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Update OTA's 2nd week

IRVING, Texas – The second week of Organized Team Activities saw some big changes for the Cowboys -- largely thanks to some players leaving the lineup with injuries, while others returned to the field.

Having had a chance to watch the fourth practice of this spring period, I jotted down some main thoughts, headlined by the return of a key member to the secondary.

•Morris Claiborne was back on the practice field after working just in individual drills last week. Claiborne lined up at right cornerback when the defense went to their nickel package and he did a nice job of working against Dez Bryant, handling him up the field. He was also in nice position to defend Bryant on the slant.

•In the continued search to find a replacement for the injured Sean Lee, Justin Durant was back on the practice field after missing the first week of practices. Durant lined up at middle linebacker with the first defense and appeared to be moving well. There were several balls that went to the edge and he was right there in position to make the play. Rookie linebacker Anthony Hitchens ran with the twos and Orie Lemon with the threes. DeVonte Holloman continues to work with the training staff but appears to be ready to return to action soon.

•Last week, Mackenzy Bernadeau did not take any snaps with the first offense at left guard, but that all changed on Monday. Bernadeau worked between Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick with some nice success. Bernadeau had been working some at center as well as splitting time with Tyronne Green, but it was Green that took all those reps while Bernadeau focused at guard.

•With no Gavin Escobar at practice, James Hanna took the majority of the reps as the second tight end in “12” personnel. Escobar missed Monday’s practice with a thigh bruise that did not appear serious. In the Team Run Period, both Hanna and Witten did a nice job of securing the edge allowing the backs to have the opportunity to get the ball downhill quickly. Hanna also took his normal role on the punt team as the left tackle.

•Monday was the first practice where Zack Martin looked like a rookie. Martin has been spot on with the majority of his reps at these practices, but he busted a line stunt by the defense while working with Doug Free. You can tell pre-snap that Free is trying to alert him to the potential for some type of game but he failed to execute the block. Free took Terrell McClain to the outside, while Tyrone Crawford came inside with Martin badly out of position leaning to his right. Crawford was in the backfield clean and would have tackled Dunbar easily for a five yard loss off the draw action.

•With Nick Hayden missing practice, Ken Bishop filled in on the first defense at the one-technique and had a nice, solid practice. He was able to hold his own against Travis Frederick, Ronald Leary and Zack Martin. Bishop might not be the tallest guy, but this actually helps him playing inside because he is able to work under blockers and get down the line. He really has a nice feel for how to play with leverage. There were no snaps where he was out of position or washed out of the play. Another rookie to keep an eye on is Davon Coleman, who took some snaps at left defensive end much like he did at Arizona State. Coleman was filling in for Ben Gardner who was dealing with a quad strain. By the way, Coleman is wearing a new number, No. 60.

•On the injury front, receiver L’Damian Washington had his arm in a sling during practice. Washington sprained his shoulder last week and the hope is to have him ready for training camp. It was a shame that he didn’t get to practice but this allowed Chris Boyd and Tim Benford to step up and make some nice plays. This was the first practice where Boyd looked comfortable and didn’t appear rusty. He was able to make an adjusting catch with Jocquel Skinner coming right over the top of his head. Boyd concentrated on the ball and break away from Skinner once he secured the ball. Benford playing out of the slot made a nice catch on an out route in the 7-on-7 period. The receiver position is an interesting one because it appears that there are plenty of players for not many spots, so every rep really counts

Its good to hear some positive stuff with all the negative crap out there.


Hawk wrote:
Its good to hear some positive stuff with all the negative crap out there.


The Cowboy beat writers are putting out some positive stuff. But Espn and the NFL Network, and national writers are talking nothing but trash.

The whole thing is a rift in Cowboy nation, the realists and trolls are having their day right now.

Predictions from 3-13 to 8-8 seem to be the norm. Yet the Cowboys haven't even suited up yet.

There are a lot of confusing stories being written ie: Crawford says people will be real surprised how good Cowboys defense is. I guess he didn't mean himself, since yesterday he was saying his Achilles hurts him all the time.

Then you read how good Escobar is, but after one day he's standing on the sidelines. But Hanna is looking great coming out of the slot.

These kind of stories keep everybody's head spinning, these are just 2 among many.

Scout's Eye: Some Under The Radar Stories From OTAs
Posted 16 hours ago

Bryan Broaddus
Football Analyst/Scout
Follow BryanBroaddus on Twitter All Bryan Broaddus Articles

IRVING, Texas – There’s only so much we can glean from a handful of limited-contact practices in the months before training camp starts. As the Cowboys get deeper into Organized Training Activities, we can fully cover obvious developments like Tony Romo’s recovery progress or the search for Sean Lee’s replacement.

I wanted to take the time to look through some of the lesser-discussed facets of these practices, though. They might not gran headlines, but here are five things that could have big ramifications for the team going forward.

I have had two opportunities to observe a practice with Scott Linehan as the primary play caller. He is big on putting running backs in the formation as receivers. He is not afraid to put a running back out wide near the sideline or in the slot.

