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Dallas Cowboys Training Camp News - Tony Romo Had His Best Practice Saturday "By Far"

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Latest Cowboys headlines: Tony Romo was sharp with all his throws Saturday, especially on his deep passes; PFF identifies a few bright spots on the defensive line; One NFC personnel director sees "good competiton" at linebacker for Cowboys.

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys QBs coach Wade Wilson says Tony Romo ‘by far’ had his best practice Saturday | Brandon George, DMN
George writes that Romo was sharp with all his throws Saturday, and particularly looked good on his deep passes.

"He was really cutting the ball loose in all areas, the shorts, mediums and some real nice deep balls in 1-on-1s," Wilson said. "Today he looked like his real self. His motion was real solid. He was getting a lot of his lower body in his throws as well."

"I thought by far this is his best practice."

"He brings energy to the team, and I thought it was one of our best team practices as well. It was competitive and high-spirited and that was good."

Cowboys Camp Report: Day 17 - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
In Archer's daily review of Cowboys training camp, Tony Romo's deep passes get the most attention, suggesting that all the hot air produced on the topic over the last few days is relatively harmless:

Since Wade Wilson said Tony Romo was being tentative with his deep throws last week, maybe it was not a coincidence that Romo's first throw of one-on-one drills was a perfect go route to Dez Bryant. Romo continued to attack downfield, connecting on a go route with a diving Terrance Williams. Later in 7-on-7 drills he gashed the defense with a throw down the seam to Jason Witten. In situational work he hit Cole Beasley between the linebackers and safety with a good throw.

On the day, Romo completed 21 of 30 passes in team and 7-on-7 drills in his first work since a four-day break surrounding the first preseason game. He is expected to practice again Sunday with the team having its last day off in camp Monday. The Oakland Raiders will visit for two practices Tuesday and Wednesday.

Day 17 observations from Dallas Cowboys training camp practices: QB Tony Romo sharp; WR Terrance Williams with big day | Brandon George, DMN
Brandon George lists the hits, misses and notable moments from Saturday’s practices, with Tony Romo getting extra attention:

Tony Romo had two nice deep passes midway through team drills. Romo showed great touch on a deep pass down the right sideline to WR Terrance Williams, who made a head-first dive to make the catch after getting behind CB B.W. Webb on a go route. Romo then handled a low snap before firing another deep pass to the left sideline, hitting TE Gavin Escobar in stride. Escobar ran a cross from the right side and was in tight coverage against CB Orlando Scandrick and S J.J. Wilcox, but Romo put the ball in the perfect spot for the completion.

Cowboys Training Camp Report, Practice Number Twelve: Ranking The Position Groups - Blogging The Boys
Rabblerousr offers his usual observations and analysis from Cowboys camp, and supplements this with a ranking of position groups, which surprisingly has the defensive backs coming in second behind the wide receivers

2. Defensive Backs: In what will likely be the controversial choice, the DBs beat out the OL for the #2 spot. Why? Because of a combination of quality and depth. Not only is the position topped by some very good players (the top three corners, Barry Church), but boasts a very competitive second tier (J.J. Wilcox, Jeff Heath, Jakar Hamilton) and a very tightly bunched third tier, all of whom (B.W. Webb, Ahmad Dixon, Terrance Mitchell, Tyler Patmon, Sterling Moore, Matt Johnson, Ryan Smith) could conceivably make the roster. The only exceptions are the two new guys (Korey Lindsey and Johnny Thomas); I'm not sure they should even count, as they are merely temporary injury additions.

Saturday Practice Recap: Five Injured Players Make Their Return - Rowan Kavner, DC.com
Kavner notes that five players who missed the first preseason game returned to practice (Barry Church, Rolando McClain, Will Smith, Morris Claiborne, Sterling Moore) as did Brandon Carr, albeit in not in full pads. Kavner also quotes Rod Marinelli, whose assessment of the secondary chimes with rabblerousr's observation above:

"Our strength right now are those corners are really good, and we think we’ve got some good safeties," said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. "We can do some things with those guys to help us."

Scout's Notebook: Fullbacks Failing To Impress - Bryan Broaddus, DC.com
Broaddus runs through some thoughts from camp, highlighted by Tyrone Crawford’s progress at defensive end, Joseph Randle's tightening grip on the third RB spot, Gavin Escobar's improvement as a point of attack blocker, Uche Nwaneri's good chances of making the roster and the increasingly bleak outlook for the fullbacks.

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ReFocused: Cowboys @ Chargers, Preseason Week 1 - Pro Football Focus
Not everything the graders at PFF saw on defense was bad.

