OXNARD, Calif. – The off day on Monday left me without a lot to write about. So, given the chance to watch another full practice on Tuesday, I got a little excited with my observations.
Rather than subject you to one, 1,300-word breakdown of practice, I decided to split it into two pieces – one set of notes about the Cowboys' offense, and another about the defense.
Below are my offensive notes. You can read my defensive notes here.
- I have had my share of questions early in this camp about the ability of Joseph Randle to finish on the blitz pickup. On Tuesday during the play action and run period, there was a play where he came across the pocket and was able to take care of Anthony Hitchens on the blitz. What was unique about the play was that Randle was not in good initial position at the snap to make the block, but his vision and athletic ability brought him in position to take care of Hitchens as he attacked the pocket.
- I didn't come away with a great feeling about how Dustin Vaughan threw the ball on Tuesday. I am not sure if he was pressing, but in his turn during the two-minute drill it appeared that he was. There was a throw or two in the one-on one drills against the linebackers and safeties where I thought he was better -- but that's without a rush. He never looked even remotely comfortable, nor was he able to make that throw to get the drive going. His only completion was to Nick Harwell on the slant and that was a pass that Harwell had to go low to the ground and grab. In his other attempts, he threw a low ball to Antwan Goodley, who was unable to come up with and then threw a second ball to Goodley that was knocked away by Andrew Gachkar at the line of scrimmage. I am still looking for that practice where Dustin Vaughan is able just to put everything together and make it all work, but to this point that has been difficult.
- There were two nice catches on "In" routes by Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams in the practice on Tuesday. Bryant was able to secure the ball while being contested by Morris Claiborne, and Williams ran the perfect route across the field in order to grab a pass from Tony Romo while there was pressure in the pocket. Williams was forced to almost lay his body flat on the ground while managing to get his hands under the ball off the top of the grass.
- Mackenzy Bernadeau continues to perform well, whether he has had to line up at center or guard. There were several snaps during the one-on-one pass rush drills where his technique and power were outstanding. When Bernadeau gets in trouble, his legs tend to get straight and he has trouble adjusting to the rusher, but that wasn't the case at all in this practice. His knee bend, footwork and power were all in order and the results were right where they needed to be.
- In our Training Camp Live video from Tuesday, you might have noticed newly signed tight end, Brandon Barden, fresh off his morning workout and into the mix. Barden is a tad stiff up the field in the way that he moves, but his hands appeared steady and reliable. His length is impressive and he was able to use it to make a nice adjusting catch in the one-on-one period against the safeties. Barden has the size and frame to be an effective in-line blocker and we should see more of that was he continues to gasp this playbook.