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Scout's Notebook: More Red Zone Reps For Witten?

Posted Jul 27, 2013

Some thoughts from the practice field Saturday here in Oxnard:

  • The injury Ben Bass during practice on Friday was not that serious which is outstanding news for group that has received it's share of bad news. It was Bass' left ankle which was the one that he hurt last season and despite feeling pain in it, he didn't hear the pop which he knew was going to land him on the injured reverse. It is no surprise the type of camp that he has had up until this point playing both tackle and end. He is a smart player, that understands how to work against blocks. Look for him back much sooner than later to continue helping this rotation along the line.
  • One of the biggest differences I have noticed with Bill Callahan calling the plays over Jason Garrett is how he has used the tight ends down the middle of the field and how he swings the backs wide in the red zone to create space. Since I started covering this team on the media side, I never could understand why Jason Witten wasn't used more in the red zone to attack defenses up the field. From what I am seen in OTA's, minicamps and now training camps, Witten is getting more opportunities inside and the quarterbacks are taking advantage of the situation. What I have always seen from Witten is his ability to use that big body plus his ability to know how to work himself open in tight quarters. During Friday's practice, Witten went up and nodding to the outside which froze Barry Church in place, then went up past him, Witten was smart enough to stay away from Will Allen on the other side, which gave Romo the perfect amount of space to fit the ball in for the touchdown. When the Red Zone offense struggles, it is never a bad idea to get Jason Witten more involved.
  • Don't let the fact that you haven't heard much about the type of camp that Bruce Carter is having, lead you to believe that he is not doing his job. Every night that I go into the film room, Carter has shown up whether its Team Run, 7-on-7 or the Compete Period, he has been there. Now playing on the weak side, outside, instead of inside at linebacker in the 3-4 has not changed how he still gets to the ball. Where Carter appears to have picked up and developed his game from last season is in his pass coverage. Kiffin has used he and Lee inside on some blitzes in the nickel but Carter has been solid in reading when backs like Murray and Dunbar have swung wide and he has to pick them up. It has been rare to see him out of position, to pick them up in coverage. What Carter has been able to do is also finish the play when the ball is thrown to his side.
  • I am starting to see more of linebacker Brandon Magee and I knew this would be the case when the pads have been put on. In Friday's practice during Team Run, Magee had several reps where he was able to beat the center, guard combo blocks to make the tackle on the back before he was able to take it up the field on the zone cut. Magee has done a nice job of picking up his responsibilities scheme wise. During the Saturday walk through, linebackers coach Ben Bloom was quizzing him on check calls and different alignments in which after each answer, Bloom said "Nice job". On Sunday, there will be a portion of the Blue-White Scrimmage where the young guys will be allowed to play what Jason Garrett calls "Tackle Football", my early prediction is that Brad Sham, Mickey Spagnola and I will be calling his name quite a bit when these players get the opportunity to cut it loose on film.

Photos from Friday's afternoon practice >>

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