When the pads came on for the Dallas Cowboys at training camp yesterday, their first real practice of the summer offered respite from a media frenzy caused by Dez Bryant's latest tweet storm. While some players still fielded questions about Dez's comments, we have our first look at the actual players that will catch passes for Dak Prescott in 2018, which is much more important. Perhaps the best thing the Cowboys saw here was Wide Receiver Cole Beasley's strong day, as he looks to regain his 2016 form.
It's easy to forget just how important Beasley was to Prescott as a rookie. Catching a career high 79 passes for 840 yards, Beasley was a “Dak-friendly” receiver before it was mainstream. His quickness to win on the inside fit Prescott's strengths as a spread QB in college very well.
There are many reasons why this wasn't so much the case a year ago. Admittedly, there's some truth to Bryant's comments that predictability and the unwillingness from the Cowboys to line up their receivers differently made is easier for defenses to take away Beasley.
Only a few days in with new WR Coach Sanjay Lal, the Cowboys seem to be putting this behind them very well, and finding a proven receiver to feature early must be comforting.
Surely the Cowboys will still rely heavily on rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup and other new additions to this WR room, but the rightful chance to set the tone at training camp went to Beasley and Terrance Williams.
Dak to Cole Beasley pic.twitter.com/p4V2DOoMcu
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) July 29, 2018
Beasley described Satuday's unique practice as “fun”, reportedly lining up all over the field and expanding his route tree to come away more fatigued that usual.
“Beasley lined up all over the formation, running short routes and downfield routes from both inside and outside. On top of that, it seemed like there was a point to get him on the move, as he took the ball several times on multiple end arounds and reverses.” – DallasCowboys.com practice report
It may very well have been Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard's defense that was most excited to start in pads yesterday, and there was plenty of good news out of this unit. As the question on defense remains finding this team's ceiling, the Cowboys offense is embracing a total renaissance.
Your training camp punt returners: Tavon Austin, Cole Beasley, Lance Lenoir, Trey Williams #cowboyswire
— David Helman (@davidhelman_) July 29, 2018
Without your veteran players buying in, an approach like this doesn't stand a chance, and Beasley did more than just buy in yesterday. His ability to perform and lead by example is something everyone should hope to see more of as practice continues.
This is especially true of Dak Prescott, who (for what it's worth) was one of the players Bryant still stood by when calling out the Cowboys again. Whether or not Prescott has a better third year because of Bryant's departure will be determined heavily by both Beasley and Williams' ability to remain consistent.
Lastly, note that Anthony Brown continued to get most of the work as the Cowboys slot cornerback, with Jourdan Lewis being used on certain blitz packages. It was Lewis that had the much better season a year ago, so I'll be waiting patiently to see the second-year player draw Cole Beasley in coverage.