OXNARD, Calif. – A few notes from my time spent watching Thursday afternoon's practice.
1) The concentration level was where it needed to be for Terrance Williams in this practice. After fighting the ball the previous practice, Williams was back on track with his opportunities to finish plays. Romo found him on three separate occasions. Williams managed to gain separation in the in the one-on-one drill and the 7-on-7 period versus Brandon Carr -- then later in the team versus Morris Claiborne. All of his routes were run well from an execution standpoint and finished with nice, secure-handed receptions.
2) Speaking of finish plays, nice job by Joseph Randle on the blitz pickup during team period working against Damien Wilson. It was the first time where I noticed Randle not struggling to complete a block. He was square with his knees bent and ready to strike when he engaged Wilson. On contact Randle was able to keep Wilson right along the line of scrimmage and hold his ground.
3) It was a big day for the tight ends while the offense was working in the red zone. There were touchdown receptions for Jason Witten, James Hanna and Gavin Escobar. Geoff Swaim also had a nice route and catch over the middle for a big gain. These tight ends continue to show their ability to work up the field and become a difficult cover for these linebackers and safeties.
4) The buzz in camp has been how impressive Tyrone Crawford has looked playing with power, but in all honesty, Jeremy Mincey has looked just as strong. When Mincey is the penetrator on these stunts he is getting some serious push on the offensive linemen. His pop is jumping off the screen at me to the point that I can feel it myself.
5) Don't get to talk about this much, but there have been some nice reps in these practices from Robert Steeples and Joel Ross. Both have been right there with their positioning and finish against these receivers and a large part has to deal with playing with much better technique and confidence.
6) Jack Crawford continues to get snaps at the under-tackle and he is making the most of his opportunities. He has always had a little power to his game with a few moves to free himself, and I am starting to see that more often. He has also worked well with his other defensive line teammates when used in the twist game. There are snaps where he is actually getting home on the rush.
7) Gus Johnson is catching my eye more than Lache Seastrunk at this point. There are one or two snaps a practice where I am no longer looking down at my roster and wondering who that running back is. Johnson is looking more complete in the snaps he has received -- whether that's carrying the ball, receiving out of the backfield or understanding where he needs to be in the blitz pickup. Johnson has not looked out of place at all.
8) I wish that Chaz Green was not injured to give a challenge to Darrion Weems at that swing tackle spot. Weems is going to win this job without a fight unless the front office tries to bring another tackle in at the final cut. As much as I like Weems' athletic ability and movement, I worry about his ability to just sit down and handle a rusher that can play with power. There are just too many snaps where he is struggling to get settled, and that is troubling.
9) I don't think that Orlando Scandrick is completely healthy in this camp. I give him credit for his toughness and how he approaches his job, but there is just something not right with him from a physical standpoint. He might be dealing with some soreness in his knee and that is affecting the way he is playing at times. I might be dead wrong, but he looks like he is fighting through some issue.
10) Corey White took more snaps at safety on Thursday while Byron Jones was back at his corner spot. These defensive coaches will continue to work both players in an effort to figure out where they need to be for the start of the season. Neither player appears to be struggling with the mental side of the game while having to go back and forth.
11) I would not worry about the weight gain or loss of Randy Gregory if he continues to rush the passer the way he has. Each day he appears to become more and more confident in his technique and what he has to do to succeed at the point. What I came away with from Thursday's one-on-one period was how much balance he plays with. His ability to spin, dip and redirect all while going up the field is impressive. He has become a good matchup for Tyron Smith each day.
12) There is nothing more enjoyable than the Jerry Jones post-practice press conference. If you haven't had a chance, make sure you check out his comments on DallasCowboys.com from Thursday's practice - some great insight from what the general manager has seen so far.