Goal line brings out intensity at Cowboys practice

"You don't have a lot of goal-line situations throughout the year, but when you have them, they're big," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "They're critical to the outcome of the game. We'll work on that." AP Photo/Gus Ruelas

OXNARD, Calif. -- After a sloppy practice on Monday, coach Jason Garrett was pleased with what he saw in the sixth padded practice of Dallas Cowboys training camp.

"I think our team did a good job of responding," Garrett said. "(Monday's) work was very good, but today's work to me was more physical. There was more energy. It was just a better day of practice and we did a lot of different things in (Monday's) practice and it wasn't as consistent enough throughout the practice -- the energy and the execution and the physicalness. It was better today."

That's because the focus for the team drills was short yardage and goal line with live tackling.

The offense had its way. The first team won on seven of the eight short-yardage or goal-line snaps. The second team won on six of eight snaps.

The first team did not have Ezekiel Elliott in goal-line drills. The coaches knew there was no sense putting the reigning NFL rushing champion in harm's way. Darren McFadden was stopped on his first carry, but scored on his second. Alfred Morris and Rod Smith were also able to get to the end zone.

Garrett, however, liked the way the defense responded in situational work later in practice.

"You compete for everything every day and we had some situations in short yardage and goal line where the offense got after the defense," Garrett said. "And the defense has to respond to those situations. Those are big situations in a football game. You don't have a lot of goal-line situations throughout the year, but when you have them, they're big. They're critical to the outcome of the game. We'll work on that. The offense won both of those drills pretty handily, but the defense did a really good job at the end of practice and came back in the two-minute situations and essentially won each of those three drives. The biggest thing you have to do is put what is behind you and leave it behind you and focus on what the task is. I thought our defense did a good job of that today."

  • Dak Prescott completed 12 of 17 passes in team and 7-on-7 drills. On second down in situational work, defensive tackle Stephen Paea had a would-be sack of the quarterback. Prescott threw a short touchdown pass to tight end Jason Witten in the flat.

  • Safety Byron Jones did it again. Covering Elliott in the flat, Jones was able to deflect a Prescott pass for an incompletion. So far Jones has shown he can cover receivers, tight ends and now running backs.

  • Right tackle La'el Collins and fullback Keith Smith threw two of the key blocks in McFadden's touchdown run. Collins was able to open the hole to the right by getting on safety Jeff Heath. Smith filled in on a linebacker to give McFadden the crease.

  • Offensive tackle Dan Skipper would have received an extra two minutes for instigating if this was hockey for how he handled a one-on-one snap with defensive end Damontre Moore. After Moore was able to get Skipper on the ground, the tackle wouldn't let up, which upset Moore and caused a mini-fracas. Skipper has been involved in a few so far in camp.

  • Receiver Andy Jones is looking like he will get in the mix for one of the final receiver spots with how he has performed early in camp. He was on the end of a deep Prescott pass after getting separation on cornerback Anthony Brown. Jones was able to slow down just a touch to throw Brown's timing off and then accelerate at the last second to haul in the pass.

  • One-time quarterback Jameill Showers, now a safety, had his first pick of training camp, coming down with an underthrown ball from rookie QB Cooper Rush. The pass was intended for receiver Uzoma Nwachukwu, but Showers showed some range to get to the pass. In fairness, cornerback Sammy Seamster might have negated the takeaway with a pass interference penalty.