Jacksonville put on a show with his catches in the scrimmage. Working mostly with the second and third teams, Jones did get a chance to shine with third-year receiver Devin Street out of the practice with a back injury. While Jones not only has to compete against the locks of Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley in the receiving corps, but also the veterans Brice Butler, Lucky Whitehead, and Street. If the Cowboys are true to their word of player personnel being a 365-days-a-year job, then Jones could possibly oust Street. Dallas would love to land Jones on their practice squad if he doesn't make their 53. The problem is another squad may put him on their 53.
Said head coach Jason Garrett: "He's doing a nice job. He did a good job in the spring. Laid a good foundation for himself, made a very positive impression on his teammates, on the coaches. I think he's carried that forward into training camp. He's a serious-minded guy, football's very important to him. Goes about it the right way. He's a young player though, so there's a lot for him to learn everyday."
Obviously, when it comes to Cowboys receiver, Dez Bryant is the man:
But Jones is making a push. And Lucky Whitehead's TD as a punt returner makes the decision that much harder.
* SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS -- Second-year quarterback Jameill Showers made the case Sunday for why the front office need not seek any outside help at backup quarterback. The former UTEP (and one-time Aggie) signal-caller got the best of fourth-round rookie Dak Prescott this day with precision passes and a quicker release. Again, the jury is still out on whether Dallas needs to summon a veteran field general in that quarterback room (we think we know the answers), but Showers' opening argument was a good start.
Fish was among the handful of reporters who caught up with owner Jerry Jones after the workout, and if he's bluffing on not needing to trade for a vet QB, he's doing so convincingly.
"I'm more encouraged after this,'' he said of Prescott and Showers work, "about holding a pat hand on a veteran. If we continue to see this kind of improvement...''
Of course, none of them are Tony Romo, who was so dominant in the two-minute drill that it hardly seemed fair.
"He's one of the top QBs in the NFL, if not the top,'' COO Stephen Jones said. "I wouldn't trade him for anybody."
* KING GEOFFREY -- Tight end Geoff Swaim out of Texas, the Cowboys' sixth-rounder from last season, played like he saw an opportunity for more reps and upward mobility with fifth-year tight end James Hanna still nursing a knee injury. While all eyes are on fourth-year tight end Gavin Escobar, who the Cowboys took with their second round pick in 2013, to overtake Hanna, Swaim made catches with the second and third teams that demonstrate an overall better understanding of the game compared to last year. No one is replacing Jason Witten for the top spot, but Swaim may be creeping towards being the 14-year pro's immediate understudy.
Said Garrett: "He’s probably playing more decisively. He understands his technique more. He understands our system more. He’s been in the different situations so he can pounce on them a little bit more instead of just surviving in those situations. But again that’s what a lot of young players go through at all positions.''
Fish asked Swaim whether the zany Mike Pope TE drills are part of his development.
"Well, I think it teaches you to expect the unexpected,'' Swaim told Fish. "You have your head in a bucket of ice water, that kind of stuff helps. I don't know in what capacity sometimes, but it helps.''
* IRVING, TEXAS -- While the newspapers have been shouting "Extra!" so you'll read all about second-year defensive end Ryan Russell's replacing Randy Gregory at right defensive end, we at CowboysHQ have been telling you about the growth of second-year defensive end David Irving all off-season. If Irving wasn't batting down balls at the line of scrimmage like Too Tall Jones, he was charging the edge to find ways to hurry the passer. While no one ever wants to have their two key edge rushers suspended for the first four games or more as is the case with DeMarcus Lawrence and Gregory, don't get too down on the defensive line with aggressors like Irving finding ways to make plays.
Irving told Fish: "The help can come from within. We got to get some people healthy. But we can handle it.''
* SETTING THE TONE
Witten and linebacker Sean Lee, two captains of the offense and defense who represent God, family, and apple pie, got into a scuffle early to start the intriguing portions of practice. Was Coach Garrett upset at these two leaders?
"To me, that’s the way those guys go about it all the time and that’s why they’re such great leaders," Garrett said. "They come to work every day. They have the right mindset. They’re prepared mentally, physically and emotionally to go be their best. When you have your best players doing that, it pervades the whole football team. Those guys are always setting the tone. When you have six, eight, 10, 12 of those guys throughout your team, you typically tend to practice fairly well. It’s great leadership on their part about how to go about it. And certainly it was positive for our team and for the young guys."
Said Lee: "You kind of feel that intensity. The intensity is high, as high as it can be right now.''
* THE LAST WORD
Garrett thought the scrimmage was "a really good day for everybody." He thought the veterans did a good job of approaching the day.
"Our veteran players did a nice job in their approach to what this day was all about, situational work with them, red zone, two-minute, end of game stuff and I thought they were locked in," said Garrett. "It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was a great learning opportunity for our whole team. Then we gave the younger guys a chance at the end and I thought all of the younger guys really tried to take advantage of this opportunity. We talk a lot about preparing and rehearsing and then just going and play. I thought we did a good job of that today as a football team."