Cowboys goaltender Tyler Smith shows strength, CeeDee Lamb shines

The Dallas Cowboys practiced in the pads Monday for the first time since the 2021 season.

Under NFL rules, all teams have a four-day build-up in training camp before working full speed in the pads.

And the team and coaching staff treated him like kids over Christmas.

It was the beginning of real football.

“Absolutely. I think for all of us, work is the priority,” coach Mike McCarthy said. been at a disadvantage in practice so far, it’s clearly the offensive line. It’s the day we’ve been looking forward to. It’s as close as it gets to playing games. That’s why we’re in. I want it to go up, I want the juice, I want the fur to fly, all that.

“When I think of Oxnard, I think of padded training in this weather, let’s go. Let’s go. Today is that day.

Said defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence: “You always look forward to it. It’s been a long year without a hit, so I feel like everyone else, the anticipation is in for the first day of pads and I’m glad we’re done. Now we can calm down and start getting back to our fundamentals.

Observations from Monday’s practice:

1. The Cowboys suffered a blow when wide receiver James Washington suffered a possible foot fracture on day one in the pads. But they escaped a double dose of pain when safety Jayron Kearse returned to practice after leaving the field with the coaches with an apparent right leg injury.

Kearse fell after one play and was then helped onto the sidelines before leaving the field. A few minutes later, he ran onto the field and returned to training.

“Nothing bothers me,” Kearse said. “I tried to plant, my foot was too wide and I just tweaked (the knee) a bit. I’m doing it well. Nothing bothers me.”

The Cowboys have officially called Kearse’s injury a hyperextended knee.

Kearse led the Cowboys in tackles last year and is the defensive playmaker.

2. Jerry Jones predicted Tyler Smith’s first-round pick the power would appear when the team first put on pads. And just at the right time, Smith, who is battling Connor McGovern for the starting job at left guard, has started to push his weight. He more than held his own in pass rush drills, but the highlight was in team drills when Smith had a pancake block on defensive tackle Trysten Hill on a run play.

McCarthy said Smith just needs more reps at guard and more reps with first-team tackle Tyron Smith. The team had him split his time at tackle in OTAs and minicamp. But it’s over.

“He has to play,” McCarthy said. “He is like the others he needs to play in the pads, he has to do combination blocks with Tyron. A combo block just isn’t a combo block, it’s your footwork paired with a guy next to him. It is timing the anticipation of all these things. I guess most of it, it just needs reps.

“We really had this conversation after spring. We probably played him too much at tackle than at guard. So it can equate to football where he’s a bit late, half a step away, the hands may not be there (he has to be). It’s like anything that can keep him in one place and let him feel comfortable there.

3. Depending on your point of view, the kicking situation Beginning to worry the rookie of the Cowboys. Texas Tech, Jonathan Garibay, in difficulty since the beginning of the camp.

Garibay admits he’s behind veteran Lirim Harjullahu, who was signed just before camp to provide competition for the rookie.

Garibay went 6 of 8 on kicks on Monday while Hajrullahu was 7 of 8. In late game situations with the offense, Garibay went 0 for 2, while Hajrullahu landed both of his kicks.

It comes from a weekend training when Garibay only landed 4 out of 8 kicks.

4. Fifth-round pick Matt Waletzko, who the Cowboys took with the selection the team received from the Cleveland Browns for wide receiver Amari Cooper, is sidelined from practice with a shoulder injury.

Coach Mike McCarthy said surgery is likely for the rookie offensive tackle, who has a history of shoulder injuries dating back to his days at North Dakota.

Waletzko’s injury is another setback for the Cowboys, who expected him to rival Josh Ball for third tackle. It’s also another example of how little the Cowboys got for Cooper in the trade.

5. Receiver CeeDee Lamb returned to training on Monday after taking time off on Saturday for workload management. And he came back with a bang. He caught a number of passes from Dak Prescott while also providing a glimpse of what the offense could look like with him as the No. 1 receiver.

The Cowboys featured Lamb on the outside and in lunge position. After practice, he said it was an example of how they were going to move him to get the ball in his hands. Amari Cooper complained that the Cowboys did not introduce him as the No. 1 receiver.

Lamb said Monday’s practice was just a taste of things to come.

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies since the demise of the teams from the dynasty of the 1990s through the roller coaster years of the Tony Romo era to Jason Garrett’s Cowboys process.

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