Today marked the kickoff to the early work for the Dallas Cowboys. While the 2012 training camp officially kicks off next week, rookies, quarterbacks and players that were injured and missed part of the offseason work were allowed to report to camp yesterday and get on the field today. 42 players in all were in attendance today; roughly half of the 90 man off season roster.
The first thing that should be noted is that the work today, and reportedly until next Wednesday, will all be without pads; just like the OTAs and minicamps. So, there won't be much worthwhile discussions about the defensive and offensive line battles, although that doesn't keep folks from noticing the athletic exploits of those manning the positions.
Newly signed rookie corner Morris Claiborne got his first on field action of the summer under his belt today. "Pick Six" had missed the entire off season schedule while recovering from wrist surgery. Today he got in on the action, lining up at the right cornerback position. Free agent Brandon Carr has been moved to left corner since joining Dallas, so ol' Mo' will have to swing from (most) quarterback's blind sides.
Follow the jump to read up on first impressions plus other pre-training camp news.
It was the first on-the-field work for cornerback Morris Claiborne, which was good to see. Claiborne lined up at right corner and had some plays where he did a nice job, but also some plays where he looked rusty. Secondary coach Jerome Henderson was standing to Claiborne's side of the field every time he was in the drills and coaching him after every play. The first play that Claiborne defended was a vertical route by Tim Benford, who ran by him and created separation. As Beneford [sic] went up the field, Claiborne was trying to close the gap, but actually slowed up when he saw Teddy Williams trying to help from the other side of the field. Williams misplayed the ball, but Benford dropped it. Later in the period, Henderson had to correct Claiborne because of his hand placement on the receiver down the field. Instead of jamming him inside, his hands got outside the frame of the body and he was grabbing. Henderson also corrected Claiborne on how he needed to squeeze the receiver more when he was in coverage. Claiborne did look quick on his press coverage and his ability to carry receivers across the field in man coverage. Every day will be a learning experience for him and working against receivers like Miles Austin and Dez Bryant will help him.
Broaddus wasn't the only one watching the $16 million dollar rookie. ESPN's Todd Archer also checks in with his observations.
** All eyes were on CB Morris Claiborne, the first-round pick. He is aggressive and maybe too aggressive at times, but it’s better to be that way and coach it out of a cornerback. On a stop route to WR Tim Benford, he chewed up the rookie receiver and did not allow him to break free.
Claiborne's over-aggressiveness is something that we fans were warned about a bit, and with the fact that this is his first action since the BCS Championship game, it's to be expected. It will be a great ride watching the rookie try and soak in all of the instruction over the next month as the team attempts to get him ready for opening night.
The Cowboys also had Claiborne returning punts today; but those reports aren't initially promising. Although he was impressive as a kickoff returner at LSU, he didn't return punts and seemed out of place trying to field them today.
"Anytime you come back from as many months off as I have, you’re going to have a little rust," Claiborne said. "I have to read the ball. That ball will tell you different stories. You have to focus and can’t worry about the sun; you just have to read the ball. It’s tricky sometimes." - ESPN
Now Claiborne wasn't the only rookie that we've been waiting to get glimpses of. Third-round pick Tyrone Crawford missed most of the offseason as well; his due to a calf injury. Again, ESPN's Tim McMahon checks in, this time with some post practice observations.
For several minutes after the rest of the rookies headed inside, third-round pick Tyrone Crawford fired out of the three-point stance into a goalpost, working on technique under the supervision of defensive line coach Brian Baker.
As they walked off the field, Baker told the rookie that he’d need about 5,000 reps to break a bad habit on the first step out of his stance. Needless to say, the post-practice sessions will be part of the camp routine for Crawford, who figures he’ll also spend a lot of free time firing out of a three-point stance in his hotel room.
From what he saw, Broaddus was pleased with what he saw out of the defensive ends in today's first stanza.
- Like what I saw early from defensive end Tyrone Crawford. Lined up at end and also some at nose. Did a nice job of fighting past Ronald Leary on his pass rush. Played some on the punt team as well.
- Defensive end Sean Lissemore showed no signs of the injury to his side that kept him out of the minicamps this past spring. He was explosive and powerful at the point, was able to move well side-to-side, bend and turn. Look for him to make a serious push for this starting end spot.
- Staying with the defensive ends, keep an eye on rookie Ben Bass from Texas A&M. He is a high effort and motor guy. Looks very similar to Crawford when he rushes up the field.
Thinking about your favorite UDFA? I took some heat when I included Cole Beasley in my 53 man roster projection as well as my individual player power rankings. It appears the Cowboys coaching staff might be as enamored with the diminutive receiver as I thought they were. Per Broaddus:
Wide receiver Cole Beasley got a lot of work on the outside. Watching Beasley run slants leads me to believe that he can be able to handle some things outside. His quickness really helps him in all areas. Been told that Beasley will get plenty of shots to make this team.
Dan Connor got his first action of the offseason at inside linebacker and took reps and both the Mike and Will. Felix Jones is able to play, but didn't line up today. The running back corps was manned by only Lance Dunbar and Jamize Olawale as Darnell Scott left practice extremely early.
So there's your first report from the 2012 Cowboys season, folks. Tom will check in a little later to discuss the players that aren't participating in the practices, at least at the outset. It's finally here, and before you know it our BTB team will be up close and personal on all the action. Breath a sigh of relief and inhale that pigskin aroma.