Tuesday, Aug. 1st (2-4 PM practice)
It was a bright, cloudless day at Cowboys training camp but a stiff breeze kept things from getting too hot. Some interesting notes with the starting line-ups: Andre Gurode once again was running with the 1st team at center, and Jay Ratliff moved onto the starter's unit at DE ahead of Kenyon Coleman. Greg Ellis saw most of the time at OLB with the starters relegating Al Singleton to the 2nd unit and Rocky Boiman moved to the 3rd unit. Bobby Carpenter spent most of the day with the 2nd unit, but not at OLB, nope, he was working at ILB in place of Scott Shanle who worked with the 3rd team.
Before practice I asked DL coach Kacy Rodgers about Jason Hatcher and he said he "likes him a lot, but he has a long way to go".
To start practice they did a little work on kickoff returns, with Tyson Thompson and Terrance Copper as the two return men. Working in pairs behind them were Rector and Green, followed by Abraham Elam and Miles Austin. They ran some half-speed 11-on-11 where Ellis and Ratliff were manning the starter's spots on the left side of the defense. Pat Watkins played FS on the 2nd unit as Justin Beriault missed practice again. After that they did their customary sprints and stretching. While they were stretching Coach Parcells spent a lot of time chatting up Roy Williams.
They moved on to position drills where Paul Pasqualoni was really getting into it with the linebackers. You can hear Paqualoni across the field yelling things like "we need a little more violence" when they were hitting each other. Kevin Burnett was looking good in the drills and Pasqualoni let him know that he was doing well. Jim Burt was yelling at Thomas Johnson to get "off the block" and then made Sammy T. do a drill three times because the first time he used bad technique and the second time went the wrong way to get the ball carrier. That's not good for a guy fighting for a roster spot. Montavius Stanley followed up with the same mistake and Burt wasn't happy. Meanwhile, Coach Rodgers was showing the defensive ends how to play a double-team block by engaging the defender then hitting one knee to keep leverage. Burt was also yelling at the NT's to keep their back flat when lining up in their stance, he doesn't want their butt up in the air.
Over on the offensive side of the field they were running the RT/TE vs. DE/OLB, RG, C, LG vs. NT/ILBers, RT/TE vs. DE/OLB blocking drills. Ratliff threw down Petitti, then Gurode held Ferguson to a draw. Canty beat Fasano and Colombo drove Coleman practically off the field. Thomas Johnson held his own against Al Johnson and Peterman while McQuistan destroyed Hatcher. Fabini looked better today on a pull-block. Ratliff and Petitti fought to a draw and Ferguson looked good against Gurode. McQuistan looked good again against Jamison and Fabini handled Bowen easily. Then Kevin Burnett absolutely ruined Dennis Roland and Parcells loved it, calling out to Kevin "way to go Burnett".
They moved on to some 7-on-7 action that started off with Glenn making a short catch over the middle. MB3 caught one in the flats and Witten beat Roy on a long pass down the seam. Ellis actually managed to keep up with Witten in the flats on the next play.
Tony Curtis beat Ryan Fowler over the middle, but Fowler got his revenge on the next play by picking off a Romo pass over the middle which led to howls of celebration from the defense. Rector had a good catch and Henson had Sam Hurd wide-open deep on a post pattern but badly overthrew him.
After a break they did some more 11-on-11 which started out with Witten beating Ayodele for a catch. Owens then dropped a pass but the throw wasn't the best effort from Bledsoe. They tried to hook-up again on the next play on the side-lines but the ball was partially deflected. Then Ratliff sacked Bledsoe because of good coverage by the secondary.
MB3 had a good run through a big hole on the right side and Rector made a nice catch after slipping down on his route. Marc Colombo got out front on a sweep by MB3 and the hole was opened. Henson then threw another bad pass intended for Skyler Green and on the next play pulled the ball down and ran with it. Mroz ended the session by throwing an awful pass that Keith Davis easily picked off.
They worked on kickoff returns and FG's next. The FG block team lined like this: Newman, Ellis, Ayodele, Ratliff, Ferguson, Canty, Ware, Davis and Henry with Roy and Bradie James behind the line.
During the water break Carpenter brought Parcells his water and stayed their as Parcells was giving him instructions for a couple of minutes.
They went back to 7-on-7 with some of the highlights being a Fasano catch that was pretty deep downfield, a Witten catch deep, and Al Singleton making a diving deflection to break up a pass to Skyler Green. Also, Polite made a couple of catches and Sean Ryan caught a deep pass from Henson. The lowlights included dropped passes by both Witten and Crayton.
Back to 11-on-11 where they didn't do the regular 4-4-2-2 rotation of QB's but let Bledsoe, Romo and Henson each run about 8 consecutive plays. On Bledsoe's first play he held the ball and Ware eventually sacked him and you could hear coaches yelling "get rid of the ball". They worked on a lot of roll-outs including another play where Witten beat Ellis handily. Keith Davis came up limping and was out for a few plays and Pat Watkins took over. Nothing to worry about though as Davis came back in later. The running game was getting some good holes during this drill and is starting to click better. Pat Watkins almost got another interception on a Romo pass that was high in the air intended for Crayton. Watkins leapt high for it and got his hands on it but couldn't hold on. Once again Colombo got out in front of a sweep to MB3 and opened the hole for a good gain. During Jeff Mroz's series Ryan Hannam blew-up Scott shanle to open the hole for Keylon Kincaide.
Then a surprise! For the first time during training camp they actually did live kickoffs. Now the disappointment, Vanderjagt was not part of the drill. Suisham and Fredrickson took turns alternating kicks with Suisham's going to the 12-yd line, 3-yd line, 3-yd line, and 1-yd deep into the endzone. Fredrickson's went to the 20-yd line (which Elam mishandled), the 4-yd line, 1-yd line and 1-yd deep into the endzone. But there was definite disappointment on my part that we didn't get to see Vanderjagt kickoff.
They ran a quick series of 3-WR sets with no defense after that. Crayton paired up with Owens and Glenn on the first unit, Tolver, Rector and Copper were on the 2nd unit and Hurd, Green and Austin made up the 3rd unit.
To finish practice they once again ran the hurry up offense out of the spread formation. Bledsoe's first series lasted only two plays, which were disasters, and Parcells was so mad he threw them off the field and called in the 2nd unit. Romo didn't do much better and ended up throwing an interception to Junior Glymph. Henson's series died on a 4th down. Parcells called Bledsoe's unit back out again to try but they couldn't get it done.
So practice ended on a down note, but there is always tomorrow, and I'll be back out there to give you the scoop.