FRISCO, Texas – Between adding new players and putting together a game plan for the Giants, the Cowboys have been up to plenty in the days since they settled in for the regular season.
Here's a handful of notes on what I've seen and noticed this week – starting with some of the additions made to this team's practice squad.
- I like what this front office has done with adding Zach Moore and Chris McCain to the practice squad as defensive ends. Moore has a little more thickness to him physically, but both are very quick. Just from watching Moore play with the Vikings, he was primarily on the left side. McCain played both sides for the Dolphins but is better suited to play on the right. In Moore, you have a player that shows some upper body power, and it helps him extend on the blocker to control. He can rip through with some power. He's good with his hands in order to free himself, and he can sharpen the corner when he grabs the edge. He will redirect to get to the ball. Wrap up-tackler once in position. McCain is the lighter of the two. He has a limited hitting surface for the blocker to deal with, and he is very quick off the snap. Works down inside well and has an effective spin move to get the blocker off balance. He can cover some ground when in space. Good finisher – ball carrier didn't break away from him. He will come back to the ball when getting up field. Lack of bulk hurts him in the running game when he has to play toe-to-toe – needs to be on the edge or move to handle that where Moore is better at the point.
- You want a key backup for the game on Sunday? Anthony Brown will dress and be ready if something were to happen to Orlando Scandrick. As much "11" personnel as the Giants play, I expect the defense to be in nickel for the majority of the game. Scandrick has been practicing and wasn't listed on the initial injury report. But it will be interesting to see if he will be in game shape and ready to go, because he had been on and off the practice field during training camp. Through his play, Brown has given the coaching staff confidence that he could handle the job if called on.
- If Kyle Wilber sees the majority of his snaps at defensive end, then Andrew Gachkar just may get the start at SAM when the defense goes to base. I wasn't sure of how quickly Gachkar was going to be able to come back from his thumb injury, but now that he's back practicing it makes the most sense. If Gachkar wasn't able to go, I was thinking it was going to be Justin Durant to get the nod, but I'm not sure I feel good about his limited workload during the preseason. Durant has always been a fast starter, but at this time he doesn't appear to be the same player that he was two seasons ago with his play making ability and instincts.
- Coaches hate change, and for that reason J.J. Wilcox will dress and play a role in the defensive scheme against the Giants. During training camp, I remember some practices where they were working on a dime package and Wilcox was on the field with Barry Church and Byron Jones. The Giants will throw multiple receivers on the field, which means the defense will need as many bodies as possible that can cover. By using Wilcox at safety, it puts Jones in play to walk down and cover in the slot. Wilcox will play over rookie Kavon Frazier in this game just due to his experience in the league.
- Alfred Morris has done everything these coaches have asked of him and a little more. He has improved as a pass catcher and blocker, which were two areas that were not strengths of his before he arrived. Ezeikel Elliott will be the starter against the Giants and will not come off the field unless he needs a rest. Morris is the primary backup to Elliott, but there is a side of me that is wondering if he will see more offensive snaps than Lance Dunbar. We all saw what Scott Linehan did with a healthy Dunbar in this scheme last season. Dunbar is more explosive than Morris -- especially when it comes to running those plays out of the shotgun with Dak Prescott at quarterback. If Elliott needs a rest, I would not be surprised if he put Dunbar on the field to give him a break.