The San Antonio Spurs were represented at today’s practice in the person of Bruce Bowen. Wade Phillips brought him to midfield and the team lined up in a circle around him after they had finished stretching. Bowen gave them a pep talk and kept pointing over to Wade Phillips and must have been saying something funny because the players were all smiling. After that, they got down to business. They were dressed in full pads today so there was some contact to be seen.
Just to give you and idea of the backfield rotations, it usually goes like this in positional drills: Romo, Hoyte and JJ; Johnosn, Polite and MB3; Moore, Anderson and Thompson; Bartel, no FB and Battle. Sometimes they sub in a fullback for Bartel’s drills. In the regular scrimmage drills, JJ starts but MB3 gets some time with the first unit also. This regime of coaches doesn’t stay as strict with running in the 2nd and 3rd teams as much as Parcells did, so once the scrimmage drills begin you get a mix of players after the first unit goes.
Greg Ellis didn’t dress but spent sometime on the bungee cord with the trainer, as did Marc Colombo and Flozell Adams. Isaiah Stanback and Alonzo Coleman also didn’t practice.
Wade Phillips spent a lot of time with defensive line today at the beginning of practice, getting hands-on with the teaching. They were working on getting the hands up under the arms of the offensive lineman and then pulling them forward by the inside of the shoulder pads and out of the way. It looked dangerously close to defensive holding, but Wade is sneaky like that. Then they worked on splitting the double-team by dropping to one knee, then getting back up and through the middle of the two offensive players.
The o-line was working on some zone combo-blocks where the two linemen double-team the first defensive player, then depending on where the second player comes from, one of the offensive players breaks off and picks him up.
Meanwhile, the QB’s and WR’s were running some passing drills and T.O. dropped an easy one, which always draws some jeers from the crowd.
Over on defense, the secondary was working for an extensive amount of time on the nickel defense. As I teased in the previous post, your linebackers in the nickel were Roy Williams and Kevin Burnett. Roy was working on the TE side with Ken Hamlin behind him. Pat Watkins was the safety on the other side, and Henry, Newman and Glenn lined up as they did last year. The linebackers, besides Burnett, were working on the blitz schemes and learning which zones to cover when one of them blitzes.
They came together for a 9-on-9 run scrimmage while the WR’s worked against the CB’s on the other side of the field. I concentrated on the 9-on-9 scrimmage.
Romo started off with a run to JJ on the right side using a RT trap block back to the middle. Next JJ went to the middle/left but Spears did a good job of collapsing down the line. JJ ran a sweep to the left but Spencer was having none of that and ran the play down for a tackle with the help of Canty. JJ tried the middle but Canty collapsed the line to stuff the play. They finished with a middle run but Burnett filled the gap nicely.
Johnson came on at QB and gave to MB3 up the middle but Burnett made another good play and gave him a nice pop. MB3 then went to the left and Trey Darilek gave him room by making a nice block on the linebacker. Tyson Thompson went right on a sweep and found some room thanks to good blocking. Bartel came in to run the show and gave the ball to Battle who ran through a giant hole in the middle then ran over safety Courtney Brown. It was kind of funny. Next Battle tried a sweep to the right but Bradie James moved down the line and threw Battle out of bounds with some force.
Romo was back and gave it to JJ up the middle but Ferguson stuffed it. JJ then went middle/right and Hoyte gave him room with a nice block on Ayodele. JJ tried another run but Hatcher shut it down in the backfield. Johnson came in and gave it to MB3 on a middle trap block, but Keith Davis busted him up. The run scrimmage ended with MB3 getting a nice hole in the middle for a good gain.
They went to work on simulated kickoffs and your return men were TT, Austin, Elam, Butler and Nate Jones. The first team wedge was Polite, Ratliff, McQ and Hoyte. The second team wedge was Fasano, Procter, Hatcher and Andy Thorn. The whole time they were running this drill Greg Ellis, DeMarcus Ware and Paul Pasqualoni were having a discussion about technique and Pasqualoni was instructing them on how to use their hands and the proper footwork.
