Cowboys News: Prescott pops, COVID updates, IR loss, that ‘Hard Knocks’ drone shot

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In the final week of preseason football, the Dallas Cowboys have a lot to figure out. A multitude of players and coaches are currently in COVID protocol, limiting their preparation for Week 1 and raising questions about when they’ll each be back. Running back Rico Dowdle has also been lost, but his absence will be felt for longer after being placed on season-ending IR.

The Cowboys won’t have to wait much longer to unleash Dak Prescott, though; the starting quarterback rejoined team drills on Wednesday to rave reviews. Cowboys team owner Jerry Jones spoke highly of backup Cooper Rush, though, saying the offense would be efficient if he had to be the starter during the regular season. Jones also made headlines of a different sort with one NFL agent who had some harsh words for the Dallas boss.

In the player countdown to the regular season, there are four new entries with the profiles on linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Luke Gifford, defensive end Bradlee Anae, and left guard Connor Williams.

And the story behind that epic Hard Knocks drone shot is as crazy as the three-minutes of footage that opened this week’s episode. This is Wednesday’s Cowboys News and Notes.

Dak Prescott throws with some ‘pop’ as he returns to Dallas Cowboys practice :: Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Link Cowboys starting quarterback Dak Prescott participated in a competitive practice situation on Wednesday for the first time since July 27th. He completed 11 of 12 passes over nearly 20 snaps during team seven-on-seven drills and earned accolades from teammates. "He's throwing the ball with some pop," running back Ezekiel Elliott said. "I'm excited to get him back." -TB

Damontae Kazee and Connor Williams test positive; placed on Cowboys' COVID list :: Cowboys Wire

Link After adding four players to the Reserve/COVID-19 list recently (CeeDee Lamb, Malik Hooker, Israel Mukuamu, Carlos Watkins), the Cowboys have added two more on Wednesday as Damontae Kazee and Connor Williams have tested positive. -ML

Cowboys get one player back from COVID/Reserve list :: Calvin Watkins (Twitter)

RB Rico Dowdle lands on IR, ending season, here's who Cowboys may turn to:: Cowboys Wire

Link Rico Dowdle has had a good training camp and preseason and looked to be a lock for the third running back spot on the Cowboys roster for 2021. Unfortunately, a hip injury has landed him on injured reserve and ended his season. Now, the Cowboys will look to undrafted rookies JaQuan Hardy and Brenden Knox to fill the RB3 role. -ML

Mailbag: Potential Roster Cut or Trades? :: The Mothership

Link David Helman and Rob Phillips of discuss roster moves that could be made before the season kicks off in September. A potential trade for a defensive tackle was mentioned with the injury to Neville Gallimore and Trysten Hill yet to make an appearance after tearing his ACL in 2020. Also, moves for a backup quarterback and swing tackle were talked about. -ML

Unvaccinated players cut next week will be at a major disadvantage in the chase for jobs elsewhere :: ProFootballTalk

Link Next week, a flood of 864 men will be sent packing from NFL training camps when final cuts are announced. Mike Florio reports that those who aren't vaccinated against COVID-19 will have a harder time surviving the scramble to latch on with a new club, since they'll have to wait five days before joining a new team. Vaccinated players can take a new gig immediately. -TB

Cowboys CB Trevon Diggs, safety Donovan Wilson miss practice for different reasons :: Cowboys Wire

Link The Cowboys secondary had taken a hit this week. Safeties Malik Hooker and Israel Mukuamu were added to the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Now, the two cornerstone pieces of the backend for the Cowboys missed Wednesday's practice. Trevon Diggs was out due to an illness, and Donovan Wilson is dealing with a groin injury. -ML

Micah Parsons lobbies for RB gig after high school footage hits social media :: Micah Parsons (Twitter)

DE Bradlee Anae looking for opportunity to prove to Cowboys he's capable :: Cowboys Wire

Link After a disappointing rookie season where defensive end Bradlee Anae didn't get many opportunities to prove his worth, he enters his sophomore season with a chance to earn playing time as a rotational pass rusher. This is part of our player countdown series for the regular season. -CB

Luke Gifford's fighting for more than a single snap with Cowboys in 2021 :: Cowboys Wire

Link For Cowboys linebacker Luke Gifford, this is a challenging training camp. Competing for a roster spot with another new staff, he is tasked with trying to impress the new coaches while competing with the new blood in the linebacker room. This is part of our player countdown series for the regular season. -CB

The former future of the Cowboys' LBs, Leighton Vander Esch faces crucial year for his own timeline :: Cowboys Wire

Link With a cast of new talent in the linebacker room, Leighton Vander-Esch will have ample opportunity to make plays in 2021. If he's able to stay healthy, this could be a huge year for No. 55. This is part of our player countdown series for the regular season. -CB

Cowboys guard Connor Williams enters pivotal contract season looking to increase his value :: Cowboys Wire

Link With the offensive line healthy in 2021, left guard Connor Williams has a huge opportunity to become a hefty-paid man if he performs well. Williams has been able to stay healthy during his career and it increases his value in a contract year. If he steps up, will Dallas be able to hold on to him? This is part of our player countdown series for the regular season. -CB

Jerry Jones says Cowboys ‘can do everything’ with Cooper Rush at QB :: Cowboys Wire

Link Throughout training camp and preseason, the backup quarterback spot has been up for grabs. After a big performance, Cooper Rush has ascended to the spot and team owner Jerry Jones believes he can lead the offense if there was an absence of Dak Prescott. -CB

NFL Agent Rips Cowboys' Jerry Jones: 'He's a Narcissist ... He Plays GM Like a Fan' :: Bleacher Report

Link You either love or you hate Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. A recent survey by NFL agents caused mixed reactions, with one bashing the 78-year Hall of Famer. -ML

Azur Kamara’s feel-good path from West Africa to the Dallas Cowboys :: Texas Monthly

Link Cowboys fans may have been introduced to linebacker Azur Kamara via a quick segment on HBO, but the Ivory Coast kid's remarkable journey is well worth a deeper dive. The 22-year-old hasn't made the team yet, but he's already come a long way from a childhood that included walking miles from his village just to retrieve water and sharing a cramped, mud-walled home with more than a dozen relatives. -TB

Viral FPV drone video of Dallas Cowboys’ HQ took 15 attempts to film :: DroneDJ

Link Without question, the biggest star of Hard Knocks' third episode was The Star itself, as shown in jaw-dropping detail during an uninterrupted three-minute opening shot that took viewers on a POV tour of seemingly all of the complex's 91 acres. The story behind the epic footage is pretty insane, too: with a three-hour window in which to nail the shot, the crew guessed they'd get 15 tries. They got it on the 15th and final opportunity. -TB