One of the strengths of this running back position is their ability to catch the ball in space. There were times during his college career where DeMarco Murray was lined up as a receiver and had the ball thrown in his direction on the outside. As we work through these OTA practices and minicamps, Linehan will be able to add a wrinkle here and there to this offense and this is one of those opportunities.
During Monday’s practice, Mackenzy Bernadeau took some snaps with the first offense at left guard. I have written before that a battle for a roster spot could come down to Bernadeau and Tyronne Green, but we should not discount Bernadeau taking a starting spot away from Ronald Leary this summer.

It is not that Leary has been playing poorly, but Bernadeau just might be too good to put on the bench. Leary and Tyron Smith were a nice combination in 2013, but these are the days where you can experiment a little bit with combinations to see how they might work out. I look for Bernadeau to continue to split reps with Leary but also see a fair amount of work at center.
Been trying to keep track of the wide receiver group and how that is shaking out. When they go into “11” personnel, Cole Beasley comes into the slot with Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams outside. The next receivers off the bench have been rookie Devin Street and LaRon Byrd.

Dwayne Harris has not practiced and L’Damian Washington is out with a sprained shoulder. Tim Benford has been getting work in the slot with Jamar Newsome on the outside. I was told that Newsome had a couple of really nice grabs in the red zone 7-on-7 portion of practice. Chris Boyd has not received as many snaps as the others in this rotation. This is one of those positions where a young guy other than Street might have trouble making the roster.

Despite the fact that he might not enjoy playing as a defensive end, Martez Wilson is getting plenty of work. Wilson is lining up on both the left and right side. Wilson might not have the power to play on that left side and handle the rush, but as a nickel rusher he brings a little juice.

I can see in the second half of some of these preseason games where he and DeMarcus Lawrence will get plenty of opportunities. Wilson has a little shake when he comes up the field. He is a hard guy for tackles to cleanly get their hands on. In a rotational scheme, he has a chance.
If you want a Mike linebacker to keep an eye on this summer, Dontavis Sapp from Tennessee might be your guy. We all focus on Justin Durant, DeVonte Holloman and Anthony Hitchens but with Holloman on the sidelines, Sapp has been getting more snaps and hasn’t been disappointing at all.

One of his best traits coming out of college was his ability to play in zone coverage with his drops and his flow to the ball. He had a really nice awareness of where receivers were in routes. There were snaps where he was outstanding in working through the trash and making the tackle.

From what I have been able to observe, his sense of urgency has been better and this was an area that I had some questions about. Like his linebacker partner, Will Smith, I think he will be better when the pads come on.

Not a Broadass fan

He is a know it all and a jerk.

I see nobody is posting again, and I don't blame them. The media stuff is just crap, and it's really boring.

Seems to me everyday there are more and more Cowboys just working on the sidelines with trainers. The sad thing is these guys are mostly supposed to be in as starters.

I guess it will be a steady diet of BS until we put on the pads in Oxnard. Or we could copy and paste every stupid article out there....think I'll pass on that.

For me its the frustration of guys in shorts getting injured. Plus the media is grasping at straws to come up with something interesting.

You can see all the attention whores on other sites coping and pasting any garbage they can find. I think its going to be pretty boring for awhile.

Four assistant coaches talked about what's happening at the Cowboys OTAs yesterday. We take a look at what they said.

Cowboys' multiple offensive voices will preach one message ... simplicity | David Moore, DMN
David Moore wonders whether the Cowboys may have collected too many signal callers over the years, and whether confusion will trump clarity on offense. Scott Linehan argues that won't be the case:

"[Garrett's] big emphasis was to prune things down, to get to basics, get to principles that we believe in, what we like and then build back up off that,’’ Linehan said. "You can take it to the simplest form, then all get anxious to start adding our wrinkles to things and all that stuff, but that’s a secondary goal. The primary goal is to get really good at the basic principles — what to do in the run and pass game.’’

DB Coach Seeks Even Rotation With Top Three Corners - Nick Eatman,
We've already established that there will be a lot of rotation on the defensive line, perhaps even in the entire front seven. Add the corners to that list, according to secondary coach Jerome Henderson:

"We’ve got three corners who we think are starting-caliber corners," Henderson said walking off the practice field Tuesday. "We’re just rotating those guys and getting them all reps and getting them ready to play. We knew that last year. That hasn’t changed."

Gary Brown Thinks Cowboys Need To Keep A Fullback - Rowan Kavner,
Instead of taking this as an indictment of the blocking abilities of the tight ends, we'll take this as an endorsement of the two fullbacks currently on the roster. For both fullbacks, their time to shine will come when the pads get on.

"If you look at the teams who are winning it – Seattle, Baltimore – they all have a running game and they have that fullback in there for that presence, that physical toughness you have to have when you want to close games out."

"He’s another guy we’re not going to see what his full potential is until he puts the pads on," Brown said of Copeland. "His reputation is as a huge blocker. When he gets those pads on, we’ll see what he can really do."

I agree when the pads come on we'll find out a whole lot about what we really have.

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