Some more thoughts from the Cowboys OTA practice at Valley Ranch:
Travis Frederickis getting a real taste what it is like to block a linebacker that is one of the best reactionary players in the league. Sean Leeis making life difficult for Frederick who as soon as he snaps the ball and takes his first step play side, he is already two steps behind Lee who is moving very well coming off the toe injury. I feel it’s a good thing for Frederick to have to deal with Lee when he is in there because if you can get your head across to block him, then you can block the majority of the Mike linebackers in the league. It’s really amazing to watch Lee when the ball is snapped because there is no wasted movement or motions to the ball. He has an unreal ability to find creases or gaps when the line starts their zone blocks and he is in the backfield for a tackle for loss. There appears no ill effects from the injury of last season.
- I believe this 4-3 defense will make
Bruce Cartera star in this league. It’s a perfect fit for his ability to make plays from the backside. Like Lee you see a player that once he sees what is happening to him scheme wise, he is gone to the ball. Where Carter is going to surprise people will be his ability to rush off the edge and cause problems. Where these defensive coaches are going to take advantage of Carter is rushing him with either Ware and Spencer. There have been times where Carter has been a terrible matchup for a back to have to deal with because of his size and power but also he has shown some wiggle to avoid the blocks. In clear air, Carter has really been impressive because of his high closing rate on the quarterback. He is going to be a problem for offenses off the edge on several fronts.
- I really believe that Terrence Williams is going to have to have a great training camp to beat
Dwayne Harrisout of a job for this third receiver spot. I know there is going to be a competition for the spot but these offensive coaches really like to use Miles Austinin the slot and Dez Bryantopposite on the outside so that leaves the receiver next to Austin and right now, I believe that guy appears to be Harris. I honestly believe that Harris along with Bryant has made the biggest jump as a receiver in the terms of route running and catching the ball. We all have seen what he does in the open field with the ball in his hands on punt returns and the feel he has for reading blocks plus pound for pound he is the best blocking receiver they have on this squad. I do not see Harris’ height as a limitation to him because I feel like he turns that into a strength for him. Williams is a talented player but he really is going to have to fight to win that job.
- When the front office activated defensive tackle Robert Callaway off the practice squad, I wrote a report on DallasCowboys.com of his ability from the pre-season work with the Detroit Lions in 2011. Callaway saw action in two games last season against the Bengals and Steelers but didn’t record any stats. I remember seeing some positive work from Callaway in those games in Detroit and I really believed that he actually might help this defense that was really banged up inside and was also struggling with the
Josh Brentsituation but that wasn’t the case at all. He looked overmatched at the nose and I really questioned myself what I saw in his work. Now fast forward to this OTA, Callaway looks in much better physical condition and he is playing with much better power at the point. Since the coaches have been cautious with Ratliff and his reps, Hatcher has been playing the three and Callaway the one with really nice effort and his ability to get some push. He has took on blockers which has allowed Hatcher to deal with more one-on-one blocks and it has led to some inside pressure. With Brian Price out of the picture, someone was going to have to step up and help with this one technique and it looks like very early that Callaway is trying to be that guy.
- Of the down the line offensive linemen that is trying to work his way into the mix is
Kevin Kowalskiwho has yet to line up at center but when taking the majority of the reps at right guard. We all tend to forget that some of Kowalski’s finest moments as a Cowboy has been against quality competition like the 49ers and Giants. Where Kowalski has stepped up in this zone scheme is in the way he moves to position himself as a blocker in the running game by working his head across his man and securing his block. He has also been a difficult guy to drive back when the team has thrown the ball. He has been square with a nice base and moving along the line without struggling at all. There have been plenty of plays where I thought things would probably fall apart for his but he has been very steady.
- I said on our internet show “Talkin’ Cowboys” today that I believe that you will see
Barry Churchstarting at one of the safety positions and then let the battle begin for the other spot. It appears that Matt Johnson, Will Allen, Danny McCray, J.J. Wilcoxand Jakar Hamiltonare all in the mix. Allen has the experience and he has the confidence of the coaches as a special teams player. McCray has been getting work but he too is a special teams player and that will most likely be his role which really leaves Johnson and the two rookies but to be honest, Johnson is like a rookie too but he is getting plenty of reps. The coaches have been working Church with different combinations of Allen and Johnson but I have not seen Wilcox get a shot with him. I have got an early feeling that they are bringing Wilcox along slowly allowing him to learn what is going on, looking for an opportunity to cut him loose with Church and see how that pairing works. I plan to continue to keep an eye on how these coaches play him until we get to Oxnard.