Days like today are no fun for anybody and it seems as though the Cowboys will have to prepare to play the season without the services of their best cornerback, Orlando Scandrick. In 11-on-11 drills, Scandrick collided with Lucky Whitehead on a pass from Tony Romo. Scandrick's right knee buckled and Whitehead fell on it as Scandrick was down for a while. The trainers and other players were around him but you could tell by Scandrick's demeanor that it wasn't a good sign as the stands grew somber quickly.
The initial prognosis is a torn ACL in Scandrick's right knee, however the Cowboys will have an MRI completed first before confirming anything. The dark cloud hung over the conclusion in a practice that had some really bright spots earlier in its beginning.
Putting The 'D' Back In Defense
From what was seen out in the River Ridge Playing Fields, defense was the big winner of the day. The Cowboys offense was picked three time by three different defenders. Barry Church, Byron Jones and Scandrick all came away with interceptions. Barry Church was especially good in coverage and seemed to play with better closing speed. You can see that he has the "short-term memory" that is needed for NFL defensive backs. After giving up a long pass to Jason Witten, he responded on the very next play with a diving interception off Tony Romo. Jones' pick was an easy misread by Dustin Vaughan, and Scandrick was just playing amazing coverage. Morris Claiborne didn't have any picks but he was playing with great confidence. His coverage was excellent and that's good news for the Cowboys if he keeps progressing, they're going to need him. Overall, impressive day for the defensive backs.
Sitting Out Does Not Sit Well For Dez Bryant
Sean Lee was able to put in a little work in team drills, it was nice to see his explosiveness and impeccable game awareness. Dez Bryant returned to practice but was held out of most team drills and one on ones. He lined up a few times but every one was a run play. Dez was visibly upset and angry that he couldn't participate. He's such a 100 mile an hour guy that this is the type of stuff he thrives on. He is without a doubt the heart and soul of the team and was upset he couldn't show out to the fans in attendance. Your shot is coming soon, big guy.
Laurence Gibson Coming On Strong
About 30 minutes before practice was to begin, there was Marc Colombo working almost exclusively with Laurence Gibson. He looked good and aced just about every drill Colombo had him run. Gibson has been getting some praise as of late and probably has earned more playing time these next two games. He's got power and has got to be on the list of potential "most improved" candidates. Gibson has a violent punch as well and it showed when he rendered Ben Gardner practically useless in one on ones. Keep an eye on this guy because some competition is in order at the swing tackle position.
A.J. Jenkins Balled Out Of Control
It's about time that the Cowboys see something from the bottom of the wide receiver's depth chart. Jenkins had the catch of the day that looked to be something out of the Odell Beckham, Jr. highlight tape. His one-handed grab was extraordinary and it really lit up the crowd out there. Jenkins has struggled to really show much in camp but over the last few practices has turned up the heat. If he can continue to get it done, maybe he still has something after all.
La'el Collins Continuing to Progress
Collins got a lot of reps in this practice and he had some success in his one on ones too. It was especially impressive to watch him battle it out with Tyrone Crawford and win a few. Collins has been in the discussion recently with the stiff back ailing Ronald Leary. Nobody is ready to anoint him just yet but it's clear the Cowboys knew what they were doing when they paid for his services. Collins has been a camp standout and is looking more and more like a future stalwart of this offensive line with every practice.
Defensive Line Dominated The Day
As good as the secondary was in practice, it was the defensive line that really set the tone. Greg Hardy beat Tyron Smith earlier in practice and carried it over to 11-on-11 drills when he batted down a Tony Romo pass. Jack Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory were simply unstoppable and were routinely just making minced meat out of their competition. Jeremy Mincey also put together a nice practice for himself and was penetrating with ease during team drills. This defensive line is a world of difference from last season and their battles with the best offensive line in football has worked wonders.
Lucky Whitehead Struggled Early, Rebounded Nicely
There is some doubt in how much the Cowboys actually trust having Whitehead back there returning kicks. He had a really bad mishandling that led to a slew of profanities shouted by Bisaccia. To be fair, Lucky then rebounded with a punt return to the 40 yard line. However, in order to build some more confidence in him, he has to learn to not anticipate so much. Keep his eyes on the ball and read its travels with better vision. Bisaccia wasn't too pleased with him today and his long return didn't stop Bisaccia from getting the last jab. "Nice Lucky, you finally found your hands." So far the game seems to be maybe a little big for him.
Though the potential news for Scandrick is a shot to the gut, have confidence that the Cowboys front office and coaches have prepared better than in the past. It also helps that the secondary has been playing very well due to the pass rush being much improved. All of our thoughts and good feels are with Scandrick and hoping he has a speedy recovery. Next Man Up!