DallasCowboys.com Staff Writer
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Sat. Practice Recap: Claiborne, Williams Square Off In Pads
OXNARD, Calif. – The common logic was that practice would get more intense when the Cowboys put their pads on Saturday afternoon, and it took a grand total of 45 minutes for that to prove true.
After a sleepy two days of walkthroughs to open 2014 training camp, the Cowboys exploded into a riveting afternoon practice on Day 3, highlighted by an intense few exchanges between Morris Claiborne and Terrance Williams.
There has been no shortage of debate about Claiborne in recent months – namely, that 2014 is a crucial year for him to prove his value as the No. 6 overall pick in the 2012 draft. The young corner opened practice like he was well-aware of that fact, as he harassed Williams in some stingy man coverage during one-on-one reps.
“It just got a little bit competitive – he didn’t like the way I was touching him,” Claiborne said. “I don’t know what else I was supposed to do except let him run his route. It gets like that sometimes out here, but we’re still teammates, we’re still buddies.”
The sequence continued to escalate, as the pair continued to have words for each other after each rep. Claiborne even went as far as to demand another receiver go against him, calling for Dez Bryant to come across the field from the other side of the drill.
“I was caught up in the moment,” Claiborne said. “Me and Dez are usually going against each other, each and every snap, and he was working on the other side today – which I understand.”
For a moment, it looked like the first scuffle of training camp would come within the very first hour, as Williams made his unhappiness with Claiborne’s aggression known – from very close proximity. For his part, Williams agreed it was left on the practice field.
“Yeah. That’s still my friend. Football is football,” he said. “Whatever happens out here stays out here. He’s still my good friend. Nothing is going to change. I’m done with that.”
It made for some gripping, intense football – not to mention competitive, which is something Jason Witten said can only help a roster with so much youth.
“Any time you put pads on for the first time, you’re going to get tempers flaring and competitiveness coming out,” Witten said. “That’s good for your football team, especially ours. We need that. Coach Garrett said it Day 1, all positions are open. Let the best man win.
- Plenty of eyes were on Rolando McClain in his first full practice with the Cowboys. The plan was to ease him into the practice, and that appeared to be the case as he acclimated to the pace of practice. McClain went through the full array of position workouts, and he partook in the full-team portions of practice as a second-team linebacker.
- Not to pile more hype on the already-hyped offensive line, but the Cowboys’ starting five blockers shined during one-one-one pass rush drills. Neither DeMarcus Lawrence nor Jeremy Mincey could gain ground on Tyron Smith, and Doug Free was impressive against the likes of George Selvie and Caesar Rayford. Travis Frederick stonewalled every lineman who went against him, and the guards shined, as well. Henry Melton beat Zack Martin on the first rep of the drill, but Martin rebounded nicely to hold his own against everyone else. Mackenzy Bernadeau was also solid to give the starting line a solid grade.
- Tony Romo went through Saturday’s practice in full after sitting out on Friday. He went through his usual routine in individuals – however, he didn’t throw any passes during the Cowboys’ first team period. He returned to uncork some balls later in the practice, heaving one deep downfield to Bryant.
- Rookie defensive end Ben Gardner became the first injury issue of training camp when he left the field with a shoulder injury about halfway through practice. Claiborne also exited drills toward the tail end of the day, but he said it was simply cramping and felt fine.
- The Dallas Cowboys officially opened the 2014 Training Camp in Oxnard with a Kickoff Extravaganza, treating 4,279 fans to a performance by the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, a routine from the Oxnard High School Silver Star Drum Line, a presentation of the colors by the Naval Base Ventura County and the singing of the National Anthem prior to practice. The total attendance thus far is 7,782.
- Davon Coleman – The undrafted rookie defensive tackle couldn’t be blocked when the team went to one-on-one individual drills. He gave the opposing backup interior linemen absolute fits with his quickness, and they could barely get their hands on him before he was upfield.
- Chris Boyd – Boyd made the first big play of camp, as minicamp standout corner Tyler Patmon was in good coverage on him down the left sideline but couldn’t break up the pass on a streak. Boyd extended and made the play. Unfortunately, later on Boyd was wide open on a double move that left his man in the dust, but he couldn’t hang on to the pass.
- Tyron Smith – There might not be a player who’s made as drastic an improvement from this point last year until now as Smith. DeMarcus Ware would give Smith fits at camp last year, and now there’s no one who can even try to get by the left tackle, who was perfect during individual drills.
Play of the Day:
Jermey Parnell had the dubious distinction of being victimized – worse than anyone else – during individual pass rush drills. The No. 3 tackle lined up opposite Tyrone Crawford, and nothing was the same after that. Crawford bull rushed Parnell from the outside and steamrolled him, knocking the big guy onto his back to the delight of the crowd.
DE Ben Gardner (shoulder)
Returned to Practice:
LB Rolando McClain
Sunday, July 27
2:00 p.m. (PDT) Coach Garrett press conference
3:45 p.m. (PDT) Practice
Monday, July 28
Players Day Off No Availability
Tuesday, July 29
10:30 a.m. (PDT) Walk-Thru
12:00 p.m. (PDT) Coach Garrett Press Conference
3:45 p.m. (PDT) Practice