OXNARD, Calif. – Here are some more thoughts from the last full-padded practice.
Where Bruce Carter is beating Dan Connor right now is in his ability to play pass coverage, but also as a blitzer in different packages. During blitz period, Carter and Lee were the inside linebackers, and on the snap, Carter slants hard from his right to left and knocks Phil Costa on the ground as Lee shoots through the opening behind him for a pressure in Tony Romo's face. It was a perfect use of a pick to get Lee on the rush. Later in team period, Ryan lines Carter up as an outside linebacker opposite Ware. At the snap, Carter is able to get underneath Tyron Smith to create pressure from the backside.
The one advantage of all the reps in practice that guard Ronald Leary is getting with the first team is it's making him a more aware football player. During blitz period, Leary and Smith are faced with a twist stunt between Sean Lissemore and Tyrone Crawford. In earlier practices, Leary would have never been able to pass the stunt to Smith without problems, or even been able to adjust back to pick up the man driving inside. On this play, Leary not only passed Lissemore to Smith, he was in perfect position to pick up Crawford, allowing Romo a clean pocket to throw the ball.
How much is outstanding press coverage worth to this defense? During the team period, Brandon Carr is lined up over Tim Benford with Orlando Scandrick in the slot with Dwayne Harris. Both are tight to the receivers. Harris tries to run a route to the outside with Benford coming inside. Harris gets jammed so bad that he can't get to the point of making the cross. Benford gets stuffed by Carr and the two receivers run into each other, which gives the quarterback no one to throw the ball to, thus the play results in a sack. Better coverage leads to better pressure.
I haven't talked much about cornerback C.J. Wilson but Monday was his day to shine in the one-on-one drills against the receivers and later in the team period. Wilson is a veteran player that has ideal size, but yesterday was the first time that I really noticed him taking advantage of that size. In the press drills against Dez Bryant, I thought he did a solid job of showing patience when Bryant tried to throw several moves his way. Wilson just focused on staying in position, letting Dez move then adjust. The problem you have covering Bryant is his size and Wilson didn't let him use that against him. In the blitz period, Wilson carried Raymond Radway up the sideline keeping inside position the entire time, and when the ball went in the air, Wilson was able to get his hand inside of Radway's, knocking it away. Really nice finish to a good day for him.