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Practice Report -- Thursday, August 18th

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The pads went back on today and the hits seemed to snap the Cowboys out of their Wednesday fog. The offense regained some of the spark it showed during Tuesday's drills as the team went through a spirited two hour workout.

The order on the early special teams drills today was kickoff returns as Tyson Thompson and Marion Barber got reps with the first unit. After the daily walkthrough drills and stretching, the defensive drills worked on recognition of misdirection plays. The linebackers, in particular, worked on recognizing cross blocks on running plays and not being sucked inside.

The units then broke into offensive versus defensive sub-units, with the old veterans, Larry Allen and Flozell Adams showing some push in the three on three drills. After another special teams drill the first running 11-on-11 drill was held, with the offense getting a more consistent push versus the defense. Andre Gurode got some praise for his work as Julius Jones and Tyson Thompson produced some good runs.

The team went back to unit work with the offensive and defensive linemen working on stunts and stunt pickups while the offensive skill position players and the back seven defenders worked seven against seven. Demarcus Ware got some work as a left defensive end in his drill and frustrated Rob Petitti.

The final eleven on eleven saw the first team offense put up more big plays. Bledsoe followed a nice crossing route to Patrick Crayton with a perfectly executed post to Terry Glenn, who got behind Terence Newman and Keith Davis. Crayton looks very effective going over the middle, which is probably why he has pulled ahead of Quincy Morgan, who had a reputation, according to K.C. Joyner, for shying away from the middle of the field while in Cleveland.

The defense was not without its moments. Roy Williams threw a Bledsoe pass to Reggie Harrell off target with a well timed safety blitz, and the line had plays that would have produced sacks (the linemen are required to pull up and the QB is allowed to continue the play). However, the offense, far more often than not, was able to recognize blitzes and make the proper adjustments on the fly. This continues the good work against the blitz they showed on Tuesday.

Notes:

  • A helicoper flew very near the practice field while the team was in their early walkthroughs. Parcells followed it with an I-know-it's-nothing-but-I-should-make-sure grin on his face. Fans in the stands yelled out, "it's a spy, Bill! It's the Raiders!"

  • Patrick Crayton increased his reps with the first offensive unit. He got all of them in the last two 11-on-11 drills when the offense ran a 3-WR package and tooks some turns as the #2 to spell Terry Glenn. Crayton continues to get open and make receptions.

  • Drew Bledsoe looks far more comfortable with Terry Glenn than with Keyshawn Johnson. Right now he has the luxury of two go-to guys with Glenn and Jason Witten.

  • The extra work after practice appears to be bearing fruit; Bledsoe and Glenn connected on two long passes today in the 11-on-11s, after days of frustrating near misses.

  • Bledsoe's overall accuracy looks improved. He completed two dandy stop fades to Glenn and to Crayton over tight Terence Newman coverage.

  • Tyson Thompson and Marion Barber got a lot of reps with the first and second units today. Thompson is ahead of Barber in the pecking order, but both made good runs and receptions.

  • Parcells has described Demarcus Ware as "lost" in coverage. And he has been burned badly on passes this week. Today, however, he dropped an interception in a 7-on7 drill. The learning curve is steep, but he's working at it.

  • When the defense played nickel in the 11-on-11 today the front seven had Ware and Ellis flip-flopping sides at DE and Glover teaming with Leo Carson. Scott Shanle and Dat Nguyen were the LBs.

  • Marco Rivera was in shorts again today but the intensity of his agility drills increases. If this were the regular season, he would probably be playing.

  • The offense practiced four WR sets for the first time this week. Up to this point, Dallas has set its TEs wide when it wanted to spread a defense out.

  • Andre Gurode and Al Johnson continue to rotate at center, though Gurode got the majority of snaps today. Gurode continues to manhandle the backup NTs -- those not named Ferguson or Glover -- in run drills and matches up better against the big boys than Johnson.

  • It was another Wheaties day for Larry Allen, who had the ILBs -- ALL of the ILB's -- reminding him to save some pop for the real games, during three-on-three run blocking drills.

  • Flozell Adams also looked good in the three on three, getting the better of Greg Ellis.
  • Copyright 2005 by Rafael Vela

    Note: I'll only file one report tomorrow, after the morning practice. I have an early flight to catch Saturday morning and need to get back to the city. I hope you're enjoying these.