OK, so the guy who is replacing Marc Colombo, at least for now, is Robert Brewster. I'm sure Alex Barron will get a look when he's healthy. But in today's practice, Brewster was the man. Unfortunately, there was no opportunity to really evaluate him because the Cowboys were not in pads. The early part of practice was spent working on special teams. Two guys coach Joe D. really liked were Cletis Gordon and Chris Gronkowski. Gordon was the first one down to tackle (actually tag) the return man causing Joe D. to exclaim "If you could do that every time, forget about it!" Several players found that amusing and kept saying it to Cletis over the next couple of plays. Gronkowski was singled out twice by Joe in drills for staying in his lane and beating the blocks. We now know that coach prefers to call the fullback by the shortened "Ski". Jamar Wall also got a little love from coach.
And for comical purposes only, a small gopher/rodent/something got onto the field to the endless amusement of the offensive line, especially Bigg, Robert Brewster and coach Hudson Houck. One of the Cowboys field volunteers had to come out and grab it by the tail and remove it from the field.
Also, I saw Dez Bryant working out with the trainers and he was going at it pretty good. He was moving well and even using the resistance bands which had to put a lot of pressure on that ankle. Things are definitely looking good there.
After they broke into position groups and ran drills, they came back together for some 11-on-11. The session was heavily run-oriented and since they weren't in pads, not much could be gleamed from the session for the outsider. I'm sure the coaches were checking on how the players performed their assignments, etc. But for those watching off the field: runs+no pads= no excitement. Not much to report on this session.
Next up was redzone and goal line 11-on-11. This was also run-heavy (imagine that, Jason Garrett must have gotten a memo) and it took place on the far corner endzone where it was difficult to get a clear view, especially with the rest of the players standing in the way. Tony Romo managed to hit Miles Austin in the corner for a TD, and also threw a flare pass to Felix Jones but from my angle he would have been tackled before the endzone. Romo later hit Austin for another TD on a slant but was picked by Jamar Wall on a fade to the corner. His other pass was overthrown to Jason Witten. In between there were plenty of Marion Barber and Felix Jones runs, basically going through the full repertoire of power runs, counters, sweeps, etc. Jon Kitna's and Stephen McGee's sessions were dominated by runs.
They moved back for a regular session of 11-on-11 where Romo floated a nice, deep pass along the sidelines to Roy Williams who made a very good catch. After some runs, Romo had a couple of overthrows. The next time around he hit Austin twice but missed on passes to Crayton and Witten. Kitna had one bad pass but followed up with a nice out pattern to Patrick Crayton who had beaten Terence Newman. He later connected with Kevin Ogletree on an out pattern and hooked up with Crayton over the middle. McGee's session was marred by a broken play and a re-huddle when the offense couldn't get into the correct formation.
The only real excitement of the day came when they went to a hurry-up offense session for a two-minute drill. Romo ran an excellent drill leading to a TD after six plays. He and Austin had a mix-up on the first play but he came back and hit Witten, then connected with Crayton, back to Witten and back to Crayton. Then came the capper when he threw a beautiful pass to Witten who was tightly covered by Jason Williams. It was up the seam and the ball sailed over Williams' hands and Witten made a tough catch for a TD. It was classic Romo-to-Witten. Kitna moved the team in short increments up the field, it seemed to take forever, in fact I charted 11 plays on the drive and they still didn't score. Most of the passes were short, and they mainly went to Martellus Bennett and Felix Jones. Bradie James almost cut the drive short on the first play when he got his hands on a pass but couldn't pull in the interception.
Romo came back for a second shot and once again efficiently moved the team for a score. After throwing an incompletion towards Roy, he connected with Crayton over the middle, threw another short one to Crayton, found Austin on a crossing pattern, went to Witten over the middle and then threw the TD strike to Austin. Kitna followed with a couple of passes to Terrell Hudgins and one to Bennett. On the final play he threw a pass that Bennett and Keith Brooking battled for; I think Bennett actually caught it but the "referee" (a ball boy?) ruled it incomplete. They called practice after that.
Sorry for the thin report, but much of the action was running plays and the goal line/endzone stuff was hard to see. Maybe we'll get pads tomorrow