Cowboys and Broncos joint practices are essential for this reason

Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports /

Practicing on the west coast offers a variety of advantages. From weather, to real grass, to an expanded fan market, to a simple football-focused getaway, training camp in Oxnard is a great way to kickoff the preseason for the Dallas Cowboys.

An advantage that seems to be flying under the radar is the ability to practice with other teams you wouldn’t otherwise be able to practice against. West coast teams, particularly AFC teams, provide an excellent barometer in the preseason. And since they aren’t usually teams the Cowboys play in the regular season, Dallas doesn’t have to worry about tipping their hand too much.

Practicing against the Broncos will tell the Cowboys if their defense is really good or if it’s just beating up on a bad offense.

There are questions surrounding the Dallas Cowboys offense and as a result, the legitimacy of the Dallas defense. Early on in camp, the defense has been dominating. The interior defensive line has looked the best in years, the defensive ends seem able to compensate for the loss of Randy Gregory, the linebackers seem rock-solid, and the defensive secondary looks All-Star caliber.

To those who proclaimed “regression” on defense in 2022, the evidence on the field begs the contrary.

There are questions surrounding the Dallas Cowboys offense and as a result, the legitimacy of the Dallas defense

But until be know where the Cowboys offense is, we can’t definitively say whether it’s the defense that’s proving doubters wrong, or just an inept offense that’s to blame/credit. The Cowboys offense will start the season without three of their top-four receivers this year. In week 1 they’ll only have one WR with an NFL TD and only two with NFL receptions to their name.

The offensive line is in similar turmoil. The Cowboys roll into 2022 with questions abound. Is Dan Quinn’s defensive line really that improved or are they just feasting on subpar O-line play?

The Broncos can provide the answers.

The Cowboys start practicing against the Broncos on Thursday and the answers should soon follow. Denver is one of the more talented teams in the NFL, so if the Cowboys look good against them, we know the hype is real.

This is critical because the Cowboys absolutely need their offensive line to be strong in 2022. They cannot afford a repeat of last season, let alone regression from the big guys up front, if they hope to win this year.

Dak Prescott’s most reliable weapons are gone and he’s not going to have the trust in this rag tag team of merry men than he did with his star studded cast from last season. He’ll need time and that O-line needs to give him time.

Defensively, the Cowboys need their gains to be legit as well. The defense was up and down last season, relying on big plays and turnovers to keep them in the NFL’s upper ranks. For as fun as those things are, they are unsustainable and in order to see gains in 2022, more consistent play will be needed from everyone.

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The Dallas Cowboys finally get a measuring stick to test the legitimacy of their success. The actual game matters very little compared to the handful of practices that lie ahead with the Broncos.