Mid-Day Report: Shuffling Up On The Defensive Line

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OXNARD, Calif.– The Cowboys are now a few days through training camp, as they prepare for their Wednesday late afternoon practice following a morning walkthrough and head coach Jason Garrett's press conference.

Here are some notes on the conference and what's occurred already on Wednesday:

  • Garrett confirmed the Cowboys will be bringing in a couple players on the defensive line for depth with Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff both nursing injuries. Those players will likely be George Selvie and Landon Cohen. "We're going to try to address that with some guys we think have a shot to compete for us in some way for us."
  • Ratliff is still rehabbing his hamstring, which he hurt during the conditioning test. Garrett doesn't anticipate him being back for at least a week or two weeks.
  • In fact, none of the injured guys are expected back at practice later in the day. Garrett said they're all working their way back and are hoping to get some players back Friday.
  • Matt Johnson doesn't apply there, as he only missed a small portion of practice Tuesday with cramps. Garrett said the safety just needs to be able to play more after a plethora of injuries kept him out last year, because his instincts are there. He's a player the team may have to dial back occasionally to keep healthy.

"He has had a history of some hamstring issues. We didn't think it was that (yesterday). There are some guys on your team…who sometimes you have to protect them from themselves…Matt's one of those guys. We've got to make sure he's healthy and fresh and rolling. He's had a good first few days of training camp."

  • Ben Bass was playing primarily defensive tackle, but he joined the first-team during the walkthrough at defensive end across the line from DeMarcus Ware. Garrett said he wants to give other guys, in addition to Kyle Wilber, a chance after Spencer's injury. "Spence isn't here, and Bass has done a really good job for us. He's an instinctive player. He has a little bit of a knack for making plays."
  • Rod Marinelli said after the walkthrough that he wouldn't have moved Bass out to end if it weren't for other injuries throughout the line. Bass has come a long way already from where he was at on the practice squad last year, getting stronger in the offseason to be able to participate down after down.

"That's an important value that we have in our organization, that it really doesn't matter where you come from," Garrett said. "Look at these guys, give them an opportunity to let them show you what they can do and then try to make your best decision. He's just one of those guys. We were really, really impressed with him."

  • Garrett said the transition for Wilber wasn't necessarily to slow from linebacker to defensive end, but he needs to get stronger. Garrett expects with more experience that'll happen.
  • In addition to Bass, Garrett said Jason Hatcher is a player capable of moving around to different positions on the line. He's been playing strictly defensive tackle thus far, but that could change as camp goes on.
  • There's a difference between the right defensive end and the left defensive end in the new defense. "The defensive right guy is really the elite pass rusher. If you think about most teams in the NFL, and this is a huge generalization, are right-handed teams."
  • Monte Kiffin's passion had an effect on Garrett, who said the defensive coordinator "blew them away" during the coaches clinic the Cowboys were involved in before leaving for camp.
  • Garrett has to balance the good and the bad after J.J. Wilcox shows his aggression. The rookie laid a noticeable hit on teammate Phillip Tanner during the first full-pads practice. "Don't do that, but keep doing that," Garrett said.
  • Bryant could become a team captain, but the decision will be up to the players. "It's premature. We'll vote on that at the end of the preseason." Garrett said captain or not, it doesn't stop people from being leaders.
  • Garrett said new special teams coach Rich Bisaccia influences more than his own group during special teams drills. "I was with him in 2004 and I was on a practice field for about 10 minutes and I said wow who is that, that's how you coach ball. He had such an impact on that football team."

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  • Garrett didn't see anything wrong during the 1-on-1 drills with the coverage Morris Claiborne had against Dez Bryant. "Dez has those traits to be able to understand where that defender is, see the ball and just react to it and go get it. It's a great battle. We'll do 1-on-1s really each and every day in some form or fashion."
  • Rookie free agent Eric Rogers is learning quickly and has shown early he can go get the football, which has caught Garrett's eye.
  • If a player jumps offsides or there's a pre-snap penalty, Garrett will continue taking that group out and going to the next. Ones will shift out for the twos and the twos to threes for accountability.
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