Let's call this first practice a return to fundamentals. The Dallas Cowboys spent a lot of time in position drills emphasizing footwork and technique. The practice was light on the usual 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills and it did seem to be a little faster pace with guys moving to the next drill with alacrity. The practice was a shorts and helmets affair so obviously there was no hitting.
Before the start of practice, both DeAngelo Smith and Felix Jones were practicing catching punts from the machine. Smith looked smooth and you could tell he knew how to judge the flight of the ball and position himself for a return. Felix was little less sure but caught most of the punts without trouble. While that was going on, the kickers, holders and long snappers were running through FG drills. Going by today's action, Mat McBriar will be holding on FG's and Matt Stewart was the backup long snapper.
Only Stephen Hodge appeared to be on the injured list and he went through his re-hab drills on the side.
Much more after the jump.
After stretching and running a couple of sprints, they immediately moved to special teams, specifically FG's. Coach Joe D was out there running the show, but they didn't really kick. Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett were the wing blockers on FG's with the first unit. They also practiced a few fakes with McBriar attempting some passes. They also practiced a couple of FG returns with Terence Newman doing the honors first, followed by Orlando Scandrick.
Tony Romo was fashionably late to practice; maybe he's taking over the T.O. role. I kid, but he did show up late.
They broke up into offense and defense after that and ran basic positional drills. Wade Phillips spent a lot of the time, I would say almost all of his time, with the defense throughout the practice.
On offense, the backfields were, mainly, Marion Barber and Deon Anderson (1st), Felix Jones and Julius Crosslin (2nd) and Tashard Choice with Asaph Schwapp (3rd).
They also ran some new drills that they haven't run under Wade before. The receivers and running backs were doing a little running while being held up by resistance bands. The offensive line was working on staying low by individually lining up under a low net, insuring they wouldn't come out of their stance high. The defensive line worked a little bit on the sled while the secondary was doing a lot of footwork drills, making angle cuts and the like, very similar to combine drills.
The WR's and the QB's went through a long session of running the passing tree with no defense. The running backs practiced blocking techniques, the secondary worked backpedaling drills, the outside linebackers were grabbing the towel off the ground after angling around a blocking dummy.
The offense came together to run some plays with no defense, while the defense practiced position as a unit against no offense.
They finally worked a session of 7-on-7. Romo started but missed Witten on a pass, then dumped short to MB3, threw a short one to Witten in front of Bradie James, hit Marty B. on a medium depth pass and concluded with a dump-off to Felix. Jon Kitna stepped in and hit Mike Jefferson on an out, Michael Hawkins picked him off deep on the next pass, he threw a nice out to Kevin Ogletree, and finished by finding Alonzo Coleman on a crossing pattern. Stephen McGee threw a bad pass towards Rodney Hannah.
Back to Romo who threw a bad pass to Bennett that was dropped, he overshot Witten on an out, connected with Crayton who made a great catch on a slant. Romo tried a bomb but it was picked off by Mike Hamlin after it was tipped in the air by Hawkins (or C. Brown, it's possible it was #27 and not #37). He finished by hitting Bennett on a short pass and then Isaiah Stanback made a really good catch on an out. Kitna threw a dump-off to Choice twice before connecting with Ogletree, then concluded with a beautiful pass to Bennett that dropped in between the two levels of the zone. Rudy Carpenter closed-out the drill with a pass to John Phillips and Rodney Hannah.
After that, the offense ran a bunch of plays against no defense while the defense did the same at the other end of the field. They did run some plays with both Marion and Felix in the backfield.
Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton were the first team WR's, Austin and Hurd were second. Mike Jenkins started opposite T-New. Montrae Holland took some turns at center behind Gurode along with Procter. Junior Siavii was behind Jay Ratliff and Courtney Brown was getting reps at corner with the second team. Pat Watkins and Alan Ball were paired up at safety with the second team for part of the time. Steve Octavien and Brandon Williams were manning the second team OLB for a lot of practice. Bobby Carpenter and Jason Williams were the second team ILBs. Most of the other rookies were running on the third team.
Tomorrow's a two-a-day.