Thursday Aug. 10th (2-4 PM practice)
All good things must come to an end, and sadly, my time in Oxnard is over. This will be my last training camp practice report as the Cowboys only have a walk-through tomorrow before leaving for Seattle and I will be boarding a plane to go back home. I hope you've enjoyed reading these reports as much as I have enjoyed watching the Cowboys practice and reporting back to you what I've seen. I tried to write these reports the way that I would want to read about Cowboys' practices and hopefully you found them informative.
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OK, enough of that stuff, you guys want to know about practice so here is today's report. After watching 17 straight practices, I could write the script for how a Cowboys' practice will progress, what drills they run when, what personnel packages, etc. But Parcells changed it up some today, throwing in some scout team work instead of 1st team vs. 1st team, 2nd vs. 2nd. So the report will read a little different today.
There were some interesting personnel changes today. Marc Colombo was back at 1st team RT, Petitti 2nd and Fabini 3rd. Sam Hurd continues to get time on the 1st team, with Crayton rotating in on occasion. Another switch was that Scott Shanle ran with the 1st team most of the day instead of Ayodele, who worked with the 3rd team. My guess is Parcells might showcase him in the preseason games in hopes of making a trade, because the numbers at ILB are working against him for making the roster. Abram Elam replaced Willie Pile on the 2nd string at SS for most of the day. Also, Drew Henson was a ghost for most of the day, more on that later.
They started with FG formation and kickoff formation drills with Sam Hurd working on the 2nd team kickoff unit, probably Parcells seeing if the kid can produce on special teams. They also ran the offense and defense formation drills before sprinting, stretching and running position drills.
They opened with an 11-on-11 using a nickel formation and with the offense in a hurry-up. Bledsoe hit Crayton on an out, then Rector caught one over the middle, followed by Crayton catching a TD in the corner of the endzone.
Romo hit Skyler Green over the middle, JJ caught a short pass, Romo threw just a bit high for Copper and ended with a dump to JJ. Henson came on and tried to hit Rector in the flats but Quincy Butler picked it off and would have scored a TD. After that, Henson only ran three more plays all of practice. I'm not kidding. Matt Baker immediately took over and threw short to Curtis, ran a draw to Kincade and hit Curtis on an out.
Next, they ran some kickoff coverage drills with Copper and Thompson the first set of return men followed by Rector and Green. Suisahm was hitting the endzone pretty consistently with his kicks. Thompson bobbled and dropped one catch in the endzone.
They moved on to 11-on-11 using all running plays with Bledsoe and Romo rotating every two plays. JJ had a good run off left tackle, then had a shorter run to the right side. The next time on the right side he got stuffed, then had a good hole on the left side with McQ getting a good block. Barber was able to get around the left corner with some good blocking, then had a huge hole on the right side behind Petitti, Peterman and Al Johnson. On the next play he got a big hole on the left side, then Romo threw a quick pass to Crayton for the only pass on the series. Thompson tried the middle for a small gain and then ran a sweep to the left side for a big gain. Finally, Parcells let Henson back on the field for a Thompson run up the middle for no gain and then Kincade ran to the right with Procter and Burnett having a big collision in the hole.
Then they ran a scout team offense against the 1st, 2nd then 3rd team defense in an 11-on-11 drill. Matt Baker ran the scout team offense that included all kinds of players from 1st stringers to 3rd stringers. It was all runs and Demtrius Summers was the main back and without going through every play, they couldn't run against the 1st team defense and struggled with the 2nd team but made some plays on the 3rd team. Also, Summers put the ball on the ground on one play.
They switched it around with the 1st team offense running against a collection of defensive players from different units, but Parcells rotated Bledose and Romo every two plays in this drill, too. They also looked to be running ¾ speed rush so there were no sacks. In fact, they did that on a lot of these drills today so you will notice the absence of defensive linemen making plays. Bledose hit Hurd in front of Henry and Fasano beat Shanle in the flats. JJ ran through a huge hole on the right side behind Rivera and Gurode with Witten leading the way like a fullback. Romo then hit Witten on a bootleg play. Bledsoe hit Copper who made a great diving catch on an out pattern. Bledsoe then rolled-out and hit Copper on the other sideline.
Continuing with the same drill, Romo hit Copper deep over the middle then Thompson ran to the right side for a small gain. Bledsoe hit Tolver deep, Tolver was wide-open on a busted coverage that might have been Willie Pile's fault. Thomspon had an OK run to the left, then Romo under-threw Ryan who was deep. They ran the exact same play again and Romo hit Ryan this time. Baker came in and got one play to hand off to Kincade who had good blocking on the left side.
After that Baker ran a scout team again against the various defensive units but I couldn't see most of it because of the players blocking our view. They ran some more punt formation drills with McBriar just booming his kicks deep causing Newman and Skyler to back up almost every time. It was impressive.
Bledsoe started a 7-on-7 drill and rotated again with Romo every two plays. Bledsoe dumped one to JJ then hit Fasano short. Romo hit Terry Glenn on an out where Glenn did a toe-tap to stay in bounds. He tried to hit Copper on a post but Newman broke it up. Bledsoe threw a dump-off to Summers and hit Hannam on a crossing pattern. Romo hit Polite for 15 yards, Polite had beaten Shanle and then Green and Romo had a miscommunication for an incomplete. Bledsoe hit Hurd for around 7 yards then hit Copper on a short pass. Romo finished the drill by connecting with Skyler for 15 yards over the middle then Quincy Butler got another pick on a pass intended for Copper.
They moved on to 11-on-11 with Bledsoe and Romo in rotation. Bledsoe hit Glenn in front of Newman then hit Hurd in the same spot in front of Newman. Romo hit Hurd on a quick slant and found Crayton deep over the middle. Bledsoe overthrew Copper then hit Copper on a slant. Romo threw in the dirt to Crayton then hit Thompson in the flats. Bledsoe came back with a quick slant to Tolver and connected with Tolver on a crossing pattern. Romo concluded the drill by throwing to Rector for 10 yards then Tolver couldn't haul in an off-target pass on a post pattern.
They went back to 7-on-7 with Baker running a scout team but once again the drill was obscured by players standing in the way. I did manage to catch a few highlights; Greg Ellis got an interception by jumping high for the ball which set the defense off into howls of celebration, Singleton had a good break up of a pass and Hurd manage to get a few passes caught during the drill.
They continued by running the same scout team offense with Baker at the helm but this time in 11-on-11. Some of the highlights were Elam breaking up a pass, and Quincy Butler got another pick-off. By my count that was three for the day, I guess sometimes the ball just comes your way.
To finish practice they ran three Hail Mary plays. On the first one they lined Marcus Coleman up as a receiver, and then Henson finally got back on the field to throw the last one that ended practice. I don't think any of the three were successful.
That was it, and that's all for me at Oxnard. It's been a blast and once I get home I'll be writing more articles, just not from training camp.