Thursday, Aug 2nd (2-4 PM practice)
Dallas Cowboys fans can come back in off the ledge. While I wouldn't classify the offense as a juggernaut in today's practice, they did show some signs of life and held their own against the defense.
Of course, the big news is that Terrell Owens didn't practice today, the result of a sore left hamstring. Also, Justin Beriault hasn't practiced in a few days and you've got to start wondering if his knee injury is not responding well. Andre Gurode worked with the first team at center and Jay Ratliff continues to start in place of Marcus Spears. Greg Ellis has basically taken over the SOLB on the 1st unit and Bobby Carpenter is still working at WILB with the 2nd team. Marc Colombo remains at RT, followed by Fabini then Petitti. Kevin Burnett and Al Singleton are the OLBers on the 2nd team and Pat Watkins is playing FS on the 2nd unit in place of Beriault.
The team ran through their customary start of practice with some half-speed formation drills, then ran sprints and stretched. After that they broke into position drills but it was different today. There was a lot of chatter among the players; shouts of "let's go" and "come on" could be heard all over the field and they were sprinting to their areas on the field. This leads me to believe that after yesterday's debacle Parcells had a talk with his team, telling them he needs them to focus on what they're doing and show some energy and passion. It's just speculation on my part but you could tell they were a little more active today.
During the position drills Paul Pasqualoni was giving Rocky Boiman the business on a "mirror" drill, telling him to "keep on his hip, I don't care how slow he's [Carpenter] moving or where he goes, you keep on his hip"! Kacy Rodgers, in a much more subdued tone, was telling Thomas Johnson to "show me a little more presence in that hole, I need you in that `A' gap" when they were hitting the blocking sled. I was praising Sam Hurd this morning but he dropped a ball in the WR drills. While all this was going on Vanderjagt and Suisham were trying to kick FG's from the side-line from about 20 yards out. Talk about a tough angle!
They broke off into RB/TE vs. LB/S coverage drills and WR/CB coverage drills. I watched a little bit of each. Over on the RB/TE vs. LB/S side the offense was almost always winning; Polite beat Davis, but Glymph had smothering coverage on someone (I couldn't see) and Bledsoe didn't even bother to throw the ball. Then MB3 beat Willie Pile, Tony Curtis beat Bradie James, Tyson Thompson beat M. Coleman, and Fasano took Shanle. Witten beat Glymph, Summers beat Watkins, JJ bested Roy and Hannam was the victor over Ellis.
I got bored watching the offense win all the time so I started watching the WR vs. CB battles. J.R Tolver made a great catch to win his battle, Rector beat N. Jones, Sam Hurd beat Reeves, but Newman deflected the ball away from Skyler Green. Miles Austin took care of Quincy Butler, then Crayton made a fantastic catch on a long ball beating tight coverage by A. Glenn. Anthony Henry smothered Copper, and Rector made a great move to beat Lenny Williams. Reeves had good coverage on Tolver, then Skyler beat Jones but it was bad pass so he didn't catch it. Sam Hurd used a sweet double-move to cook Butler, and Terry Glenn used a double-move to shake loose Terence Newman but it was another bad pass. Henry finished the drill by knocking the ball away from Miles.
They worked on kickoffs next and Vanderjagt was not involved again. Suisham had kicks to the 5-yd line, 2-yd line, and the 10-yd line. Fredrickson had kicks to the goal line, 2-yds deep and the 4-yd line. Next it was FG's and Vandy hit from short distance straight away but missed on an angle from short distance. He hit from medium range and hit from an angle at medium range. Suisham followed the exact same pattern.
The team gathered for some 7-on-7 work while the OL/DL battles were going at the other end. Even though I love watching the OL/DL drills the players were blocking my view so I settled for the 7-on-7. Bledsoe went first and had his first pass to Witten broken up by Bradie James. He then hit Copper on a short crossing pattern, dumped one off to Tyson Thompson with Roy in coverage and hit Crayton on a short pass. Romo hit Glenn on a quick-out, dumped one off to Demtrius Summers, threw the next one away out-of-bounds and hit Polite in front of Carpenter. Henson hit Hannam on an out pattern, hit Glenn who was wide-open in the middle of the field, connected with Austin on an out pattern and then threw the last one out-of-bounds as Summers was covered in the flats.
Then it was on to some 11-on-11 and Bledsoe came out first. He hit Fasano who was wide-open in the flats, dumped to JJ in the middle of the field, then handed off to JJ on a run up the middle that was minimally successful. I missed his next play and some of Romo's plays because I was getting the news about Owens sore left hammy.
Once I was back watching, Romo handed off to MB3 up the middle but went nowhere, then threw a 15-yarder to Copper on the side-line. He hit Rector on a nice pass and catch, then MB3 showed some nifty moves in traffic on a middle-run to pick up good yards. Thompson finished the series up with a run that was OK.
Henson threw a good pass to Tolver but he dropped it, then ran a bootleg that resulted in a nice gain for Sean Ryan on the catch. They ran a sweep to Thompson and Petitti got out front and destroyed poor Nate Jones and they got some good yardage. But the refs called a penalty. That's right, during the practice they had 6 refs out there calling penalties, making rulings on catches and out-of-bounds plays and the like. Anyway, on the next play Tolver made a catch over the middle, Henson hit Polite who was wide-open in the flats, and Kincaide ran through a huge hole in the middle opened up by Tarullo and Procter. On the last play, Henson threw a long bomb and laid it out there perfectly to Sam Hurd, who had beaten his man, but he let the ball drop through his hands as the crowd groaned.
But, as you can see, the offense actually did pretty well compared to yesterday. We didn't hear too much out of Tuna today, either.
After the water break they ran some 7-on-7 in the redzone. Bledsoe threw what should've been an INT to Henry, but Henry dropped the ball and had to do push-ups on the side-line after the series was over. Fasano made a great one-handed catch during the series and Roy broke up a bullet pass to Witten. Romo's series held little of interest except for a Crayton drop and Henson had a poor series, but did give Glenn a chance to catch a TD on a fade-stop pattern, but Glenn couldn't pull it in.
Next they ran 11-on-11 against the nickel and other pass defenses. Bledsoe hit Crayton who beat Newman, then Henry stripped the ball away from Crayton on the next play. On Romo's series he threw an INT on a diving catch by Marcus Coleman, which naturally cause the defense to whoop and holler. Kenyon Coleman almost sacked Romo and Chris Canty batted the pass down on Romo's last play. Henson hit Skyler on a crossing pattern but had Tolver drop a pass that admittedly would've been a tough catch.
After working on punts with the object being to down the ball as close to the goal line as possible, the finished practice doing 11-on-11 in the redzone. Bledsoe ran a sweep with JJ, had Henry break up a pass to Copper, had one blocked at the line, handed off to JJ again then hit Terry Glenn on a diving catch in the endzone for a TD. This of course set off a celebration on the offense. On Romo's first play he gunned a TD to Tony Curtis, then MB3 ran a sweep that Carpenter shut down, threw an incomplete pass, then Kenyon Coleman busted through the line and stuffed an MB3 run. He finished the series by hitting Polite for a TD off of play-action. Henson ran a draw to Thompson for not much, had to scramble out-of-bounds, then had a bad exchange with the running back leading to a fumble that Abraham Elam recovered. He hit Crayton for a TD on a great catch, then overthrew Crayton on the fade.
That was it. But the offense was much crisper today and gave the defense all it could handle. Parcells wasn't interested in having another day like yesterday and the players responded. Tomorrow's a two-a-day so you get two reports for the price of one.