Ellis: Hard To Gauge Smith Against Spencer

One of the bright spots of Sunday's scrimmage was the chance to evaluate first-round tackle Tyron Smith in more of a game-like environment, and he held up well for the most part.

However, as is always the case when a team is practicing against itself, the success of one side of the ball has to come at the expense of the other. So it's difficult to say whether the Cowboys should be excited about the way Smith performed, or disappointed that Anthony Spencer, who he lined up across from most plays, wasn't able to do more against a rookie with just 10 NFL practices under his belt.

Was this a really good player Smith was facing, a pretty good one, or just an average one?

In pass-rush situations, Spencer was never in the face of Tony Romo, and on one of the few running plays called with the first unit on the field, Smith drive him off the ball. 

Some within the organization believe Spencer's motor isn't always high enough to be an impact player consistently. That would explain why he was dominant at the end of 2009 but seemed to simply tread water last year.

Spencer appears to have a lot of untapped potential, even now that he's going into his fifth year.

"He's a guy who can be a very good pass-rusher, he can be a very good run defender," Jason Garrett said. "Hopefully in this new scheme you'll see him in a couple different spots, being effective in both areas."

This is a contract year for Spencer, so maybe he'll have more motivation than the chest-pounding Rob Ryan is trying to inspire in his players.

"He's had a really good start to training camp," Garrett said. "He's come to work every day, and we're hopefuly that once the games start we'll see the guy who's been as productive as he's been throughout his career."

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