The Dallas Cowboys headed to Denver to take on the Broncos in a joint practice on Thursday. Temperatures were high and so was the number of fights, despite what head coach Mike McCarthy wanted.
Thursday’s practice was a chance for the Cowboys to get quality work against someone other than themselves and prove where they’re at in the offseason.
In his press conference just minutes before the “scrimmage” began, the Cowboys head coach was very clear about what he was looking for from this practice:
"“This is the closest opportunity to get to game speed. I just want to see our guys grow. We are here to improve. The way this thing is laid out, I think it’s going to be great work today. We are here to have a real positive experience.Once again we are here for all the right reasons, and I want to see our guys compete.”"
He was also explicitly clear about one thing that constantly seems to come up in preseason scrimmages: fights.
"“We don’t want the fights. We are not here to fight. I don’t view it as toughness. If you throw a punch, you’re ejected from the game. So same rules apply today.”"
Unfortunately for the head coach and his players, it seemed like the opposite happened on Thursday afternoon in The Mile High City.
Cowboys players were walked off the field with injuries, and aside from the usual dominance from Micah Parsons and some decent throws from Dak Prescott, the team seemed to struggle. Reporters at the practice noted that things were very one-sided (in favor of the Broncos). Plus, those fights that were supposed to be avoided, weren’t. There wasn’t just one tussle. There were supposedly many.
Injuries, fights, and poor play overshadow the Cowboys’ joint practice with the Broncos
Overall, it did not seem to go the way McCarthy planned. Here are some key moments from the joint practice. The main thing we heard about more than anything else was numerous fights. At one point, Clarence Hill Jr. reported that he counted at least six fights between the two sides.
No one was necessarily given the blame for the skirmishes, but it did seem that OT Terence Steele was involved a good amount.
McCarthy mentioned getting good work in, and that didn’t seem to happen all that much. The offense continually struggled to execute, while the Broncos didn’t.
A prime example of that struggle was this massive, and arguably unnecessary, hit from Bradley Chubb on Ezekiel Elliott during the practice. The knockdown was so big that the reporters from the live stream on the Cowboys site gave a massive “ooh!” Things were definitely chippy.
Once again, the injury bug seemed to be present for Dallas. It’s true that the only way players are going to be physically ready for the season is to practice, but having players get hurt in scrimmages certainly isn’t ideal. The first to go down was backup TE Ian Bunting.
Shortly after, fifth-round pick John Ridgeway had to be walked off the field as well. Michael Gehlken later tweeted an update saying that Bunting was dealing with neck soreness after taking a big hit and Ridgeway seemed to be okay. Both will continue to be monitored moving forward.
Preseason is preseason, but it certainly appears that the Broncos won this “matchup.” This was a chance for the starters to show up and prove themselves, and that wasn’t the case for a majority of the time.
The Cowboys will practice again on their own on Friday where they will switch gears to the rookies and depth players. As expected, McCarthy reported that all starters will not participate in Saturday’s game.