Next up was some 7-on-7 on one side of the field and one-on-one blocking drills on the other. For some reason, the blocking drills are more interesting to me and here’s what happened. Molinaro was OK on Spencer who went way too wide. L. Davis locked down Ratliff, Gurode stood up Fergie and Kosier did fine against Canty. Next, Ware absolutely destroyed McQ, but McQ came back against Carpenter who was playing OLB in these drills. Kosier was good against Bowen and Gurode pushed Fergie to the outside. Then, in a moment that made me laugh, L. Davis used a two-hand pop to the shoulder pads to stun Spears, who tried to recover but couldn’t. Davis is strong. Junior Glymph went right around Molinaro and then Doug Free stoned Carpenter. Stanley got a good push on Berger and Ratliff got a quick jump inside against Davis, but Davis semi-recovered. Hatcher looked good against Marten (twice) and Procter handled Spears. Berger stood up Dagunduro, Darilek was OK on Canty, but Ware bull-rushed Free into the QB. Canty abused Steve Franklin, Remi Ayodele got a nice push on Tarullo, and Procter had no problem with Marcus Smith. Spencer went right around Marten with ease but Marten came back to handle Glymph.
Next, they started doing two-on-two drills with linemen stunts, something we never saw last year. Berger/McQ were just barely able to handle Ware/Canty, Hatcher/Ratliff got the better of Molinaro/Davis and Kosier/McQ easily stopped Carpenter/Bowen. Molinaro/Davis did well against Spears/Spencer, Carpenter/Bowen got the better of Darilek/Free, and Ratliff/Hatcher just plain blew up Procter/Marten. Spears/Spencer battled Procter/Marten to a draw, and Ware/Bowen were too much for Free/Franklin. During this drill, Tony Sparano was all over Marten and Free, especially Free, giving them emphatic instructions on their technique.
They went back to kickoffs, and Ware, Ellis and Pasqualoni continued their techniques discussion the whole time. During this session of the kickoffs, Deon Anderson knocked guys to the turf on two different plays. He was a battering ram.
Finally, they went to some full-on 11-on-11. Nothing better. Romo started out with a JJ run but Canty stuffed it. JJ then ran a draw up the middle, followed by a deep pass to Crayton which was overthrown. The defense switched to a 4-man line and I didn’t see the play because I was too busy identifying who the down linemen who were - Spencer, Ratliff, Canty and Ware; with Burnett and Roy at LB. On the next play MB3 tried a run to the right but Hatcher put a stop to that, and Romo ended by hitting Owens on a pass in front of A. Glenn.
Johnson was next and he tried a dump pass to TT that was incomplete. He tried to pass on the next play but the coverage was too good and Bowen ended up with the sack. He then tried a deep ball to Crayton but Joey Thomas recovered just in time to mess it up. TT then tried a run to the right but couldn’t get much. Matt Moore came on hit Andy Thorn on a pass in front of Hamlin and then threw an incomplete pass in Hurd’s direction.
Romo’s turn again and he completed a pass to Terry Glenn in the middle of a bunch of traffic that drew applause. He threw a quick pass to Witten, hit Hurd in the flats, then tried a reverse to T.O. but he had no room to run. MB3 then ran to the left and beat Carpenter to the edge for a nice gain, and Romo finished with a dump to Austin but it was probably a sack anyway.
Johnson came on and threw long to Rector but it was incomplete and Ware had gotten very good pressure. Next up, Ken Hamlin picked Johnson off by wrestling the ball away from the receiver, then Jay Saldi got what would have been a sack in live action. Johnson finished with a pass to Fasano in the flats. Bartel finished the practice with a draw to Battle but Bradie James made the tackle, then James tackled Battle on another run.
Lots of good stuff today.