Cowboys wake-up call: Day 19

August, 12, 2014
8/12/14
8:00
AM ET
OXNARD, Calif. -- Every day of Dallas Cowboys training camp we’ll offer up a wake-up call that offers a quick review of the previous day and a preview of the current day.

Today’s schedule: The Cowboys and Oakland Raiders will hold their first of two practices together, starting at 3:45 p.m. PT. Jason Garrett’s news conference will be at noon PT.

Quick thoughts on camp so far:
  • I had him on my most recent 53-man roster projection, but Cam Lawrence has really developed as a linebacker. The Cowboys weren’t too comfortable with him last year at the spot, but he is doing a better job in camp and is working his way back on the first units on special teams.
  • I’ve noticed the receivers are doing a good job of blocking downfield and credit has to go to coach Derek Dooley. He has made it important, even putting the receivers on the blocking sled. But credit should go to the receivers, too, especially Dez Bryant, because they are not just giving it lip service.
  • The defensive effort was much better in practice on Saturday and Sunday. That’s what angered the coaches most versus San Diego. The execution remains lacking but the players have to play with top effort if things are going to change.
  • Rookie Zack Martin is doing a terrific job. He has gotten the best of Henry Melton in drills so far. He has made mistakes but he is a quick learner. He’s also pretty quick on his feet. He can recover better than most guards, which I think is in part due to his tackle skills.
What I’m watching: With the Raiders in town for two days of practice, it will be a good chance to truly evaluate. Oftentimes what happens in camp is that players on both sides of the ball tend to memorize plays each day and know what’s coming and can anticipate the snap.

With the Raiders, they won’t be able to do that.

I want to see Tyron Smith against LaMarr Woodley and the other Oakland pass-rushers. Frankly the Cowboys have not been able to challenge him much. Now, he’s that good, but is he THAT good? Perhaps, but the Raiders offer a different challenge.

Brandon Carr is expected to be in pads for the practices, so he’ll get a familiar face in Andre Holmes, the Cowboys’ castoff. Holmes lit up the Cowboys for 136 yards on seven catches on Thanksgiving last year.

The run defense. I don’t care if it’s Maurice Jones-Drew or Darren McFadden running the ball, let’s see if the line can get off blocks and if the linebackers can make tackles.

They said it: “Because I know how to handle myself. I’m learning how to channel that in a more positive way. I know exactly what I’m doing when I’m out here on the field.” -- Dez Bryant on if he has to watch his emotions on the field more.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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