Today I wanted to put the Scout’s Eye on a few plays that caught my attention from the Cowboys mini-camp practice.
· There was a point during the two minute work where things got very competitive between Dez Bryant and Morris Claiborne which I didn’t view as a bad situation at all. It started with Bryant lined to Claiborne’s side on 4th down and needing a first down to keep the drive going. Kyle Orton did the smart thing and noticed that there was a single safety in the middle of the field and Claiborne was going to have to make the play to the outside by himself. At the snap, Claiborne jams Bryant with his right hand, then bails outside to run with him. Orton’s eyes are with Bryant the whole time. Orton tries to fit the ball over the top of Claiborne who is in the body of Bryant. Claiborne is able to knock the ball away but the referee calls pass interference.
Later in the drive, Claiborne again is matched up with Bryant, again with single high safety. Claiborne jams Bryant who fights up the field as Orton again throws the ball to the outside. Bryant turns his body in the air to adjust to the flight of the ball, Claiborne tries to lean on Bryant to force him out but Bryant manages to get both his toes down in bounds for the catch
The next play, Orton again sees Bryant across from Claiborne. As he takes the snap, Claiborne again gets his hands on Bryant’s body so there is a little separation there. Orton floats the ball to the near pylon as Bryant goes vertical for it with one hand as Claiborne underneath him. Bryant comes down again with the ball but Claiborne uses enough force to cause Bryant to land out of bounds, incomplete.
On the next play, Bryant lines up again wide left across from Claiborne. For two plays Callahan has tried to work Claiborne to the outside now he is going to try and beat him inside. Kiffin tries to counter by taking the Will linebacker Ernie Sims and buzzing him underneath the slant but Bryant’s route goes hard inside clearing Sims but Claiborne is right there as well playing with his right hand, he tries to knock the pass away which he manages to do but the official to the inside calls pass interference again on Claiborne which from field level appeared to be another close call but one that was made.
The drive was finished on the next play when Orton found Jason Witten in the flat on the right side for the touchdown. What I liked about the back and forth between Bryant and Claiborne was how neither player was willing to give an inch to the other. You saw the fire in Bryant and how much he wanted the ball in those situations but you also saw Claiborne battle every step of the way to keep the ball out of his hands. Those two young players really got something out of working against each other that will help them in the future just because of the match up of good versus good.
· From a scouting perspective, I have really liked with this coaching staff has done by getting plenty of these young players in the mix to see if they can hold up to the pressure of what they are going to feel in training camp. One player that stood out for me today was linebacker DeVonte Holloman. In this scheme Holloman was drafted to play as the Sam linebacker and that is where he has seen the majority of his action but he has also taken some reps as the Mike in the nickel. Holloman made a play today in 7-on-7 that caught my attention and I am sure it did the coaches as well.
On the play, the offense goes empty formation with three receivers and two tight ends. Nick Stephens is at quarterback and in the shot gun. Holloman is lined up as the Sam on the line to the defensive right side. At the snap, Holloman begins his drop to the outside working toward Beasley who is running a route on Wilcox as he works for width. Beasley is between Wilcox and Holloman who has also gained depth. Stephens tries to fit the ball between the two defenders in the end zone but Holloman gets his head around quickly as he sees Beasley react to the ball. Holloman now adjusts his body from the right side to the left and makes the catch of the ball while fully extended. If the ball gets over his head, it’s a touchdown to Beasley. It was a nice, athletic play for a young guy that showed some really good awareness as well.
Photos from Day 2 of Cowboys' Minicamp >>