Today should mark the first time the Cowboys get to use both Patrick Crayton and Dez Bryant together in offensive formations. While Crayton has all reminded us that OTAs are "voluntary", he did make his return at yesterday's practice. Bryant, though, was held out after he told trainer Jim Maurer that he felt some "tightness" in his hamstring.
Maurer, erring on the side of caution, told him to sit out the rest of the day and give it a go again on Wednesday. Bryant said he intends to try to practice on Wednesday and be ready for the mandatory minicamp this weekend.
Bryant termed it just the normal aches and pains of getting his body acclimated to football again after playing only three games in college last year.
Along with Bryant, Jay Ratliff and Stephen Bowen are expected to practice today after missing yesterday's OTA. Ratliff has been recovering from elbow surgeries, while Bowen missed practice to attend funeral services for Hofstra Coach Joe Gardi.
Coach Phillips with the official word on why Bryant was held out:
"It's not a pull or anything," coach Wade Phillips said. "But just like the rest of our players, anybody that has any kind of strain or anything we keep him out. We expect him back [Wednesday]."
More VRR after the jump.
Crayton's return, of course, was the media story of the day.
"I'm always glad to be back with my teammates, back on this field," he said. "It's like your sanctuary, so it was a great feeling today to just get back out there, be able to run some routes, and put the jersey back on and the helmet on."
Asked if he still wanted to be released, Crayton responded, "Right now, I'm not worried about being released."
There were plenty of mics around Crayton's locker.
Roy Williams said it was good to have "Old Man" Crayton back.
The wideouts and quarterbacks had some healthy competition yesterday from the Dallas defensive backfield. All three safeties, Alan Ball, Gerald Sensabaugh, and Mike Hamlin turned in good practices.
Hamlin and Sensabaugh had interceptions and Ball broke up two passes, including one that led to a Terence Newman interception on a Jon Kitna throw to Patrick Crayton.
Hamlin made a good read on a crossing route by Sam Hurd on a Tony Romo throw for his pick. Sensabaugh's pick came on a zone blitz on a Kitna pass.
Give Sensabaugh a virtual pick-6!
Sensabaugh stepped in front of Patrick Crayton on a hot route during the Tuesday’s OTA workout and picked off a pass from Jon Kitna. It would have been an easy touchdown return.
No O.J. Atogwe? Alan Ball is cool with that.
``It definitely does something for your confidence to know people around you believe in you,'' Ball said.
Ball will head into training camp as the top free safety on the depth chart. He will face camp competition from Michael Hamlin and Patrick Watkins.
The QBs and WRs did have some success yesterday. Check out Todd Archer's OTA observations from yesterday. Nice to see Stephen McGee making a play, getting some love.
Two of the prettiest touchdown catches came from Roy Williams (from Tony Romo ) and Rashaun Greer (from Stephen McGee). Williams tip-tapped his toes by the pylon on a bullet of a throw from Romo in front of cornerback Marquis Floyd. McGee floated a pass over two defenders into the corner of the end zone allowing Greer to come down with the ball with time to get his feet down on the ground.
It sounds as if McGee is making progress.
No. 3 quarterback Stephen McGee had his best day of OTAs. His accuracy was less than ideal, but he impressed the offensive coaching staff by making decisions and throwing quicker than at any point during these workouts.
"Making that decision quicker is a key for him," Phillips said.
Brandon Williams is learning some moves from DeMarcus Ware and is vying to get in the rotation as a pass rusher.
"That's another move he has taught me," Williams said. "I just use what I get."
With Ware and Anthony Spencer, the Cowboys have one of the best pair of pass-rushing outside linebackers in the NFL, but they remain in search of a third one. Victor Butler filled the role some last season. Jason Hatcher could do it some when needed. But Williams, who did not play as a rookie after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the preseason, has made the most of his return during organized team activities this spring.
"He seems to be back to where he was last year at this time, and that was a good place because he's exceptionally quick off the ball," coach Wade Phillips said. "He's got a lot of skill pass rush-wise. It's good to see him back."
The DMN's OTA pics from Tuesday
DC.com's OTA photo gallery
Keith Brooking is expected to get in one OTA practice tomorrow before the team's mandatory mini-camp this weekend.
Brooking hopes at least to participate in some individual drills Thursday, then practice once a day during the mini-camp, which runs Friday through Sunday.
The Cowboys have been cautious with Brooking's rehab since he had a routine scope in early May.
Still recovering from his March shoulder surgery, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah is spending his practice time getting in shape and learning the secondary from coach Dave Campo.
"I'm getting there," Owusu-Ansah said. "I'm not where I want to be, but I think I could make it through a full day of practice." Owusu-Ansah isn't scheduled to return to practice until training camp, but he said he's prepared mentally for a role in the secondary.
"I feel like I'm very ready," Owusu-Ansah said. "Mike Hamlin, Alan Ball, they help me all the time whenever I have questions. My main thing is to get back healthy and be ready to compete and participate."
"He's on top of everything in the meetings," Phillips said. "He stands back with Campo and tells him what they're supposed to do on each play."
BTB's June 8, 2010 Tweet O' the Day:
So MBIII played the last 13 games of the 2009 season with a torn quad. Respect.
Indeed, Marion Barber's quad wasn't pulled last season; it was "partially torn" for much of the year. Ouch!
That's 13 games, and the quad wasn't the former Pro Bowler's only issue. He also battled knee injuries and a broken thumb. So while weathering some criticism from fans and the press, Barber was winning some serious respect from teammates and coaches.
"That just shows you how strong-willed he is," said Felix Jones. "He's one of the more physical guys in the world. It's like a slap in the face to criticize him. You're putting your body on the line in getting hit from all types of directions. That's somebody you look up to. He's shown us a lot."