The Cowboys returned to full pads today with a spirited workout that repeated some earlier points of emphasis. Turnovers, ball protection and the screen game got more reps, adding to the copious reps we’ve already seen on these points. The offense and defense worked on plays inside the offense’s ten yard line.
Individually, we’re seeing some jockeying. Some younger players who have been slow off the mark are starting to move. Others appear to be plateauing or hitting a wall. Many of these players will take a back seat to the many free agent veterans who will formally sign their contracts and rejoin the action tomorrow.
The practice began with an extended kickoff drill. Coach Joe DeCamillis led the longest kickoff return drill of the summer. The philosophy on returns appears to have changed somewhat. The formation had five men across the midfield line with two more just inside the outside blockers and five yards behind the line. A second pair of blockers deploys about ten yards to each side of the return man, just inside the yard markers. These deep two form the wedge.
In contrast to past approaches, the forward seven go forward at the kickoff, trying to blunt the coverage unit’s charge on the defense’s side of the 50. The back two then drop back and join the two-man wedge to form a wall to either side. It looks like a delayed punt return drill when run properly. It worked on a couple of occasions, setting up Akwasi Owusu-Ansah for two long returns.
After positional drills, the offense and defense scrimmaged 11-on-11. Stephen McGee got first run with the rest of the first team offense and made some plays against the 2nd defensive unit. McGee threw a crisp deep out to Kevin Ogletree for a long gain up the left sideline. The followed it with a well executed bootleg pass for John Phillips for another first down.
McGee then showed his youth, holding on to a second bootleg too long. He led his tight end towards a linebacker who almost intercepted the pass. McGee recovered smartly on the next play. He got solid max protection and completed a bomb to Ogletree, who ran a deep diagonal from the right flanker spot and got well behind Barry Church. Ogletree caught the ball in stride and was tackled at the defense’s five.
The team broke into positional drills and the offense again worked out a half-dozen different screens. The receivers, tight ends and backs all got their versions of a screen called.
When the team broke into unit work Jason Garrett again supervised the wide receiver drills for the still absent Jimmy Robinson. Combination routes were again the order of the day, with post-corner-post routes, slants and gos, slant-up-and-outs, and slant-and-out routes being run. Raymond Berry would have approved.
The team then worked on the daily turnover circuit, bringing back the set of drills from day one, where the defense worked on punching the ball, stripping it from the quarterback, intercepting it and recovering fumbles on the bounce. The backs and receivers worked ball custody with the long bungee cable balls.
Dallas then ran a split field drill, with the receivers and corners going 1-on-1 while the other players ran a 9-on-9 drill. This was the Sean Lee drill, as number 50 stuffed several inside and edge runs.