Defense wins. Offense loses. That was the theme of today's organized team activity. The passing game looked, as Roy Williams said, "sloppy". There were some center-quarterback exchange problems and blown assignments on the O-line.
On the other end of the offense's miscues, the defensive backs came up big--particularly Courtney Brown and Alan Ball. Brown showed his cornerback skills by swatting away a couple of passes. Ball, who subbed in for Ken Hamlin (personal business) as the 1st-team free safety, picked off a Jon Kitna pass and provided the defense with some nice center-fielding skills.
Make the jump for today's practice observations from Tim MacMahon, Josh Ellis, and Matt Mosely.
*We got a glimpse of the Marion Barber/Felix Jones I formation, something the Cowboys tinkered with last summer but rarely used during the regular season. Barber got a play-fake on a dive behind the right guard, then Tony Romo flicked a counter pitch to Jones, who scooted around the left end.
*When the offense was working against air, TE Martellus Bennett dropped a pass. That prompted Jason Witten to holler, "C'mon now!" in an encouraging tone. Bennett didn't drop another ball all practice. He made a tough, twisting catch on an out while barely getting both feet in bounds during team drills.
*Witten isn't perfect, either. He committed a false start, prompting Jason Garrett to replace him for a play, something that has been happening on a regular basis with offensive players who jump. But RT Marc Colombo wasn't having any of it, shoving Robert Brewster out of the way when the rookie tried to replace Colombo after a false start. There appeared to be an issue with Romo's cadence, as Kitna replaced him for a couple of snaps with the starters.
* Last week it was Crayton, but this week Tashard Choice was taking the snaps in the 'Razorback' offense, with Felix Jones coming in motion. The Cowboys split Tony Romo out wide, and had him circle behind the play as if to fake a reverse. The Cowboys showed the formation maybe three times.
* Roy Williams had a nice catch on a route over the middle, sticking up one hand to knock the ball into his chest and corralling it in the open field.
* With center-quarterback exchanges a problem for much of the day, those two positions stayed after practice for extra work, and Wade Phillips said they would work on snapping more before OTAs conclude Wednesday.
Let me be as diplomatic as possible here: The offense was atrocious during Tuesday's session. Tony Romo barely had time to get off a pass, and when he did, the ball was dropped by wide receivers. I guess we should expect some of this when a free-agent rookie named Kevin Ogletree is the No. 3 receiver. But still, there are far too many mistakes.
Former first-round pick Bobby Carpenter received shouts of praise from linebackers coach Reggie Herring when he made a nice recovery on a naked bootleg play on which Romo was trying to hit Martellus Bennett.
Tight end Martellus Bennett is drawing rave reviews from my guys in the scouting community. It's almost impossible for safeties and linebackers to cover him. And he's starting to use his size to his advantage. It's pretty startling to see a 265-pound guy come out of break and absolutely lose a safety.