The first mini camp practice after the draft is not only a nervous time for the players but for the front office, coaches and scouts as well. As a scout I use to hold my breath during these mini camps for a couple of reasons. You never wanted to lose a player to injury like in Green Bay when our first round selection Aaron Taylor suffered a knee injury in the first ten minutes of practice and was lost for the season. You also held your breath because there are players now on the field that you stuck your neck out for during the draft meetings and the team drafted them. To a scout, there is nothing worse than fighting for a player and then you find out he can't play. When these players make plays in practice even in T shirts and shorts, there is a sense of pride and hope that maybe those thoughts you had were accurate.
Today was a rough day for many of these players, in the sense that not only were they in a new setting but it was now about trying to earn a living. The pressure on these players is really intense. Many have gone from being big fish in a little pond, to little fish in a real big pond. There is nothing easy about the tempo of a Jason Garrett practice and factor in the heat of the day, it really raised the stress level of these players.
Here are some of my thoughts from Day 1:
· Really liked the movement that cornerbacks Mario Butler and Isaac Madison showed. Was really impressed with how they were able to play with quickness and position in the routes. There was not much separation from receivers or windows for the quarterbacks to throw in.
· Linebacker Kyle Wilber as the Sam linebacker had two good practices. He was impressive in the way that he played in coverage, carrying running back Darrell Scott up the field deflecting the ball that Lionel Smith intercepted. He also showed his ability to run from the backside to make a play on the ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage.
· Wide Receiver Danny Coale can run all day, along with Cole Beasley from SMU. At the end of the 2nd practice, they were taking the majority of the reps because the other receivers were struggling with the heat. Coale had some nice batlles today and didn't look out of place one bit. When you studied him at Virginia Tech, he ran just a handful of routes but in the NFL, he will be asked to do more and he should be able to.
· Tight End James Hanna is an athlete no doubt but if you are going to be used as an athlete and an up the field player, you better become more consistent catching the ball. Like at Oklahoma you did see him snatch the ball but drop others. He can get open, he just needs to do a better job of finishing plays.
· Aston Whiteside and Adrian Hamilton were college defensive ends that are trying to make the switch to linebackers in this 3-4 defense. I thought Whiteside was going to play on the outside but it looks like he will line up inside for now. Like the way that he was able to drop in coverage and read the quarterback and get in position to make a play. He looked pretty natural. Hamilton showed the ability to not only drop to deflect a ball but was able to get around the corner on Tackle Jeff Adams with ease.
· Defensive End Tyrone Crawford wore down at the end of the 2nd practice but he is a hard going player, all the time. You see him play with technique on film in college, well he does it in the NFL as well. Playing the right end, he was able to control with his hands, then use a rip move to free himself for some up the field pressure. He is going to need to be this type of player.
· Guard Ronald Leary might have a bad knee but at right guard, he showed some push in the running game off the snap. He also showed some punch when he helped the center when he was uncovered in pass protection. Leary plays with some power in his upper body which you also saw on his college tape.
· My final thought for the day is when your quarterbacks struggle in practice with their accuracy, the offense is going to struggle or not look like it is functioning well. There were some cases where that was the problem today. Maybe Saturday will be better for them.