IRVING, Texas – Here are few items from my notebook I've been seeing from practices out here at Valley Ranch:
· I am interested how Jason Hatcher is going to play as the nose in this scheme once Jay Ratliff comes back into the mix because he has been outstanding in the role of the under tackle. Where Hatcher has really improved his game is in how he has taken to what Rod Marinelli and Leon Lett have taught him technique wise.
You see quickness up the field but you also see him working on moves to free himself from blockers. To me, Hatcher has shown that if something were to happen to Ratliff or he wasn't ready for the season that he could handle that under tackle without problem.
· I continue to be impressed in Travis Frederick's ability to play with awareness across the pocket. When Frederick has been uncovered, on pass plays, he has been outstanding of taking his set, putting either his left or right hand up as a takes a slide step but you notice about Frederick is that his eyes are always looking to the backside of the defense and who might be having trouble on that side.
There have been plenty of plays where he has helped secure a block on a defensive linemen, then worked off that man to clean up another area. For a rookie, he actually plays with a great deal of smarts and understanding of where he can help the most to keep the front of the pocket clean.
· I would have not said this four weeks ago but Jeff Heath as a real shot of making this football team. He might be limited in some of his skills but he makes up for it with smarts and toughness. He is more than just a body on special teams and each week he has been given more responsibility and he has responded in a positive manor. Heath is becoming one of those players that when you study the tape, he finds ways to show up.
· Several weeks ago, I had the thought that if this club kept six cornerbacks that Brandon Underwood would have been that guy but Underwood's play has tailed off as of late and Micah Pellerin has really caught my eye. I have said this before that you have to be a physical corner to play in this scheme and be willing to throw your body around.
Pellerin has shown that he can play with toughness but he also has some skill in handling routes. Like Underwood, he has some length but I believe that he plays with more of an aggressive nature and he also looks quicker.
· I would not be one bit surprised to see Demetress Bell get more work at left tackle over Darrion Weems who is a battle with Edawn Coughman for that potential practice squad spot. There has always been a plan for Bell with this front office and coaching staff. In the Arizona game, there still were plays where Bell was on the edge of not getting his block secure but he hung in there and attempted to finish the best he could.
There was not much foot quickness in his game but his size makes him difficult to work around. Now that the club is back in the heat of Texas, it will be interesting to see if his physical condition continues to improve and they can get a fair evaluation of him these next two games.
· Phillip Tanner will get the majority of the reps over Joseph Randle from this point going forward until Lance Dunbar returns to the squad after suffering his sprained foot. I wrote this before the team heading to California for camp that Dunbar and Tanner would get the majority of the work over Randle and nothing has changed my mind about that at all.
This is not a slam at Randle because potentially, I believe he can be a fine back in this league and in this scheme but Tanner and Dunbar are more experienced and have proven that if something were to happen to DeMarco Murray, that they would be able to fill the job. Randle still has plenty of things that he will need to learn before he will be able to compete for this job but he is making progress.
· If I was in this front office, I would have a plan for B.W. Webb this season. I believe he is a very talented player but with the depth at the position with Scandrick and Moore, I would teach him to just play one position such as slot corner. It's one of the most difficult positions to play because receivers can carry you all over the field, so I would work with him first at that spot.
Webb in these games has played on the outside with a mixed bag of success and that is okay, because he is a young player but I would try and develop him at just one position. Let him grow and learn just focusing on the slot almost like a specialist that plays in nickel and dime packages. The depth gives him time to learn but I would work with him on the hardest position first, let him feel comfortable and proceed from there.