The Cowboys were in full pads this morning in what turned out to be a very spirited practice. Things were getting a little chippy on the field, a couple of defensive players decided to tackle the ball carriers and there was some physical play from both sides.
As usual, they started with special teams, this time with punt drills. The gunners were practicing on one side and that group included Pat Watkins, Orlando Scandrick, Miles Austin, DeAngelo Smith, Courtney Brown and Alan Ball. At the other end punt formations were going on, Joe DeCamillis uses three protectors on punts, the first unit was Steve Octavien, Tashard Choice and Deon Anderson, the second group was David Buehler, Sam Hurd and Jerome Carter. Catching punts was the regular group of Terence Newman, Patrick Crayton, Willie Reid, Felix Jones and DeAngelo Smith.
After stretching and warm-ups they went into a feisty session of 9-on-9 while the WRs/CBs battled on the other side. I followed the 9-on-9 this morning. The first run was by MB3 up the middle but Igor Olshansky knifed into the backfield to stop it, MB3 tried another run towards the outside but DeMarcus Ware pursued it down the line to catch him before it could really get going. MB3 did manage to get a nice gain on a run to the right on the next play. Felix Jones started a run outside but cutback to the middle for around 5-yds before Bobby Carpenter made the stop. Doug Free had a false start and was replaced, then Felix took the handoff and after Julius Crosslin and Jason Williams had a big collision in the backfield, Jason Hatcher moved in for the stop. Choice tried the middle and got a few yards before Carpenter stopped him and started a little of the rough stuff that characterized the day by not just touching Choice but wrestling with him for a bit. Alonzo Coleman had a nice run through a big hole up the middle, next Victor Butler got fooled and gave up contain allowing Coleman to get wide on a pitch play. They followed with a draw to Coleman but Pat Watkins snuffed it out. Ware blew right by a Jason Witten block to stuff MB3, next MB3 had a short run, then Felix blew through a big hole up the middle. Felix then slipped the next run to the right and outran Carpenter who was in pursuit and turned it upfield for a nice gain. Choice then had a run to the right side but Carpenter made the stop and pushed Choice to the turf in a little more extra-curricular activity.
The next session was 11-on-11 with the defense lining up in a nickel package on some of the plays. The four down lineman on the nickel were Anthony Spencer, Jay Ratliff, Stephen Bowen and DeMarcus Ware. Carpenter replaced Keith Brooking in this package. Tony Romo started it off with a draw to MB3 for about 5-yds before Bradie James made the tackle. After a swing pass to MB3, Romo threw a bullet that threaded the needle between two defenders for a Martellus Bennett catch. Octavien got good pressure on the next play and probably would have got the sack so Romo tucked it and ran. Romo dumped one short to Felix but Brooking made the stop, then they ran a draw to Felix who had a big gain up the middle.
Kitna came on and threw to Bennett in the flats, then threw and incompletion after Carpenter broke through for what would have been a sack. Spencer broke through to stop Coleman in the backfield, but they let the play run some more and Coleman ran into Mike Jenkins - Coleman stiff-armed Jenks in the facemask which got Jenks upset and they wrestled around a bit after the whistle. Stephen McGee took over and made a nifty little flip-pass to Keon Lattimore while under pressure but Ratliff was there and he ended up tackling Lattimore to the turf. On the next play McGee lofted a floater to the sidelines which Kevin Ogletree caught but was probably out-of-bounds.
Romo was back and tried a draw to MB3 but Brandon Williams stopped it quickly, the next play Romo dropped back to pass but nothing came open and Romo had to hold the ball, frustrated, he just spiked it to the turf. Next, he hit Witten for 10-yards, then he had to avoid pressure from Butler and hit Miles Austin for 20-yds or so over the middle. Kitna hit Mike Jefferson in front of Mike Mickens, then got flushed from the pocket and tried to hit Crayton but Kitna was clearly past the line of scrimmage.
After a short water break they formed up for another round of 11-on-11. They were using quite a bit of 2-TE sets in today's sessions. Romo tried a hitch-screen to Roy but the pass was low and Roy couldn't scoop it up. MB3 tried to get wide on a run but Ware and T-New shut it off. Romo tried to hit Roy deep over the middle but Ken Hamlin swooped in at the last second to break it up. Felix ran a draw play and made a move that broke Bradie James' ankles in the hole and then he ripped off a nice gain. Austin made a nice catch for 15-yds or so beating Courtney Brown. Felix ran another draw for 10-yds before Jason Williams made the stop.
Kitna threw into the flats to Manuel Johnson and Scandrick made the tackle, Jefferson then dropped a pass that hit him right in the hands while he was wide open. DE Derreck Robinson blew right by an attempted block from Greg Isdaner to stop a Coleman run, then Butler had pressure again, probably a sack, but the play continued and Kitna hit Bennett for 15-yds or so. McGee threw to Jesse Holley in the flats and he made a nice move on DeAngelo Smith and Courtney Brown to get some extra yards. Lattimore tried a run but Derreck Robinson shot through the line again, this time beating Turkovich, and stuffed it for a loss.
Romo's last session started with a swing pass to MB3 that Brooking tracked down for a stop, then on the next play Rat was so quick getting through the line he actually hit Romo's arm as he attempted a quick pass to the flats and it fell incomplete. Crayton then caught one in the flats, Witten caught a short one, then Austin collected a pass in front of Jenkins for good yards. MB3 finished Romo's session with a nice run.
Kitna overthrew Hurd and then Choice ran the ball for a good gain. Kitna then threw a pass to the endzone from around 20-yds out that Roy Williams caught making a nice play beating DeAngelo Smith. Matt Stewart then stuffed a Coleman run. Rudy Carpenter threw one to Jefferson on the sidelines and then finished the practice with a throw-away pass out-of-bounds.
I'll be back this afternoon for a second practice.