Today's practice seemed a lot more focused as the Cowboys didn't let the pace drag and it was business as usual for Jason Garrett's 2015 regime. Though the the last practice ended with somber news for Orlando Scandrick, which saw players and coaches getting emotional for the loss, this practice was focused on finishing strong. Let's get at it then, shall we?
Offensive Line Drills
Practice began as usual with some offensive linemen entering the field but it wasn't the starters. On the first field toward the end zone, Marc Colombo could be seen working on drills with Laurence Gibson. the seventh-round pick has really come on strong lately and there is hope that he can find a way to compete for the swing tackle position. Seemingly about 10 yards away was Frank Pollack and he was working with La'el Collins. These two guys could very well be future contributors as early as this season, seeing them put in the hard work necessary when all other players were still getting dressed is a good sign. A small sign, but a good one nonetheless.
Shortly after came the offensive line to a loud pop from the fans. In front, Tyron Smith and Doug Free led the way, followed by Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Ronald Leary and Mackenzy Bernadeau. They joined all the other guys and began to set up these hurdles. They would then grab these mammoth-sized medicine balls and get as low as possible to crouch under those hurdles. It was obviously a drill that's not especially easy for guys their size. It seemed more like a drill for the military but it was some good work.
They soon after split up into starters versus backups and had Ben Malena carrying the ball for slide and ripping drills. These were interesting because both Pollack and Colombo got the starters riled up with some yelling and it soon turned a bit ugly for the youngsters. In fact, on the very last rep, Tyron Smith nearly knocked Gibson out of his cleats with a sliding block. Nice stuff and very competitive for the offensive line. It was also nice to see Leary's physical presence back in.
Good Day To Be Back
All of the running backs had solid days except for Ben Malena who dropped some screens that had Gary Brown fuming. However, for the main cast, Darren McFadden may have had his best practice and Joseph Randle was right behind him. Darren McFadden was working with the ones and he and Tony Romo were on-fire in the middle of practice. McFadden had two huge runs that would have likely been 40+ yard touchdowns. Just a great day for #20. Randle wasn't as exciting but his pass blocking skills have really improved. He has to maintain discipline to not get lazy like he did on Sunday and was flagged. Randle was picking up blitzes on a day that was really tough on the quarterbacks and linemen. We all look forward to seeing what kind of progress McFadden and Randle can make in these last two contests heading into the regular season.
Wide Receivers Go Figure
One of the more impressive drills of the day was the figure 8 drill. Those that aren't too familiar, allow me to paint a picture. Two over sized hula-hoops set near the sideline in a figure 8. Each receiver would have to sprint in a figure 8 motion and then turn to catch a bullet from Tony Romo. It looked really cool and it got the fans nearby participating. People perked up especially for Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley. Speaking of those two, they are simply just amazing to watch along with Terrance Williams. The rapport all day with those guys and Romo had you getting pumped for the season. They were certainly on their game today and Bryant was excited to finally get to line up and go. Boy, did he ever as he caught a bomb from Romo that went for a TD followed by the X! Much to the delight of the onlookers.
Got To Be Special To Get Opportunities
Rich Bisaccia was very ticked off in our last report after Lucky Whitehead dropped another punt. He even had quite a few choice words for the rookie. Even when Lucky caught the next try and got to the 40, Bisaccia was still unimpressed. Well today was different as neither Lucky or any other rookie was handling kicks or punts. It was the Cole Beasley and Lance Dunbar show and both had solid days in the return game. Cole Beasley would have had a return for a touchdown on a punt where he ran up the left side and got great blocks to where he just had to beat Chris Jones. Which for 11 was pretty darn easy. Dunbar had a few good returns but more importantly just looked consistent which is not something we could say for the others. Bisaccia only had one outburst and that was at the beginning of the drill when an unknown player asked for water, his response? "You don't need water after one f$%^&*# rep!" Bisaccia is only going to play the best and the unit looked way better overall than what we've seen lately. Let's see if they can carry it over to the game against Minnesota.
The Defense Continues To Shine
It's been said so many times this camp but it can't be stressed enough on how improved this unit is from last season. Today was no different as they were making it tough on the offense all afternoon long. Greg Hardy's swagger was on early with a few dance moves during stretching but once the helmet goes on, The Kraken is all you get. Hardy was a menace and got to Tony Romo while reaching through the blocker to tag him. DeMarcus Lawrence was wreaking havoc on the left side and constantly knocking blockers back and batted a ball from Dustin Vaughan. Randy Gregory had a sack of his own and another batted pass. Nick Hayden even got involved on blowing up a run in the backfield and sacking Romo on the next. Three straight offensive tries ended in sacks with Tyrone Crawford joining his friends in the stats column. This is the type of stuff that gives these coaches confidence in their secondary. Losing Orlando Scandrick is a huge loss, but if this pass rush is better, there is chance that it will not hurt as bad.
Speaking of the secondary, Morris Claiborne made no bones about it, he begged for Bryant and had him three or four times. He didn't always win but he was competing his tail off. Tyler Patmon also got involved late in practice with a would-be pick-six out of the slot. Brandon Carr, still nursing his hand, was out there and practicing too. Corey White wasn't dazzling anyone but was impressive when they allowed him to cover on the outside opposite Carr. Byron Jones made a few pass deflections to help out. Solid day by the defense overall as they wanted to put their stamp on training camp 2015. Though Tony Romo got hot late with some good plays for Lance Dunbar and Jason Witten, defense won their second day in a row.
Now, the Cowboys will soon be headed back to Dallas to prepare for their third preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. Soon enough cuts will be coming and some guys have had the right approach to this whole ordeal, others probably had minimal chances anyways. Such is the life in the National Football League.