OXNARD, Calif. – There's no practice today, as the Cowboys enjoy their first day off in training camp. There is, however, plenty to discuss from Sunday's afternoon session – not just the fight, but plenty of other tidbits.
Here are my top 12 thoughts from Sunday's practice:
1) It was a day where Jason Garrett spoke about his team's willingness to fight and it finished with his star player backing those words up. It was the second straight practice where Tyler Patmon was very physical in the way he attacked these receivers. In the first snap of the team compete period, Patmon got his hands up into Dez Bryant's face as he started into his route. You could tell by the way that Bryant reacted that something was going to happen. Two plays later, it did -- Patmon again got his hands high and Bryant already upset from the previous snap was not going to take any more of that.
2) I am starting to enjoy the Greg Hardy battles with Zack Martin as much as I am the ones with Tyron Smith. There are now snaps where we see them together in one-on-one as well as the blitz period, which presents a unique challenge for the young guard. What is evident when you watch these matchups is that Martin realizes that he must get to Hardy quickly before he has time to make his rush. The longer you wait on Hardy, the more dangerous he is.
3) It was a better day for Cole Beasley releasing off the line in the one-on-one drills and that carried over into the team periods. If you watched our Training Camp Live segment from Saturday, you would have seen Beasley struggling with the corners that were playing him off the line. Where Beasley is at his best is in his ability to operate in space and work into his routes. He was able to create more of that on Sunday.
4) In an interesting move, the coaching staff has rookie quarterback Jameill Showers lining up at some key spots on special teams. Showers was getting work as the personal protector on the punt team, L2 on the kick off team and off return man as a blocker on the kickoff return. To his credit he has looked comfortable at all the spots.
5) Coaches had to be pleased with the way that Brandon Carr was able to play the ball in the blitz period, coming away with an interception. Carr was very physical off the line, denying Terrance Williams the path inside -- which made the throw from Romo a contested play. Carr was in outstanding position to make the play and rip the ball away from Williams for the turnover.
6) It appears that every time I watch Devin Street run a route, he is fighting to get separation and more often than not it's just not happening. You can see that he is working extremely hard with his technique, but he just hasn't been able to find that space that he needs to operate.
7) Saw some nice blitz pickup up combo work from La'el Collins and Mackenzy Bernadeau. This is where rookies usually struggle the most, but you can tell Bernadeau has the confidence that Collins is up to the task. There were several snaps where, as a group, they had to sort out linebackers, defensive linemen and even some rushers from the secondary all while pulling it off nicely.
8) Starting to have some concerns about J.J. Wilcox and his ability to cover without holding his man. There have been several snaps where Wilcox is battling his man down the field and you notice him grabbing cloth in an attempt to position himself in coverage. If it continues to be a problem, there are other options with guys like Corey White and Byron Jones to play in coverage situations.
9) Don't know if Tony Romo checked to this play at the line during team period, but facing a double "A" gap blitz, he popped a screen pass to Lance Dunbar off the right side. At the snap it appeared that Romo was going to get sacked, but Dunbar was able to float through the oncoming rushers as the line set up their blocks. The ball was in a perfect spot and the result was a sizable gain. Perfect call and execution for the situation.
10) It's been back-to-back practices where Davon Coleman has shown up. Before camp I questioned his desire to be the type of player I observed in college and portions of last season, but it appears that the light has come on. Coleman has been powerful and difficult to handle -- against both the run and pass. There has been more praise in his play from Rod Marinelli, and in talking to some scouts, they have noticed a change as well.
11) Geoff Swaim has been getting work in the team periods, but where I have noticed him the most is in the one-on-one work against the linebackers and safeties. There is a smoothness to his game as a route runner and with his ability to cover ground. He made a nice adjusting catch against J.J. Wilcox where he was able to separate – then he came back once again, this time separating from Tim Scott to grab a ball.
12) Rod Marinelli played some dime on Sunday with Byron Jones lining up over Jason Witten. This is a package that you are looking to be used more giving the size of Jones and his ability to be physical and cover. It's a nice way to match those teams that have tight ends that are pass catchers like New England and Seattle. Jones looks comfortable in playing this role.