OXNARD, Calif. – Even in Monday's non-contact walkthrough, there was plenty to start learning about the Cowboys at training camp. Here are nine observations as camp gets underway:
- There is nothing better than to watch Sean Lee communicate with his defensive teammates. Pre-snap, he was verbally identifying each offensive set while Dak Prescott and Travis Frederick were trying to counter his adjustments. For a walkthrough practice, there was some serious back and forth between all involved in order to get their guys in position to execute the play. It had a regular-season game feel to it.
- I observed DeMarcus Lawrence, Benson Mayowa, Taco Charlton, Damontre Moore and Charles Tapper all take snaps at right defensive end in the walkthrough.
- Really do like the quickness of Stephen Paea off the snap. This is the first opportunity we've had to see him live on the practice field. Paea is currently playing behind Cedric Thornton at the nose tackle.
- James Hanna was running second tight end behind Jason Witten with Geoff Swaim backing them both up. Hanna missed the entire 2016 season with a knee injury. His movement was smooth and without any bit of labor. Having Hanna back in the lineup will make this club even better running the ball off the edge.
- Speaking of looking smooth, Jaylon Smith did a nice job in his morning work. I finally saw a bit of a burst that I was looking for. There was a snap where he had a carry a tight end in coverage and did so without issue. He also was able to close the hole on an edge run with some range.
- Always funny to see a fullback get work because they are rarely used in this day and age, but not with this team. Keith Smith was able to prove his worth last season after making the transition from linebacker. Smith is not a stiff when it comes to a lead blocker. He has some pop to him and is not afraid to dig linebackers out of the hole. Hard-nosed player in every sense of the word.
- With Jaylon Smith backing up Anthony Hitchens at MIKE, it appears that Mark Nzeocha is getting some work behind Damien Wilson at SAM. I also noticed that Kyle Wilber was getting work behind Sean Lee at the WILL. Newly-signed Justin Durant can play all three spots but he will need a few practices to get his elbow right and get into some football condition.
- With rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis missing practice to handle his court case in Michigan, Leon McFadden is playing in his position ahead of rookie Marquez White.
Liked what I saw from first-round pick Taco Charlton during drills. Quicker movements and hands. He struggled with that in the OTAs and minicamp practices. Hopefully that will translate to better pass ru