(Editor's Note: 90 players are striving for a roster spot over the next month. In an effort to keep up with all of them, Bryan Broaddus is going to write a report on three different players after every practice. From the team's most prominent players to its no-name camp bodies, this is a place to read about what's going on across the Cowboys' roster.)
OXNARD, Calif. – Time to check in with three new faces following the Cowboys' afternoon practice on Saturday, Aug. 7.
Chaz Green OT
With the veteran day off for Doug Free, Green took the snaps at right tackle. Like the previous day, when he lined up at left tackle, he had some solid moments -- but some poor ones, as well. He gives you hope because he does flash the technique and ability you like to see from your tackles, but it's just not consistent enough. It's hard for him to put back-to-back snaps together where he is doing everything right. In the running game -- especially when at the point of attack -- there are problems with his head placement and his ability to drive through the defender. Green tends to catch his man more than he can over power anyone. When he plays this way, it allows the defender to get off the hook and work back into the play. This goes for the passing game, as well. He tends to do better when rushers play down the middle on him. Movement tends to give him problems. If Chaz Green is going to be this club's swing tackle, he's going to need to learn how to finish better.
Keith Smith FB
Smith is in a competition with Rod Smith for a spot on this roster as the fullback. Through this first week of practice, Rod Smith has been getting more of the work at the position, while Keith Smith has just been filling in at various points in practice -- running inside drills, helping the offensive and defensive lines and that sort of thing. With injuries to the running backs, Rod Smith has been getting more work there and Keith Smith has still been waiting for his chance. But on Saturday he was called out by Jason Garrett for the Compete Period. Smith was matched against Mark Nezocha. If you go back and take a look at our Training Camp Live video, Smith won the matchup with a beautiful route up the field and finished with a catch going away. If Keith Smith is going to make this squad, it will come through more plays like that -- as well as his ability to make plays on special teams.
Derek Akunne LB
There are a couple of different positions where this squad is thin -- defensive line and linebackers are chief among them. When the starting defense took the field on Saturday we saw the familiar faces of Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens at linebacker. But joining them in the base defense was Derek Akunne. There was no question that this was a great opportunity for Akunne – who, while working with the second and third groups, flashed during his time on the field. He is not the most physically gifted linebacker at 5-11, 230 pounds. But to his credit, he didn't appear confused or out of place when the ball was snapped. What I have noticed about him is that he is always working toward the ball -- he has a nose for it. He also plays with a burst. There is some nice short-area quickness to his game for a player that doesn't have much length to him. He can really close some ground when he sees the play. During the full-team period, Rod Marinelli brought him on a blitz from the outside and he was able to beat the block with quickness to create some pressure on Dak Prescott and force him to hurry his throw. It had to be a pressure situation for Derek Akunne to step into that role working with the first defense but overall I thought he handled it very well.