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Sat. Practice Recap: D-Line Shows Up In Goal Line Drills

Posted Aug 2, 2014

OXNARD, Calif. – After a couple weeks of praising the offense, particularly the offensive line, it was the defense that showed up in close quarters during Saturday’s practice.

With the Cowboys practicing live situation goal line drills, the defense stuffed the offense four out of six times.

“We do that in Chicago where you go live for a few plays, just getting ready for the game, pretty much, getting your feet underneath you, trying to tackle and stay low,” said Henry Melton. “It was good. It was real physical. It was just competition.”

Quarterback Tony Romo and running back DeMarco Murray both got a break for the drill, leaving the backups at those two positions to get the reps. Brandon Weeden’s handoff to Joseph Randle led to a touchdown on the first play of the drill. 

Play-caller Scott Linehan said the time that Weeden gets as the new No. 2 in Dallas is valuable, even if was during goal-line drills.

“At quarterback, it’s a little different – all I’ve got to do is open the right way and make sure the ball is in my hand and the running back’s hand,” Weeden said. “But yeah, it’s always fun. The competitive stuff like that, when the ball is on the 1-yard line, that’s what football is all about. You may not get very many snaps like that during the year, but when you do, you’ve got to get in and you’ve got to score. You’ve got to be able to punch it in.”

On plays where the ball’s pounded through the middle on the ground, the real value is for the backs. When it’s only backup ball-carriers in the game, every rep matters.  

“We know DeMarco can get a yard,” Linehan said. “I think the whole thing is to see and give these younger players some reps to get in the position to see how they respond. That’s not uncommon to do that.”

Fullback Tyler Clutts also scored on a play action pass, but the defense held the offense out the rest of the time.

Quick Hits:

  • Head coach Jason Garrett, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and others shared their admiration for the players they coached and played with entering the Hall of Fame, including Michael Strahan and Derrick Brooks.

Marinelli on Brooks: “Speed, right off the bat, explosiveness, great awareness, great team player – he was a great captain. I mean he was a great captain. In big games, he got big – that’s the best compliment I can give those guys: in big games, he got big and he played big. He was special. You talk about a relentless motor. He was constantly screaming for the football – relentless. And a positive influence on everybody in the building. He’s a world champion, that’s what he is.”

Garrett on Strahan: “When I went to New York, ‘Stra’ was fantastic. He embraced me. We spent a lot of time together, obviously at the facility, but then away from the facility, and he’s got this amazing way about him. He’s got an infectious personality. He’s very welcoming. When he walks into a room, he lights it up. I really, really appreciate our friendship and the time we spent together. He made my time in New York significantly better.”

  • Dwayne Harris was back on the field Saturday after spraining his ankle in a drill Thursday. Tony Romo did not practice.
  • Linebacker DeVonte Holloman got some work with the first team in place of Bruce Carter at weak side linebacker. The Cowboys could just be checking out different combinations, and Holloman said it’s too early to read into any switches.

“A little premature,” Holloman said. “I think we’re just trying out different combinations at linebacker. The unique thing about this group of linebackers is that everybody is good at a lot of different things. They’re just trying to put the best group together.”

    • B.W. Webb didn’t enjoy a particularly memorable effort during the two-minute drill that ended Saturday’s practice. The Cowboys’ offense stormed downfield, with most of its yardage coming off Webb’s man. Dez Bryant wound up uncovered on the far side of the field for a big gain, and on the next play Terrance Williams shook free of Webb for another first down. The frustration culminated when Terrance Williams beat Webb in the back corner of the end zone for a score – though Jason Garrett ruled the catch out of bounds. The offense wound up settling for a field goal.
  • There appears to be a bit of a budding rivalry between Dez Bryant and Terrance Mitchell. Bryant had some choice words for the rookie earlier this week when Dwayne Harris injured his ankle in a particularly physical rep against Mitchell. On Saturday, Bryant beat Mitchell easily on a slant in one-on-one drills and had more words for the youngster.
  • Former Cowboys great Charles Haley addressed the team at the end of practice.

Notable Standouts:

  • Terrance Williams – The two-minute period was where Williams shined. He had a big grab to move the sticks and got out of bounds, and that was followed by a touchdown in the back corner of the end zone. It was debatable whether he was in or out, but either way he was getting open and making smart plays. 
  • Dez Bryant – He abuses corners pretty much every day. Sometimes it goes unmentioned because everyone gets so used to it, but it was on display once again Saturday. Mitchell had another good day in 1-on-1’s, but Bryant gave him trouble across the middle and deep on a streak pass.
  • Tyler PatmonThe star of the offseason, the undrafted corner showed up Saturday by picking off a pass from Caleb Hanie during team drills and taking it back for a score.

Play of the Day:
The starting offensive line had been winning most of the battles against the starting defensive line, particularly during one-on-one drills. After the Randle touchdown in goal-line drills, it looked like more of the same. But a strong push through the middle on the next hand-off led to a stop by the defense. It was one of the first times this camp the defense and defensive line clearly won.

Transactions:

August 2 –  The Dallas Cowboys waived/injured guard Darius Morris (Temple) and waived wide receiver L'Damian Washington (Missouri) on Saturday. The club signed defensive ends Kenneth Boatright (Southern Illinois) and Adewale Ojomo (Miami).

Injury Report:

Left Practice:
CB Dashaun Phillips (knee)

Returned to Practice:
WR Dwayne Harris (ankle)

Missed Practice: 
CB Sterling Moore (groin)

OG Brian Clarke (groin)

CB Morris Claiborne (knee) 

DE DeMarcus Lawrence (ankle)
DE Anthony Spencer (knee) 
DT Amobi Okoye (illness)
CB Brandon Carr (personal matter)
DE Ben Gardner (shoulder)
DT Terrell McClain (ankle)
LB Will Smith (groin

Upcoming Schedule: 

Sunday, August 3

2:30 p.m. (PT)                       Blue/White Scrimmage

TBD                                         Coach Garrett’s press conference will be held approximately 30 minutes following the conclusion of the Blue/White Scrimmage

Monday, August 4

10:30 a.m. (PT)                    Walk-Thru

12:00 p.m. (PT)                    Coach Garrett Press Conference

5:15 p.m. (PT)                       Practice

Tuesday, August 5

10:30 a.m. (PT)                    Walk-Thru

12:00 p.m. (PT)                    Coach Garrett Press Conference

3:45 p.m. (PT)                       Practice

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