Cowboys Training Camp Day 1 – It’s A Process


Jason Garrett is nothing if not punctual.  The horn blew at 3:45 PM local time and the 2014 Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Day 1 was underway. Everything looked different this year, and yet it was the same. The field was laid out differently than in past years. Defensive line drills were being held in a new part of the field and with new patterns. Offensive linemen were running drills in the old defensive line spots. Everything was moved around yet the same “basic” drills were run as the beginning of last year.

Special teams worked on gunners getting off blocks at the line and redirecting towards a moving spot representing the ball carrier. Offensive line worked on double teaming a defender then shedding and getting to the second level. Hand placement was very specific. The dB’s worked riding WR’s out of bounds keeping them “in their pocket” while they maintained contact. All drills that are normally run at the beginning of camp and very familiar.

The Cowboys managed to make it through the “Crawford”drill without mishap. Last year when running the defensive linemen drill where they slalom through upright dummies ending up at a red one representing the QB Crawford never made it, as he collapsed and did not get up with a blown achilles. This year no worries and Crawford looked sharp as did Demarcus Lawrence and Terrell McClain. Jeremy Mincey on the other hand did not look at his best. He received treatment on the field on the back of his left knee and was awkward and stiff getting up. Jeremy does not look to be 100% and is in danger of falling into Nick Hayden territory as a bridge placeholder to younger players.

Defensive ends Demarcus Lawrence and Wilson Martez both looked excellent in drills. A quick first step combined with athletic execution in space makes these two players look very interesting rushing from the right side. They get off the line with explosion and follow it up with rare ability to bend to the QB keeping their center of gravity low and direction focused on the target. Mincey needs to get better quickly to hold onto a roster spot.

Random Notes:

  • Normally a late arrival, Romo came out early (for him) today
  • Matt Johnson can boogie
  • Ahmad Dixon can track deep balls, close the cap and snatch
  • Like last year, turnover drills were practiced early and often
  • Lawrence , McClain, Bass & Crawford ran the 2nd string line
  • Mincey, Hayden, Melton, Selvie ran the 1st  string
  • Garrett pushes the pace, always
  • Any player vs player action today was run at 1/2 speed
  • Morris Claiborne can SKY! Tracks the ball and brings it in.
  • Dez ran drills with his outside arm held by a towel so he could attempt to make catches as if he was being held by the defender.
  • La’Damian Washington played to upright when he would break down for cuts
  • Beasely is running as the 3rd WR
  • The burst of Ben Malena and Dunbar stood out

Leon Lett had the defensive linemen working a drill where the defender would move (with the ball) laterally while keeping a blocker arm-barred at arms length. On a signal the defender would shed the blocker and move towards the focus point.

Defensive line worked the one gap drill where you get off the ball and into the backfield BEFORE you make your read, then going right or left depending on where the ball goes. This is the opposite of a two gap system where you make your read before you pick your gap.

DB’s ran a drill where they would run 10 yards towards a coach. Behind the coach is a man with a giant beach ball. The defender breaks down as he gets to the coach/blocker then cuts towards the ball which the other coach has just bounced. The DB has to then “wrap” the ball up just as he would a running back. If they don’t break down properly they really can’t get to the ball. Like the Zen reference about the sound of one hand clapping this is the sight of no man tackling or CBA drill #465-A.

Cole Beasely will be at an advantage vs Seattle’s bigger DB’s. He can make cuts while taller guys are still striding allowing him excellent separation. The Cowboys are running him out and up the field in patterns as well as out of the backfield to free him up for seam and outside routes. He is excellent at finding the space between zones rather it be from side to side or vertical. Romo was able to drop a few passes right into the Beasely bucket for completions.

Stretching, especially the lower extremities is a big thing this year. Garrett had the Cowboys take a solid 10 min stretch break approximately 1/4 of the way into practice as well as their normal 1/2 point stretch. Any player not giving full attention to the drill was corrected. Looks like Jason Garrett is tired of ham string injuries.

So much to see, so much to report. We will close today with a quick quote from WR Tim Benford after practice.

CN: “Tim, SportsTalkLine, how you feeling this year man?

Tim: “Good, good.”

CN: “Great to see you out there.”

Tim: “Thank you sir.”

Yes, I plan to take my in depth questions to the White House Briefing next.

We will be bringing you another LIVE Cowboys Camp Podcast tomorrow at 7 PM CST.

A quick reminder, any donations to the Camp Cause are GREATLY appreciated. We will have five reporters on the sidelines starting Tuesday and there is no donation too small or unappreciated! Find the Camp Thermometer on the right of any page. There is a pay pal link next to it. A huge thanks to those that have already given and homage to those in the process.

What say you Cowboys Nation?

Another Left Coast Cowboys Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over

  • Yuma Cactus

    Just like Christmas. Thanks for the update and the LIVE #CowboysCamp report is a great and unique feature.

    • Steven Van Over

      Much appreciated amigo. Be better when you get here!

  • Daniel Lujan

    What was it about Johnson that warranted the “boogie” comment in this article?

    • Steven Van Over

      He was running loose and displayed excellent burst/make up speed. Him, Wilcox and Hamilton have jump. Throw Ahmad Dixon into that group as well, though not quite as visually evident.

      • Lee1936

        Steven, thanks for the first slice out of the camp cake. I lapped it up. Trying to wrap my mind around the possibility that Matt Johnson is actually on the field, running and playing–it seems UNREAL. Did you notice Keith Smith?

        • Steven Van Over

          A big ol’ “yes” on Keith Smith. He played with LB and Safeties. MOSTLY LB. Elephant?

          • AustonianAggie

            He’s smaller than Ryan Smith another safety right? It seems like everyone is mentioning Keith Smith here and there but I don’t know why

          • Lee1936

            Nick, KS averaged 17 tackles/game, and got some INTs. I was impressed by his videos. He’s a very athletic 6’1″, 230-lb, with a sub-4.5 forty. A play-maker in college.
            I always enjoy, usually agree with, and often learn from your articles, so I’m glad you’ve taken to contributing more on CN.

          • Steven Van Over

            As are we!

          • Lee1936

            Mostly LB–that’s good. Seems to me we have more talent than we can keep at Safety.

  • AustonianAggie

    Great post Steve! So Ben Bass is playing the 1-tech on the 2nd string? And Selvie still gets lined up on the strong side? Interesting….

    • Steven Van Over

      Bass is at the 3Tech at this point. Yes on Selvie – strong side. Weak side is Mincey, Lawrence, Marrtez. Watch for Martez. If he can translate this when pads come on, we have a winner.

      • AustonianAggie

        He was a freak in HS, highest rated player or something going into college, but converted to LB in College. Ok So Hayden and McClain are at the ones. That’s what I was expecting but with all the shuffling in mini camps do to injured 3s, I wasn’t sure

  • Lee1936

    If Mincey falters, then Ben Gardner could win a roster spot.

    • Steven Van Over

      I respect what Mincey can bring. I salivate about what Gardner “could” bring.

  • Dan Turner

    Great piece Steve :) You have no idea how happy you make me with saying “Claiborne can SKY” as well. Last year, he was totally off the pace physically. A full offseason could make all the difference. Again, great work, and I’ll see you on Monday!!!

    • Steven Van Over

      Hardly wait till you get here my man. Flap those arms harder!