(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. -- Three players who caught my eye during the Cowboys' first padded practice on Monday, Aug. 1.
Cole Beasley, WR
Beasley is seeing the majority of his action out of the slot in these practices. He is working with a group that includes Lucky Whitehead and Ed Eagan. There were snaps last season where the coaches were playing him on the outside, but for now that hasn't been the case. Nobody benefits more from having Tony Romo practicing than Beasley. Romo does a really nice job of understanding where Beasley is going to be on the underneath routes, and he is able to throw him open and away from the defender. They did have one misstep where Beasley stopped inside and Romo delivered the ball to the outside – which resulted in an interception. But other than that, Beasley continues to play with his trademark quickness along with that ability to finish. To stop Beasley you have to get right up on him and attempt to knock him around to throw him off track. Without Orlando Scandrick playing in the slot during the 1-on-1 portion of practice, it was clear that no one had an answer for him.
Anthony Brown, CB
The rookie corner got off to a nice start during the first competitive drills of training camp. Coaches showed confidence in the young man by playing him both outside in coverage as well as the slot. During both the 1-on-1 period and group work, he was physical when dealing with the routes from both spots. Brown initially started out a little bit "grabby" with his technique, which would have likely caused him problems with the officials. But as the drills wore on he did a better job of trusting his technique and playing more with it. I have to also give Brown credit for his positioning during Monday's practice. There were two times where the ball ended up in his hands just for being in the right spot. One of the biggest problems for young players is knowing where to be in coverage, and watching Brown in this practice, it appears that he is paying attention in the classroom as well.
Rico Gathers, TE
It must have been an unusual experience for Rico Gathers to put on a football uniform for the first time in a long while for that Monday practice. The first thing you notice about Gathers is his size. He is built more like an offensive tackle or a 3-4 defensive end -- he's physically that impressive. Where it appears that Gathers has had the majority of his struggles, with or without pads, has been his overall movement up the field. He just doesn't appear natural when he's running. There is that tightness, which doesn't allow him to get in and out of his routes with any pace. It's like he is fighting himself to get up the field. Until he loosens up, he is going to have problems there. He also needs to be a tick quicker coming off the ball and getting into his blocks. You can see that he is late compared to his teammates. If there was a positive to his game, it was how physical he was willing to play in order to receive the ball. Gathers was not afraid to lower his shoulder into the defender in order to create some space. Several of the safeties had a difficult time dealing with his size when trying to carry him up the field once he got going.