3 things we learned during Dallas Cowboys training camp in Oxnard

Cowboys, T.J. Vasher . Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Cowboys, T.J. Vasher . Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /
1 of 3

The Dallas Cowboys are all wrapped up in Oxnard, California, and have already started their joint practices and preseason games.

With this portion of camp behind us, it felt like a good time to look back at the team and identify three things that we learned during camp.

3 things we learned during Cowboys training camp in Oxnard

Cowboys, Leighton Vander Esch. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

3. Leighton Vander Esch still has it

Dallas declined to pick up the fifth-year option on linebacker Leighton Vander Esch ahead of 2021 which allowed him to hit the open market this offseason. Outside interest was never acted upon and in the end, Vander Esch returned on a one-year deal.

It was a bit of a surprise to see the Cowboys bring him back but so far, it appears to have been a great move. The fifth-year player has been more motivated than ever before and this was noticed by Albert Breer who called LVE one of the surprise players in camp.

"“The team declined his fifth-year option two offseasons ago, and brought him back this year on a one-year deal. He’s returned motivated and is showing better body control and bend at 6’4″ and is taking on blocks more efficiently than he has in the past.” — Breer, MMQB"

As a rookie, Vander Esch was one of the more imposing linebackers in the NFL. He displayed great speed and incredible instincts — he was also solid in pass protection despite being built like a defensive end.

From there, things went south for him as injuries and inconsistency became the norm. He did, however, put together a solid campaign in 2021, albeit a quiet one.

Should he continue to play as he did in camp, it would go a long way toward helping this defense take its next step under coordinator Dan Quinn.