SAN DIEGO –Goodbye Oxnard, see you next year. With the regular season fast approaching, now less than three weeks away, the Cowboys are narrowing their focus.
The mission remains to get better before the Sept. 5 opener, but most of the installations and a lot of the heavy lifting has already been done. The foundation for this year's team has been set. Here, DallasCowboys.com football analyst Bryan Broaddus breaks down the highs and lows of camp.
Bryan:Dez Bryant. It all started for him in OTAs and minicamp. He came into training camp with a purpose and a much better understanding of what he needed to do to carry his game to that next level. His route running improved, as did his understanding of his responsibilities in the offense. It showed every day on the practice field.
Better Than I Thought
Bryan:Barry Church. I knew that he was a physical player, but now he plays with awareness and athletic ability. I do not see a player that struggles to turn and run in coverage, but instead I see a guy that is rarely out of position and is assignment sound. In this camp, Church is one of those players that, when you study him on tape, is not hard to find. You see him a lot.
Bryan:This offseason, I gave receiver Dwayne Harris no real shot to make this team based on what I observed last year. Harris, like Bryant, remade his body, dropping weight off his frame, and is now much quicker in and out of his breaks. He is a solid route runner that has been fearless in the way he goes about his business. He has shown sideline awareness and has been impressive with the ball in his hands. I know he had a holding penalty in the Oakland game the other night, but I have been impressed with his ability to get after his man to sustain his block.* *
Bryan:There are some days when I feel Andre Holmes has inched ahead in his quest to be the third receiver with a catch or two in practice, then I watch Orlando Scandrick beat him up in press coverage, not allowing him off the line. I like Holmes because I feel he is finally realizing how to use his height to his advantage, extending for balls. There were too many times when he allowed the defensive backs to knock passes away that he should have had. I do like that he is also catching more passes in traffic. This is something an outside receiver has to do to be successful. The unsure part comes with his inability to do it down after down. * *
Area Of Concern
Bryan:No question, the offensive line and the fact that in the offseason, the front office had a plan to switch tackles and bring in two new guards, but this group has yet to take a snap together in practice. That should be a huge area of concern.
The Play Of Camp
Bryan:My favorite play of training camp, and only a scout can appreciate this, was the one in the Blue-White Scrimmage when DeMarco Murray was matched up against Sean Lee in pass coverage and Murray faked like he was blocking off the wing, freezing Lee, who had him in man coverage. When Lee stopped, Murray took off up the field and you could see Lee's eyes get big as Murray went by him. Lee was able to catch up, but Romo threw a perfect pass that Murray was able to jump up for, with Lee all over his body. It was a great route and outstanding coverage, but an even better finish. The battles between Murray and Lee in this camp were fun to watch.