OXNARD, Calif. – As training camp wears on, the Cowboys' coaches are looking for the rookies to establish their identity in practice and games.
Xavier Woods is doing just that.
The sixth-round pick out of Louisiana Tech "was all over the tape" in last Saturday's preseason game against the L.A. Rams, head coach Jason Garrett said. Woods registered a game-high seven tackles, including three stops on third down to force a Rams punt or field goal attempt.
Most notably, he laid a big hit on Rams tight end Temarrick Hemingway and knocked the ball loose on the final defensive drive of the third quarter. Official review ruled the play an incomplete pass, not a forced fumble, but Garrett liked the rookie's approach.
"He's one of those players that when he put the pads on, he became a different player," Garrett said. "We saw that. He was finding his way a little bit in the spring, learning what we're asking him to do. But ever since we've been out here and we've put the full gear on and practicing and playing in these games, you really see a more aggressive, physical player."
Versatile, too. With several cornerbacks hurting in camp, Woods played some nickel corner against the Rams in addition to his safety duties.[embeddedad0]
"It's definitely faster than college," Woods said of his transition. "But at the end of the day it's just football. If you know what you're doing and you know how to do it, you can do it.
"I came from a small school, but when I played against a bigger team, bigger guys under the lights . . . that's when I come to play ball."