Bright Spots in the Front Seven

After parting ways with DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher, the defensive line is even more concerning than last season with little proven depth. However, the Cowboys saw encouraging performances from two undrafted free agents versus San Diego. Rookie defensive tackle Davon Coleman finished with the defense’s highest overall grade at +1.7 on 37 snaps. Coleman beat left guard D.J. Johnson in the third quarter with a great spin move inside, took on the blocking back, but came up just short of a sack. The play still resulted in a sack though, due largely to his quick pressure.

Second-year defensive end Kenneth Boatright (+1.4), who was picked up after being released by Seattle in the offseason, tallied a quarterback hit and came up with a stop in the run game. Behind the defensive line, fourth-round rookie linebacker Anthony Hitchens was a force against the run. He led the team with four run stops in 24 run defense snaps and with a +1.5 run defense grade.

NFL execs dish about intriguing training camp battles | FOX Sports
FOXSports.com spoke to executives from 12 different personnel departments to get an insider's perspective on some of the best training camp battles and storylines. For the Cowboys, one unnamed NFC personnel director had this to say about the linebackers:

"I think there's good competition. Hitchens was a good draft pick because he's everything they expected. He's shown that he's an NFL-caliber linebacker running and hitting, and he fits the scheme. Rolando McClain adds some depth. Justin Durant has the experience. Getting McClain was a roll of the dice to see where he is. If his head and heart was into the game, then there's an opportunity that was a first-round talent. He's into it and very smart. You see the talent."

Garrett Lists The Defensive Struggles In San Diego - Rowan Kavner, DC.com
Listen closely, and you'll hear the sound of a slap after every comma:

"Let’s start from top to bottom," Garrett said. "The discipline wasn’t very good, the gap control wasn’t very good, it wasn’t very physical, we didn’t tackle very well, we didn’t run to the ball well enough, we didn’t make enough plays. We made one play on the ball that was significant, but we didn’t make any plays that made a difference in the game."

Carr’s Return Adds Depth To Depleted Cornerback Unit - Nick Eatman, DC.com
Jason Garrett and Morris Claiborne speak for the rest of the Cowboys who are glad to have Brandon Carr back.

"It’s great to have him back. The last couple of weeks have been really challenging for him," Garrett said Saturday. "It was the right thing for him to be there and to be with his family during this tough time. Now, somehow someway he’s got to get his mind rind and back to football the best he can. We’ll see how he is on the practice field and get him ready to go as fast as we can."

"We welcomed him back with open arms. That’s my guy. I love Brandon -- and having him back, having him around, it takes a lot off us all," Claiborne said. "Having his spirit around lifts us up. It’s one of those things where you don’t want to always bring it up. Like today, I wanted to ask him ‘How are you doing – like literally, how are you?’ He’s taking it like he should and things happen. You have to handle them a certain way, and he’s been handling it great."

Upon further review, Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys even more impressed by S Ahmad Dixon in preseason debut | Rainer Sabin, DMN
When you show up on film, you will get noticed.

"He was fast, he was decisive, he was physical, he knocked them back," Garrett gushed. "He made the plays that he should have made and he made some other ones, so it was an impressive debut for him."

"He was a good example for a lot of the other guys as to what we’re looking for, and for him to do that in Week 1 of his rookie year, it was impressive," Garrett said. "He was the guy maybe as much as anybody on our football team that played consistently well and did a lot of positive, positive things, impacted the game."

Dallas Cowboys cut punter Cody Mandell running back Ben Malena - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Punter Cody Mandell and running back Ben Malena were waived, though the Cowboys have not ruled out a return by Malena "at some point". To replace Malena, the Cowboys signed RB D.J. Adams, who spent time this spring with the San Diego Chargers.

NFL Official's night out with Cowboys gives NFL an integrity problem | National Football Post
Things are going seriously non-linear as questions are being raised in the aftermath of NFL VP of Officiating Dean Blandino’s night out with Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones.

Implications of a 33-Yard XP - Advanced Football Analytics
Brian Burke argues that by moving the extra point kicks to the 15-yard line (making the kick distance 33 yards), success rates should drop from the current 99.5% to 91.5%, the success rate from that distance over the last five seasons.

It's likely the NFL chose the 15-yd line for a reason. The success rates for kicks from that distance are approximately twice the success rate for a 2-point attempt (45%), making the entire extra point process "risk-neutral." In other words, going for two gives teams have half the chance at twice the points.

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Let's add NFL.com's Adam Schein to our Accountability List, a list which we'll revisit at the end of the season.: