Full Pad Saturday: Dallas Gets To Work

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WR coach Jimmy Robinson was
injured early in practice.

Note:  I’ll have the dueling Twitter and Facebook chats at 9 pm ET tonight.  I ask the Facebook folks to pose their questions as new posts, so I don’t have a thread that runs 50 comments long.  (Look for Cowboys Nation on FB with the Don Meredith icon.  On Twitter, it’s CowboysNation1).

The Cowboys held their first full-pads session of the Jason Garrett regime Saturday afternoon, and got a bit more than anyone in the organization expected.  Practice was halted roughly 20 minutes in when a player ran into receivers coach Jimmy Robinson on the near sideline.  Robinson hit the turf and remained down near the 50 yard line.  Medical staff braced Robinson’s neck and put him on a body board.  At last report he was in a San Antonio hospital undergoing tests.

Robinson appeared to be conscious when carted from the stadium.  He also flexed his legs.  Jason Garrett took over the wide receiver drills in Robinson’s absence.

When work resumed, the lineups gave some hints as to where rookie tackle Tyron Smith will play.  After working the Thursday and Friday sessions at left tackle, Smith today played at his college spot on the right, with Sam Young flopping to left tackle.  Fellow rookie David Arkin played the entire day at left guard with the first unit.  He’ll likely stay at left on the second unit when Kyle Kosier is able to suit up this coming week.

On defense, Keith Brookings‘ aches and pains gave Sean Lee the full day at weak inside linebacker with the first team.  Lee took advantage, showing good awareness and breaking up several plays in the first 11-on-11 scrimmage of the day.  Regardless of whether Brooking is gone for a short time or an extended period, Lee appears ready to push him for the starting role.

The Roy Williams Memorial Drill

Remember Roy Williams’ fumble in the waning moments of the Saints Thanksgiving Day loss?  It appears Jason Garrett has.  Midway through practice he set up the third day of ball-stripping, ball-protection drills.  Garrett demonstrated the initial drill personally.   He lined up four defenders, two linebackers and two corners, ten yards off the line of scrimmage.  Garrett caught a short pass over the middle and loped directly up the field.  The linebackers converged on him from each side and both tried to strip the ball.  They then let him proceed another 15 yards or so up the field, where the two secondary players approached from each side.  They also tried punching and stripping the ball.

The drill had several benefits.  It taught the offensive players ball protection and let the defenders work at creating turnovers.  What’s more, by running the drill the full 50 yards up the field, all the skill positions players and back seven defenders got lots of running in at the same time.

Finally, it’s clear Garrett wants his players taking great care of the ball until they score or the whistle is blown. He won’t accept one-handing the ball or show-boating during a play.

Duels on Saturday

The Cowboys then practiced one-on-one drills between offensive and defensive players.  On the south side, the wideouts set up with Tony Romo and went in single coverage against a corner.  The coverage was tight, but the staring wideouts all looked good.  Miles Austin is well oiled and ready to play.  He beat solid Terence Newman coverage twice, beating Newman on a deep comeback and on a square in.  The drops that dogged Austin in last year’s Alamodome camp have disappeared.  Everything is sticking this summer.