The good news is that Jason Garrett is spending a lot of time in these practices teaching the fundamentals and doing drills. The bad news is it makes for a slightly boring practice to watch. But come the regular season, we may fully appreciate this time spent teaching the players the way he wants things done.
As you may have heard, Jay Ratliff didn't practice, Montrae Holland was still out, Alan Ball was out, and Mike Jenkins was out there but didn't fully participate. That left Orlando Scandrick and Bryan McCann as the main cornerbacks. If you're looking for the guy next in line at corner, it looked like Mario Butler was getting a lot of the reps in nickel/dime situations.
Practice opened with special teams, mainly punt coverage and returns. Bryan McCann and Dwayne Harris were handling most of the punt returns with Kevin Ogletree, AOA and Andrew Sendejo as the up-blockers. Practice then moved into a very long session of teaching and skills drills, lasting a good two hours with a short 11-on-11 mixed in. Basically the offense ran passing drills against no defense, while the defense practiced a lot of nickel/dime formations against fake offensive sets represented by other defensive players.
The brief 11-on-11 session that broke up these drills consisted of rookies and second- and third-stringers. Stephen McGee was the QB during these drills. Lonyae Miller started it off with a short run to the right, then Victor Butler knocked down a pass at the line. Butler then blew by Tyron Smith for a sack, but the play went through with Mario Butler breaking up a pass for Jesse Holley. A sweep ended up getting nothing, Shaun Chapas caught a swing pass for some good yards, then another sweep with Chapas getting a block on V. Butler. Sean Lissemore stuffed a run up the middle, then on a pass another blown blocking assignment with Alex Albright coming free into the backfield to kill the play. A run up the middle went for a short gain, then a swing pass to Jason Pociask for another short gain. Pociask is now working as a fullback. For a second time, nobody blocked Albright for a blown play. The session ended with a short run to the right side.
Some of the drills included LBs working on their coverage drops, WRs and RBs holding onto the ball while another guy tried to tug it out, the balls were attached to short bungee cords. The D-line and LBs worked on making a tackle on a dummy, then getting off the tackle and recovering a loose ball. The offense practiced a lot of screen formations in this period, something they've done regularly in the past few days. Garrett was also very involved with the WRs in making sure they ran proper routes. He spent a good deal of time on this, Jimmy Robinson was also back on the field coaching the WRs. Good news there.
About the two hour mark we got into some sessions of 11-on-11 that included the starters. Romo worked first and hit Felix on a screen pass that went for a long gain, but it's possible Bradie James would have shut it down in live-action as he came on a blitz and was in Romo's grill. It was good to see David Arkin sprinting down the field helping to lead Felix on the screen. They ran another screen to Miller with Kyle Kosier leading him, Sean Lee eventually made the stop. They ran a WR screen with Tyron Smith getting outside quickly to lead the charge. The offense tried a flea-flicker with Felix getting a toss and sending it back to Romo for a pass, but Gerald Sensabaugh was blitzing and blew it up.
Kitna came on and tried a reverse to Dwayne Harris but Jason Hatcher was having none of that, stopping it deep in the backfield. Felix tried a short run, then on a toss sweep to Frank Warren the second-string line created a nice crease for him to run through. On the next run, Sensabaugh and Lee filled the hole for a short gain, then Spencer and Lee did the same on another run. On a toss sweep, V. Butler got by a Chapas block to stuff the play. There were a few more runs in this session but nothing of note except that Jason Pociask showed some good pop on his lead blocks.
Romo rolled back in and handed it off to Felix who followed Kosier on a nice pull block for a good gain. Chris Gronkowski caught a short swing pass and had a ton of open field in front of him for a big gain. Romo then overthrew Jason Witten on the sideline and Abram Elam made an acrobatic interception, managing to stay in-bounds. The offense tried a run but Sensabaugh got by Tyron Smith to stop it. Ogletree caught a short one over the middle, then Miller ran a sweep and got a good block by Chapas on V. Butler to get outside.
Kitna took over and tried a run to the left but the defense strung it out to the sideline. A short dump pass to John Phillips was followed by a short run up the middle, and then a high pass to Phillips was broken up by Alex Ibiloye. McGee's turn started with a sack by Albright, then on the next play Albright shot around the edge to stop a run.
More 11-on-11. Romo hit Holley for a nice catch over McCann, Scandrick broke up a pass, then DeMarcus Ware worked Smith for what should have been a sack, but Romo went through with the play and threw a gift INT to Elam, his second INT of the day. Jason Hatcher got past David Arkin after Romo had nowhere to throw because of good coverage. Miller made a short catch, then Dwayne Harris made a good catch over the middle in traffic. Kitna hit Bennett on a pass over Lee, then threw short to Harris, then had two bad passes in a row. McGee was sacked when Jimmy Saddler-McQueen blew past Jose Acuna, then threw a short dump off.
Romo hit Witten over the middle after his line did a good job of picking up a major blitz. He threw short to Witten again, then threw to Ogletree short, but 'Tree' dropped it. Next, Ware blew threw the line so Kosier had to hold his jersey to stop him from getting to Romo, then Romo got plenty of time and Ogletree deep. Kitna had nothing as Sean Lissemore came though the middle of the line, then James Cleveland caught one in front of Ross Weaver. Weaver picked up a couple of pass interference calls in the session. Lee came on a blitz to disrupt the next play, then Chris Randle has a nice pass breakup. Saddler-McQueen batted down a pass at the line.
The final session was a situational down and distance and time drill. The offense started on their own 8-yard line with 2:21 left on the clock. On first down Gronkowski caught a short pass and the defense called time out. After a short run up the middle it was the 2-minute warning, and on third down they stopped a run and called timeout, forcing the offense to punt. Dwayne Harris caught the punt around the 40-yard line and Kitna took over the offense going the other way with about 1:43 left.
On first down he hit Bennett for a good gain and a first down, then Kitna hit Holley on a short pass which Holley managed to run out-of-bounds. On second down Radway had a false start, then Ogletree caught a short pass. On third down Phillips dropped a pass after being screened by Barry Church. On 4th down, Kitna had to scramble away from an intense rush then hit Jesse Holley on a diving catch to get the first down. The offense was now down to 34 seconds left. Kitna threw a bad pass on first down, threw out of the endzone on second down, then Austin dropped a pass on third down. On fourth down with about 18 seconds left, Bennett caugh a pass that got a first down and the offense spiked the ball. Time for one last play, Kitna took a shot at the endzone but Church had good coverage on Bennett and it was incomplete.
End of practice.