Some thoughts from the first day of training camp:
You will hear all kinds of crazy things about the type of day Mo Claiborne had, but I am going to take the approach that it was a good day for the rookie. I knew there were going to be days when he was going to struggle in coverage and today was one of those days. It’s not easy to deal with Dez Bryant, Miles Austin or even Dwayne Harris. Bryant gave the rookie a lesson today in route running. Bryant took him all over the field, but you know that is a good thing. I liked that Dez showed him the “4” and “5”. It was good for Ogletree to show him the “9” and let him play against all these looks. As Jason Garrett would say, it’s not easy in this league. The more routes that Claiborne sees, the better prepared he will be. I don’t see it as a bad day for Claiborne, but a good learning one.
Thought Brandon Carr had an interesting practice today. When he can get his hands on the receiver, he is outstanding. There were plenty of opportunities when he had to face Dez Bryant and there were good battles on both sides of the ball. When Carr struggled the most is when the routes went inside and had to carry the receiver across the formation. Bryant ran a “4” against Carr, who was unable to keep up. Carr didn’t have the burst to run with Bryant nor did he later in the period when Ogletree ran the same route and got separation. There doesn’t seem to be an issue with Carr going up the field, but carrying routes across just got my attention.
Been talking throughout the spring and now into the summer about how wide receiver Cole Beasley was making a push to be noticed every day in practice, but today a different group of receivers stepped up and caught my eye. Rookies Tim Benford and Saalim Hakim brought their “A” games today. Benford was quick in and out of his breaks. Hands were solid and dependable. Hakim is an explosive player that finally looks like he is in shape. In the rookie camps and OTAs, he wasn’t. Hakim has a second gear with the ability to run away from people. In one of the last plays in practice he ran an “8” cut and caught the ball on the move. The pass was a strike from Stephen McGee who had been struggling with his accuracy. Hakim doesn’t return punts but look for him on kick off returns.
Really liked the day that running backs Phillip Tanner and Ed Wesley had. Thought that both carried the ball with some power and authority. Both of these guys are loads to deal with in the open field. Tanner carried the ball hard downhill in the run period getting the ball off the tackle, while Wesley once again used his vision and quickness to make some nice backside cuts. Both of these backs catch the ball well out of the backfield, but where Tanner has the advantage is as a pass protector. These backs are really going to shine when the pads do come on.
Jay Ratliff sat out Monday's practice, so that meant Josh Brent and Robert Callaway took the majority of the reps today. Brent did a better job of getting off blocks and playing with his hands. Where he has struggled before is when he gets in too many personal battles and the ball goes by him. Today, he was much better. Callaway is a large man, but plays with little man quickness. One of Callaway’s strengths is when he can do things on the move. When he can shoot the gap, he is a problem to handle. There were several plays Monday when Brent and Callaway were up the field and into the backfield quickly which is a good sign for this defensive front.