Some more thoughts from my Scouting Notebook:
- There is truly a physical difference in how Tyrone Crawford has approached this season. He has added solid weight to his frame without losing the quickness that he showed during the 2012 season. I remember in training camp than defensive line coach Brian Baker really grinding on him about developing his technique. Crawford seemed to pick up on things very quickly and was given more and more opportunities to play in special packages for Rob Ryan and he made the best of them. When the scheme changed with the coaching staff, I was trying to figure out where Crawford might be the best fit and strong side defensive end seemed to be a logical spot or maybe even as a one technique. The one thing that I have learned over the years when I was a scout and these coaches were in Tampa that their defensive linemen were always attacking up the field from both the defensive tackle and end spots so Crawford was a natural fit because this was the style of defense that he played at Boise. Where Crawford has made a great deal of progress is in his upper body strength. You can see power when he rushes off the left end and when he extends his arm into the tackle and he is able to control the blocker while he is going up field getting the corner. There were also times where he was used on the twist from the outside, coming inside and he spilt the block of Frederick and Leary. He has done a nice job of when the ball comes to his side against the zone block and held up well at the point. He is a stronger player than Wilber who was playing on the opposite side but those are two nice young backups to Ware and Spencer on the outside.
- Tyron Smith is now working into his second season as the starter at left tackle and as things were not always perfect in his first experience in that role, he managed to be the most consistent linemen they had. There have been a really nice battles these last two camps with Smith and Kyle Wilber. As a scout, I always enjoyed when two young players were battling to get the best of each
other. With no Ware in the lineup, Wilber has received plenty of good work and mainly it has come against Smith who might be a quiet personality off the field but there have been sometimes where he has jumped on Wilber so quickly that he spends the whole play trying to fighting off the block as the ball goes past him or Orton completes the pass. You can see Smith playing with more confidence in what he is doing technique wise. Things you see without pads like the depth of his set and the width to the outside make a huge difference. Where Smith was not his best at times last season was when rushers took an inside charge on him, now you see him slam the door with a power step to cut that off. This zone scheme in the running game is perfect for him because when he can get his mass going sideways, then forward, he can really set the edge because once he gets a hold of the defender, he can control and that will be the key.
- When the Cowboys signed Brandon Carr before last season, I remember studying his tape and thinking to myself what an outstanding press corner he was. He and Brent Grimes of the Falcons were my two favorite corners during that free agency period. When it comes to playing technique, reading the route and adjusting to the ball, Carr has a real feel for this. When the switch was made from the scheme that Rob Ryan used to the one he currently plays in, I felt like there was going to be a big adjustment in the way he plays. I am not saying that Carr can't play in off coverage but his strength has always been his ability to get his hands on the receiver and keep in position throughout the route, he is a master at this. While Carr has never been the quickest of foot say like Claiborne, Scandrick or Webb, he plays with [embedded_ad] smarts and technique and with a physical style that allows him to shut down the better receivers in the league. In this scheme, there are times where the corner will turn and bail in an attempt to funnel the receiver inside to the linebackers and safeties. What will happen to Carr is that a receiver will get a run on him developing separation and this is where the quickness comes into play. It's going to take some time getting used to playing this type of technique for all these corners on the squad but maybe an even bigger adjustment for Carr.