(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 stood out while I watched the Cowboy's second padded practice of training camp on Tuesday, Aug. 2.
Cedric Thornton, DT
Thornton was able to run with the first defense in place of Terrell McClain, who was dealing with some toe soreness. Thornton continues to impress me with his ability to play with power. In my days of scouting him with the Eagles, I always thought of him more as a player that had to play on the move in order to have success, but that's not what he has shown so far here. He has made it difficult for Travis Frederick, Zack Martin and La'el Collins to have to block him. Where Thornton has had success is that he doesn't allow these blockers to reset their hands on him. He is getting such a good push by keeping his pad level down that they are having a difficult time slowing him down, and that is creating gaps in the protection that has allowed his teammates to take advantage of the space.
Lucky Whitehead, WR
I thought it was a mixed bag of a practice for Whitehead this last time out. I am encouraged by the way that the coaches continue to work to get him the ball in space, whether it's through the "Fly Sweep" or just a straight reverse where the quarterback pitches him the ball. Any time you can get him the ball on the move, you have a chance for a productive play. What bothered me during practice was -- other than those created opportunities – there were back-to-back drops that he had during Blitz Period. If Whitehead is going to be used as a true receiver in this offense much like we have seen from Cole Beasley, he can't drop passes -- especially on a blitz. He needs to prove to these coaches that he is more than just a guy that runs gadget plays and can be counted on to be a consistent, reliable player.
Brandon Hepburn, LB
At 6-4, 248 pounds it's hard to miss Brandon Hepburn. He looks more like a defensive end than a linebacker. What stood out to me about his practice was his ability to cover some ground when working to the ball. On two separate occasions, Hepburn made plays when he was playing as an inside linebacker and closed in a hurry to track down the ball carry on the outside. During Run/Play Action Period, Darius Jackson took the ball going around left end and was just about to turn the corner when out of nowhere Hepburn arrived to meet him on the edge to knock him out of bounds. Later in the practice during Team Period, Hepburn worked left-to-right to beat the cut-off block of Chaz Green to once again tackle Darius Jackson in the backfield for a negative play. It's those types of plays that get you notice by the scouts and coaches, which helps your chances of making the roster.