Practice was in shells this afternoon. Stephen Hodge dressed out but never managed to participate, he continued to work with the trainers instead. TE John Phillips took some reps as a long snapper early before practice started, joining LP Ladouceur and Matt Stewart. Early on they ran punt drills and Mat McBriar was booming the kicks, I counted at least three between 60-65 yards with nice hang time. They only had two punt returners catching the ball as they practiced coverage, Patrick Crayton and Felix Jones. That might be an indication of the direction they want to go.
After stretching they moved into positional drills and they added a new one today, the LBs covering the RBs on pass patterns. I didn't catch the whole thing but here's what I did see. Bobby Carpenter deflected a pass for Felix Jones but had held Felix before that to be in position. Marion Barber was able to shake free of Jason Williams, Asaph Schwapp caught a pass on Jason Williams but Williams was able to get his hands in and poke it free. Keon Lattimore got a step on Carpenter but the pass was overthrown. Brooking had good coverage on MB3, Felix and Williams collided at the break on the pattern knocking Williams down leaving Felix open. Choice cooked Carpenter on a long pass, Schwapp got a short one on Williams, and Lattimore was able to beat Brooking.
Make the jump.
While this was going on Hudson Houck was working with the whole line, including the TEs on run blocking from 2-TE sets. Mainly they worked on Witten coming down the line on a wham block or shuffling him into the backfield as a lead blocker. The DBs were working with Dave Campo on zone coverage responsibilities especially with two receivers crossing on the same side of the field. The WRs were going through the passing tree but did an extra session where they worked on double-moves on long patterns.
They broke up for 7-on-7 and OL/DL matchups. I followed the 7-on-7 so I could get a feel on the "Roy Question" that everybody seems to be concerned with. In general, what I saw was Romo hitting the first-read when it was open and that wasn't always Roy, accounting for stretches where Roy didn't see the ball. They were also using Roy to clear out the safeties deep or attracting two defenders in a zone and the QB hit the guy left open or the guy with single-coverage. For instance, Romo started off with a pass to Witten deep over the middle but Roy had taken the safety with him on a deep post opening up the middle zone. On the next play, Jenkins and Ware bracketed Roy in coverage leaving MB3 wide open in the underneath zone. Miles Austin ran a nice fade-stop along the sideline to beat Jenkins who had tight coverage but didn't put on the brakes quick enough to get back to the ball. Witten caught a slant, then they motioned Felix out wide and since Romo couldn't hit his primary read he dumped it to Felix in the flats. Romo then made a mistake and didn't see Mike Hamlin (Hamlin2?) in the middle and he almost picked it off but the pass was high and he just couldn't grab it, but he did break up the pass.
Kitna tried to Roy on a crossing pattern but the ball went just off the end of Roy's fingertips. Willie Reid made a nice catch on a crossing pattern, Kitna dumped one short to Alonzo Coleman, then hit Crayton deep who had gotten by T-New. McGee hit Julian Hawkins short over the middle and Bradie laid a pop on him that sent him to the turf but he held on to the ball. In a rarity for 7-on-7, McGee couldn't find anybody open on the next play, so he tucked the ball and ran it.
Romo hit Crayton deep over the middle again as Roy had cleared the safety from the zone. Witten got open on a deep in for a catch, Bennett caught one over the middle as Hamlin2 was late getting over, and then Hurd made a spectacular diving catch on the sidelines. Caryton beat Mike Mickens on an out pattern, then Romo forced one into double coverage of Hurd by Hamlin and Watkins, and Dave Campo managed to get in the way, leading to a mess and an incomplete pass. Kitna dumped one to Felix, then hit Kevin Ogletree on a seam route, followed by another short pass where he missed the read of an open receiver downfield. He closed by hitting Julian Hawkins on a deep pass, Hawkins had lost Courtney Brown on the coverage. Rudy Carpenter then hit Manuel Johnson on a dig route and then dumped a short one to Rodney Hannah.
After the water break, the all came together for a closing session of 11-on-11. MB3 tried a run but Rat blew it up in the backfield and Spencer got in on the tackle because Kosier was too slow on his pull-block. Next they blitzed Sensabaugh who got picked up by the back, leaving T-New alone with Crayton, Crayton was able to beat T-New and haul in a long bomb. Romo audibled the next time to a draw for MB3 and he found a lot of room up the middle before Sensabaugh finally made the stop. Romo audibled again and hit Hurd in the flats. MB3 followed with a short run, then Romo checked-down to a short pass to Hurd.
Kitna gave it to Choice on a run and he made some nice cuts before Watkins made the stop. John Phillips had a nice catch on a well-thrown ball that was over Matt Stewart's head but before the oncoming Hamlin. Hurd ended up wide open for a catch after Courtney Brown fell down. Marcus Spears clogged up a running play, then Willie Reid got open over the middle because the MLB's blitzed but the line gave Kitna time. McGee had to avoid a collapsing pocket and ran the ball, then he hit Phillips who made a nice catch just beating the attempt of Alan Ball to break it up. Lattimore had a short run outside then Spears penetrated the line and blocked a pass in the backfield.
Romo was back and threw a 10-yd pass to Roy up the seam and then MB3 had a short run up the middle. Romo led Austin to the sideline of the endzone but the pass just bounced off Austin's out-stretched fingertips for an incompletion. Witten made a very nice catch for about 15-yds while managing to keep his feet in-bounds, then came a nice surprise. The defensive line rushed and looked like they were going to sack Romo, but they had a screen set up for Bennett who caught it and followed Bigg and Kosier for major yards. Romo finished by hitting Bennett in the flats but Carpenter was all over him for the tackle.
Kitna and Felix collided in the backfield on a blown handoff, but Kitna atoned on the next play by hitting Austin for a TD, Austin had beat coverage by Ball and Brown. The pocket collapsed on the next play leading to a sack, then Kitna pulled a roll-out that fooled Octavien on the pass rush leaving him open to toss it to Ogletree, then he hit Willie Reid in the endzone for a completion. Rudy Carpenter dumped one short to Lattimore, Hatcher tipped the next pass in the backfield for an incompletion, Carpenter then made a really bad throw, and finished by trying to hit Phillips but Sensabaugh swooped in to break it up.
Practice was over. Today was by far the best I'd seen the offense operate in camp, they got the better of the defense on numerous occasions. Tomorrow is a two-a-day but the morning session is a walk-through so I probably won't cover that. In the meantime, I will try to post another summary that will include who I think is doing well and who needs to step up their game.