FRISCO, Texas -- Almost quietly, training camp came to an end for the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday.
It sure was a strange 36-day odyssey that began with the Cowboys landing at Point Mugu Naval Air Station before heading to their summer home in Oxnard, California, and ended in front of 5,753 fans at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco on Tuesday.
They had 19 padded practices out of 23 workouts, played four preseason games and got a trip to Canton, Ohio, for Jerry Jones' induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"It's been great," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "Training camp has been really, really good, the environments that we practiced in in Oxnard, even when we practiced in Cleveland and then back here at The Star, it's been outstanding. And our players and coaches have responded really well to it. We have an unbelievable facility. And for us to be able to go in there and practice and practice in front of our fans in such a spirited environment, it certainly helps our team a great deal and I think our team has responded the right way."
If a team ever ends training camp without positive feelings, then they shouldn't even play the regular season. The Cowboys have no way of knowing right now whether their training camp work was fruitful. They will start to get an idea when the season begins Sept. 10 against the New York Giants.
But why not review camp with some awards that carry with it the prestige and honor of, well, not much, really?
So here it goes:
Best player, offense: If this award was coming out of their time in Oxnard, then right guard Zack Martin would have gotten the honor. It's not that he fell off at all when the team got back to Frisco. His work has been almost flawless, but given his position, Dak Prescott gets the award. In the padded practices, Prescott completed 213 of 296 passes in team and 7-on-7 drills with six interceptions over the life of camp. He was accurate. He was decisive. He looks ready for the season.
Best player, defense: This is why his knee injury the other night was such a killer, but Anthony Hitchens was the best defender from the first day of camp through his last day of camp. He is too often overlooked by those outside of the organization. He makes plays. He is dependable. He works every day. The Cowboys will miss him. Other candidates included Byron Jones, Orlando Scandrick and Maliek Collins.
Best rookie: It's not a draft pick, and that might not be a bad thing. It has to be undrafted quarterback Cooper Rush. He has not only put himself in position to make the 53-man roster, he could be Prescott's backup to start the season. In four preseason games he has completed 38 of 51 passes for 398 yards and six touchdown passes with no interceptions.
Biggest disappointment: The Cowboys entered training camp needing to find out what they have in their secondary, especially after seeing Barry Church, Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and J.J. Wilcox walk in free agency.
Injuries to draft picks Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Xavier Woods and Marquez White prevented them from truly showing everything they could potentially be. Veteran free-agent pickup Nolan Carroll II was OK, but had too many down days compared to up days. Facing a Giants offense with good receivers throughout, especially if Odell Beckham Jr. plays, will be a difficult task in the opener. They weren't able to shore up any answers in camp.
Biggest disappointment, rookie: It has to be that Lewis practiced fully just once because of a hamstring strain. He is just now seeing some light duties in practice, but it seems a stretch to think he will be able to help in Week 1 against the Giants.
Most unfortunate injury: A case can be made for Hitchens because of what he means to the defense, but I am going a different route. It goes to cornerback Duke Thomas. He suffered a high ankle sprain and knee injury returning a kickoff against the Oakland Raiders. He is likely out for a long time and the injury cost him a chance to make the 53-man roster. If there is a shred of good news for him, I believe the Cowboys saw enough from him to want to keep him around, so he will likely head to injured reserve.
Final roster decisions: We'll offer up a final prognostication after Thursday's game, but just to let you know I felt pretty good about the 52 selections I made but I struggled with the 53rd. Some of it comes down to injury. Some of it comes to just a guess, but the final few spots, in my mind, come down to tight end Rico Gathers, linebacker Mark Nzeocha, defensive lineman Lewis Neal, defensive tackle Joey Ivie, White at corner and offensive lineman Emmett Cleary.