In 2021, the Dallas Cowboys held a joint practice and scrimmage with the eventual Super Bowl Champion LA Rams. I think we all remember this moment from Tony Pollard and Kenny Young:
Tony Pollard swinging! pic.twitter.com/LHQgYkJieB— Mauricio Rodríguez (@MauNFL) August 7, 2021
The Cowboys have had joint practices with the Rams before, but it looks like it’s time for some new blood. Dallas has announced their decision to hold joint practices with both the LA Chargers and Denver Broncos.
Cowboys to hold a combined three joint practices with the Chargers and Broncos this August, visiting each club at its respective facility. LT Tyron Smith vs. DE Randy Gregory among the matchups. https://t.co/D9HXyPiEV0— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) May 18, 2022
This is a big deal for a number of reasons.
For starters, it’s an early look at now Broncos edge rusher Randy Gregory, following his fallout with Dallas. He joins the defense that turned the tide of the Cowboys 2021 campaign.
The Broncos were the first team to predominantly stop blitzing QB Dak Prescott, who thrives against the blitz. Going up against a reinvigorated Broncos team, who’re potential Super Bowl contenders, is a great litmus test for the season. On offense and defense.
Russell Wilson is now in Denver and has had his success versus the Cowboys. With one of the best receiving trios in the game, they face a serious challenge at quarterback.
Speaking of QBs, the Cowboys got an early look versus the Chargers in week two of 2021. Also known the Jayron Kearse Awakening. Now Justin Herbert is listed among the best young quarterbacks in the game.
He has approached the level of passer the Cowboys defense needs to face. Especially in preparation for the type of QBs they will face in 2022. Now that LA’s offensive line features Rashawn Slater and Zion Johnson on Herberts blindside, it will also demonstrate what could be the biggest challenge for the pass rush.
If the offense wants to improve off a statistical success of the 2021 season, being able to thrive against the secondaries of Denver, which features Patrick Surtain and Justin Simmons, or LA, featuring JC Jackson and Derwin James, is a great place to start. Given how each defense now also has a premiere pass rusher (Khalil Mack in LA), it will also give the offensive line plenty of challenges before the regular season.
The defense took a step forward in 2022. Players like Micah Parsons, Jayron Kearse, Trevon Diggs and DeMarcus Lawrence will need to be the catalysts for continued progress. Facing elite-level QBs like Wilson and Herbert, even in a practice setting, can allow for an early demonstration of it.
Even though the defense faces one of the league’s best in Prescott every practice, a change of pace could be very helpful. Including seeing which of the younger defensive players are ready to contribute heavily to begin.
The Dallas Cowboys will practice against the Broncos before they play each other in the preseason on August 13. They will also practice against the Chargers in Costa Mesa, CA prior.
Featured Image Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports