The Dallas Cowboys were dressed in full pads for the afternoon practice and were joined by numerous media. Included in that was Mark Schlereth and Sal Paolantonio from NFL Live. I talked to both guys before practice to get their thoughts on the Cowboys and the NFL. Schlereth likes both the Cowboys and the Giants in the NFC while choosing the Chargers over in the AFC. As a former lineman he was impressed with the size and physicality of the Cowboys offensive line calling them monstrous. He commented that Bigg blocks out the sun. Sal was more emphatic about the Cowboys calling them the class of the NFC but noting that the regular season isn’t what it’s about for the Cowboys, implying they need to finish in the post-season. I asked about the Giants and he thought they were for real and wouldn’t be hurt by Strahan’s retirement and will be battling the Cowboys in the NFC. In the AFC he went with the Patriots.
I also asked Tank where his Panama Jack hat was that he wore yesterday and he said you can’t get anything by you guys. He joked that his jersey was ripped an inch shorter today and wondered if I noticed. Hey Tank, we’re Cowboys fans, you won’t find more fanatical fans in the league.
With Terence Newman not practicing Mike Jenkins took a lot of the reps with the first team although in 11-on-11 Adam Jones got some of the first team reps. Justin Rogers was back at practice but even so Bobby Carpenter was running with the second unit for a lot of practice opposite Kevin Burnett. Rogers was mainly with the third unit.
During some of the early drills they were lining Witten up outside with Crayton in the slot next to T.O.
After the positional technique drills they did some redzone running drills. During these they had Marcus Spears lining up at NT and Jay Ratliff at DE. They kept this formation for a large part of practice. MB3 started with a run but Roy flew in from the side into the backfield. MB3 tried another run but Ratliff was in the hole. Felix Jones made a shifty cutback run, then tried the left corner, followed by a run up the middle through a huge hole cleared out by Bigg on Tank. Tashard Choice tried the middle, followed by a run where he had a beautiful cutback that led to a TD. Another run was stopped by Justin Rogers, then Coleman tried the middle but Bobby Carpenter was in the hole forcing Coleman wide. Lattimore had a short run, then he tried again but Rogers and Carpenter stuffed him.
MB3 ran wide to the left and was in trouble until Kosier made a perfect seal block on Zach Thomas springing him for a good run. MB3 had another OK run where Roy made the tackle. MB3 tried the middle but Bradie was having none of it and actually threw MB3 to the turf. Felix then made a shifty run to the right picking his way through traffic. Felix tried the middle but Carpenter worked off a Kosier block and made the tackle. Bowen ate up a Felix run then Choice tried a cutback against the grain to the opposite side but Dowayne Davis stayed home for the tackle. Coleman had an OK run and the drill finished with Rogers stopping Coleman on another run.
As a side note, in one formation they used Felix lined up wide in the slot and faked a reverse to him. During the special teams drill that followed, Amendola was back catching punts with AJ and Crayton, replacing T-New.
Next they ran 7-on-7 drills on one end while on the end in front of me they ran OL/DL 1-on-1 drills. Rodney Hannah started with a nice job against Erik Walden, but when they went again Walden pushed Hannah backwards to the QB. Ratliff absolutely flattened Colombo, then Bigg handled Hatcher. Gurode stood up Spears, Canty went right around Kosier, then Flo showed very good technique against Ware. Colombo did well with Ratliff, Bigg lunged forward and got off balance so Hatcher got by him, and Gurode was good on Spears. Canty again had no problem with Kosier, Ware and Flo had a good battle that was too close to call, and McQ ran Walden wide of the QB. Bigg got a good initial punch on Ratliff but Ratliff fought back. Witten was fine with Walden but on the next time Walden ran an up-and-in past Witten.
McQ had a tough time blocking Marcus Smith, Berger held his own with Hatcher, and Proctor was OK with Remi Ayodele. Doug Free stoned Marcus Dixon and on the next try Free literally threw Dixon to the turf. Ellis bull-rushed Lekkerkerker, Marcus Smith got a great initial pop on Adam Stenavich, and Junior Siavii did pretty good work on Proctor. Free handled Dixon, Ratliff and Lekkerkerker fought to a draw, and Stenavich gave up too much ground to Remi. Ryan Gibbons stoned Dixon, Canty put a bull-rush on Marten, and Colombo pushed Ellis wide. Bigg had no problem with Spears, Gurode did the same, then Spears came back and got by Gurode. Kosier ran Canty wide, Ware got around Flo, and Walden ran a quick inside move on Colombo.
After a round of special teams, they came back together for 11-on-11. Romo started with a dump pass to MB3, ran a roll-out and hit Witten, then pitched to MB3 but Bradie was in hot pursuit for the tackle. Hurd made a short catch in front of Jenkins then Romo tried to hit Curtis down the seam but Burnett had good coverage for an incompletion. Hatcher broke through and almost knocked the ball out of Romo’s hand, Romo got the pass off but was incomplete to Witten. Brad hit Austin on a hitch but Oglesby was right on him. Isaiah Stanback made a catch on Ball, Coleman took a dump pass but Zach had good pursuit, then Ware ate up a Coleman run. Bartel handed off to Lattimore but there was too much traffic then they dumped to Lattimore but AJ and Burnett had him bottled up.
Romo was back in and threw a screen to MB3 but it looked like Bowen would have sacked him beforehand. Romo then tried to hit T.O. deep but Jenkins was in coverage and gave him a little shove so the pass went incomplete. Afterwards T.O. stood around and acted like he was looking for a flag but Jenkins shook his head “no”. BTW, I think it was interference. Romo threw short to Austin but Oglesby made a quick tackle. He then tried to hit Hurd on a deep pass that Hurd probably should have caught but he didn’t; AJ was in coverage but was a step behind. Romo finished with a short pass to Austin with Carpenter applying good pressure to the QB. Brad ran a reverse to Stanback but Ware and Henry stayed home. Choice tried a run but Zach and Spears were blocking the hole. Choice caught a dump pass but Ball was right on him. Coleman tried a run wide but Carpenter had good pursuit. Terrell finished up with a Coleman run and then Walden and Bowen broke through with a sack.