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Cowboys enter August with some positive early camp buzz

The Dallas Cowboys have made it through July with some things to like about the early camp practices as they begin to ramp up for the season in August
Credit: AP
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) returns a kick past Cleveland Browns running back D'Ernest Johnson (30) during an NFL Football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

DALLAS — The Dallas Cowboys have now been in training camp for a little over a week and with the start of the season weeks away, there is much work to be done.

Dallas had a head start on most of the teams in the league as they will play in the Hall of Fame Game and the league’s Thursday Night opener on the docket. Even though they still are a long way from a finished product, here are some early observations from Oxnard:

Despite shoulder, Dak Prescott looks good

The sore shoulder that dominated the news last week doesn’t appear to be a serious issue for Dallas’ franchise quarterback. The good news is more about Prescott’s leg.

There is always a worry about a player returning from a major injury, but Prescott looks like he’ll be good to go barring any setbacks with his shoulder. As far as the ankle that cost him much of the 2020 season, Prescott is moving well and looks to be running without limitations, which is exactly what the Cowboys wanted to see.

CeeDee Lamb has been impressive

You’d be hard-pressed to find another Cowboys player with higher expectations heading into the season than Lamb. Many are predicting a breakout year into the elite receiver tier for the former Oklahoma star WR, and Lamb’s done nothing but excel since camp began.

There have been one-handed catches and highlight-worthy touchdowns from Lamb thus far as he’s taken over the No. 1 receiver role with teammate Amari Cooper still rehabbing. Don’t be surprised if that continues in-season, that’s how good Lamb has looked.

Tight ends not named Blake Jarwin

The Cowboys inked Jarwin to a long-anticipated extension last offseason, but an injury limited him to just one-half of football last season and halted his expected breakout season. The offense turned to Dalton Schultz, who performed admirably in 2020, yet many expected Jarwin to come back as the top TE on the roster. That might not be the case.

Camp observers have mentioned Schultz as one of the standouts on the field for the offense thus far for the Cowboys and he might be making a push to retain the starting TE job. Schultz improving as a receiver would make him tough to beat out, especially since he’s a better blocker than Jarwin.

However, Schultz is not the only TE making waves in camp. Second-year undrafted FA Sean McKeon has also made an impression.

With McKeon coming on, tight end is currently one of the deepest positions on the roster.

Randy Gregory has arrived

Fellow DE DeMarcus Lawrence hasn’t begun to practice yet so Gregory has been putting on a show. There hasn’t been a day since camp got underway that Gregory hasn’t been one of the most impressive players on the field. For a defense that needs play makers and guys who can get after the quarterback, Gregory’s play is a welcomed sign.

It’s also important to note that the entire Cowboys offensive line has been back since camp arrived, so Gregory has been playing up against the best of the best.

Finally having a full offseason under his belt, and having put the pieces together off the field, Gregory is beginning to live up to his enormous talent. If the former Nebraska Cornhusker continues to get better, the Dallas defense should have one of best DE tandems in the league with Lawrence and Gregory.

Trevon Diggs as CB No. 1 

Coming into the offseason, the Cowboys had holes in their secondary and, after Diggs’ uneven rookie year, the hope was that the former second-rounder could make the jump to become the top CB on the team and fill a glaring weakness from 2020.

A week into camp and there’s little doubt about Diggs being the best CB on the defense.

Diggs has picked off passes, (including ones from Prescott), been sticky coverage (including when defending Lamb), and has looked every bit like he’s in the process of taking the jump in his sophomore camp into exactly what the Cowboys need, a true No. 1 CB.

Micah Parsons better than advertised

When you’re selecting inside the top half of the draft, you need to get the pick right and the Cowboys must be smiling thus far. Dallas selected Parsons to help improve a lackluster defense and the rookie out of Penn St. has been everything the team had hoped for.

Parsons has been stout against the run, standing up Ezekiel Elliott on one run and chasing him to the edge on another, solid in coverage, picking off at least one pass and carrying Lamb deep down the field on another play, while also working as a pass rusher.

The 2021 No. 12 overall pick has been tasked with taking on a lot of responsibility and Parsons has been doing well in all phases in his first camp.

 What has stood out to you the most from Cowboys camp so far? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi