It was a good event. The Cowboys invited many Former Cowboys out to the practice. Names like Darren Woodson, Dexter Coakley, Tony Castillas, Thomas Henderson, Mel Renfro, Cliff Harris, Randy White and Roger Staubach were in attendance. Hearing the crowd reaction to the clip of certain Legends on the sideline was a nice gesture by the fans. Showing appreciation for these players and what they have meant to this great organization. For entertainment, both The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and the Rhythm and Blue Team performed. They looked like they were in Mid-season form. So did the Miller Lite girls.
As far as Football went, I found it to be a good experience. It was not all good as there are still some communication issues that need to be worked out and some plays that got away from a couple of players, but the Cowboys got better. They showed improvement and got that much closer to being ready for the September 5th Season Opener against the Giants. During the Practice, Jason Garrett spoke again of competing and how that the players that he had come to work everyday. Everyone is happy to be back home and sleeping in their own beds after they put in that good training camp. The practice was mainly used to simulate plays to get ready for the Rams on both sides of the ball. Rob Ryan later added that the Team was getting better everyday and improving and is really excited about the season.
The Cowboys started with walk through and I was very impressed with Dwayne Harris. He adjusted to the ball, brought them in and ran good routes. James Hanna had an early drop, but that was his only mistake. He rebounded well and had a decent practice. In the first part of these walk-throughs, Romo and Orton were throwing some good balls, even though the Defense was allowing them to do whatever they wanted for the sake of seeing how the plays are developing. Lionel Smith even ducked a pass to let Danny Coale’s catch it later on in the practice. I thought that Dan Connor covered good ground out there. Kyle Wilber would have made a good fair of plays if this wasn’t just a simulation. Both he and Morris Claibourne were looking good out there. Tim Benford is not going to WOW you, but he does his job. Whatever you want him to do, he is going to go out there and do it. He was very consistent out there and Consistency is close friends to the QBs. He did have a nice catch at the end of practice where he had to lay out for the ball. His effort and concentration is to be commended. Two players that I wanted to see more of were Cole Beasley and Andre Holmes. For some strange reason, QBs could not link up with the smallest or the tallest Receiver out there. They both made plays during the practice, but more could have been done. Two examples are a miscommunication between Romo and Beasley and an under thrown ball to Holmes. He had three of those during the practice.
After the first walkthrough, the team broke up into positions at started doing position workouts. One thing of interest for me was seeing the Wideouts take contact with the pads working their way up the field. It is clear that getting Yards after the Catch is something that is preached to them.
The third part of Practice consisted of more individual workouts. Lionel Smith was looking good on his back pedals and him, Claiborne, Edwards and Carr excelled in ball drills. On Offense, Ogletree, Szerba, Danny Coale and Joh Phillips had a drop. Phillips had a few during practice but he showed great effort and hustled on every play. (Coale had some nice Stabs as well. He shows good hand eye coordination and has strong hands.) I thought that the Running backs did a great job of catching the ball. Jamize Olawele made some good adjustments on the ball and had a solid practice.
After the individual workouts, they had another walk through. Kyle Wilber, Seasn Lissemore, Jason Hatcher, Victor Butler and Anthony Spencer was in the right place in both the passing game and in the run game. I took notes on each play during the practice and the name I kept writing down was Jason Hatcher. I hope he has a good year. The Offense went over their Red zone packages and they were crisp. Each receiver had good catches. What you noticed immediately is how much faster Saalim Hakim is. He did not get that many touches in practice but he showed solid hands and was blazingly fast even in a walk through setting. David Little would be the one receiver that I noticed that seemed lost and uncertain at times. Running back Javarris Williams needs to do a better job getting North and South. He dances at times and when the play calls for him to get to the outside, he needs to get there faster.
The Cowboys then went through a round of team workouts. This is when I thought that they Defense started to pick up their intensity. After Cole Beasley got behind Scandrick for what would have been a huge gain, you noticed a change in play. On another play, Romo was under pressure by Scandrick and McCray but found a way to make a good throw to Beasley in the soft spot of the Defense. Sean Lee made his way over for the would be Tackle. Felix Jones was open on the play but Romo was looking up field all the way, even with the pressure. In the running game, DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones showed good vision and footwork. Thought that our Offensive line could have done a better job pushing the defense back. Even in a limited practice I expected more from them. Kyle Orton had a good pass to end this part of practice to John Phillips over the middle.
Following another round of special team drills, the Cowboys continued their walk through. The right side of our line is a little concerning. Pressure and would be sacks kept coming from that side by multiple players. Wilber, Hatcher, Connor, Spencer all were in position to make sacks. The catch of the day was Raymond Radway going up against two defenders bobbled the catch and had enough focus to bring it in. Jason Hatcher showed up numerous times in the run game. Him and Lissemore made life rough for the running backs. It seemed like in these drills every time Lance Dunbar got the rock he was met by Lissemore. But I did see some good things from Lance, and the one bad thing was on a slightly overthrown ball that I thought he should have been able to bring it in. James Hanna once again had another good catch. The next pass was to Andre Holmes from Stephen McGee. Stephen McGee made some good moves to get the ball away, but Owusu-Ansah would have had the sack. Rob Ryan is not shy about sending DBs off the corner. Both Akwansi and Scandrick did well on these. Lawrence Vickers was one of the players that really ran through his routes and runs. Reports of his work ethic were dead on. Phillips drops one catch and then makes a turnaround grab on the next one. Brandon Carr would have probably had two or three interceptions if he really wanted to. He had a couple of deflections and he never forced it. Carpenter struggled at times even when completing throws. He threw well, but needs to work on throwing his receivers open. CJ Wilson jumped a perfect spiral to Szerba. He later under threw Andre Holmes in the red zone. Jason Hatcher had a stretch of plays where he would have had three sacks and a stop in five plays. The Defensive Backs showed me what they were made of when during a red zone drill Romo had nowhere to throw the ball to. Mario Butler, Brandon Carr, Danny McCray and Lionel Smith all had good practices. Morris Claibourne was good in the limited activity that he received. Orton had two bad throws during the entire practice. One might have been a communication issue as Orie Lemon was right in the middle of the field eating a bag of popcorn (Exaggerating) when he caught Orton’s errant pass. A few plays later and McCray picks off Romo.
Special Teams Note: Dwayne Harris, Felix Jones and Kevin Ogletree were returning kicks. Dwayne Harris on Punt returns as well. Dwayne Harris and Felix Jones had drops, but they also showed the ability to get up field, especially on Kick offs. Kevin Olgetree showed good vision on one of the kickoffs and would have had a good gain. Two guys who stood out on the coverage team was McCray and Butler. Chris Jones was good. Delbert Alverado had some high punts, but needs to work on getting them deeper down the field to give the coverage team more time to get there. Dan Bailey had a good practice. He went through his progressions twice and did not miss.