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Scout’s Eye: Murray Starting To Shine; Backup TEs Step Up
Some observations from the film room here in Oxnard:
-- Thought it was the best day for DeMarco Murray in regards to carrying the ball. He was decisive on his reads and he finished them with power. He appears to be playing with a bit of a chip on his shoulder this season with the all health talk from the off season. There is more than a hint of a physical side to his game. There were several reps in team run where you could tell that he was reading the blocks quickly and anticipating where he was going to need to make his cut to gain positive yards.
I have always admired his trait of vision but he is showing the ability to be patient when he needs to be but quickly gaining the corner when the read takes him that way. Where Murray has been outstanding as well, has been his ability to catch the ball in space. He has worked well on the underneath routes but his feel for the positioning on the screen has been spot on as well. What makes Murray a complete back, is his ability to step up on the blitz pickup.
In the one-on-one work against the linebackers he wasn't at his consistent best but when it came to team and the two minute drill, he was square and effective without any issues. This offense is clearly better scheme wise when he is in the game. There have been some plays in camp where it wasn't clean up front and he has made a difference in the result of the play. Bill Callahan said it best, "It's night and day without him in the lineup because his running style makes us a better group." Its clear that Murray is playing with a purpose and it appears early, that the new scheme is to his liking.
-- Have been impressed with what I have seen from this group of tight ends minus James Hanna. Gavin Escobar has stepped in nicely and on Wednesday, had one of his better days blocking on the backside in the "12" personnel package.
With Jason Witten on the front side working with Tyron Smith and Doug Free along with Escobar on the backside, Murray had the option to carry the ball play side to the edge or cut it back through the middle because Escobar managed to cut off the backside end. He was physically in position and maintaining his leverage throughout the play.
In that same period, Dante Rosario pulled from his left to right following Kevin Kowalski inside to deliver a block that allowed Phillip Tanner some room to get into the second level. Andre Smith who is known more as a blocker, was able to release up the field, two separate times and snatch the ball in traffic that would have resulted in first downs. Colin Cochart has also shown the ability to work up the field in space and make sure catches.
In this scheme, with the use of the tight end in the offense is key in two areas, the ability to set the edge in the running game but the plays that come off it such as the boots and waggles. So far with Jason Witten, leading the way, this group has been one of the bright spots in camp.
-- It was good to see cornerback B.W. Webb make that interception during the two minute period off Kyle Orton on Wednesday. Webb has had his share of struggles coverage wise as he continues to learn how to play with technique for Jerome Henderson and Joe Baker.
For Webb it's been a mixed bag at camp with the good and the bad but like all young corners, he just has to learn through his experiences in how to play these routes and maintain position as you do it. There is no question that he has the skill level and talent but that will do him no good unless he gains an understand of how these coaches expect him to play. The good situation is that he is getting plenty of reps and that is a positive thing. On his interception, he was playing in nickel as the slot corner on the right side, matched up with Cole Beasley. Webb was in zone coverage when Beasley broke up the field and was waiting for him to arrive. Upfront, along the defensive line, Kyle Wilber and Jerome Long were working a twist game on the outside. Wilber did an outstanding job of driving down inside while Long looped around to his right. Wilber got so far inside on Darrion Weems and Rey Dominguez, that Kyle Orton was unable to get anything on the ball. Webb was in great shape playing in front of Beasley and went up to make the interception to end the drive and the practice. For Webb at this moment, he is clearly behind Scandrick and Sterling Moore for playing time but this type of play could get him going in the coming days.