- One defensive lineman that really showed up in the team periods, was tackle Terrell McClain. His quickness off the snap was impressive. When I studied his play with the Texans, he was totally out of place playing as the nose in Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme.
What I projected him to play for the Cowboys was the one-technique, but with no Henry Melton, he took reps at the three-tech and was all over the place. The majority of the running plays for the offense were zone stretch plays, and there were several snaps where McClain was so quick off the snap that the offensive tackles had a hard time getting a hat on him. He was into the backfield and onto the ball. I still think he could be better as a one but he sure grabbed my attention as a three.
- Just when you think Jason Witten is slowing down as a player, think again. Over the years, we have come to appreciate what Witten has done as a pass-catching tight end, but the area of his game that he has developed since the Cowboys have gone with this zone run scheme, is his blocking.
Matter of fact, one of the main reasons that the offense was able to run the ball better in 2013 was that Witten and the tight ends became better point of attack blockers. What Witten has become is more of a crafty blocker in getting it done with positioning of his body instead of brute strength and power. What has been interesting to watch is when Witten and Tyron Smith work together to handle the end and linebacker on the second level.
They are in perfect step when they come off the ball together. The idea is to not allow any space between themselves and they do this very well. When you see the ball get to the outside clean, it usually has something to do with a block that Jason Witten has delivered.
- With George Selvie only working through drills in practice and not in team periods, it has given Tyrone Crawford the opportunity to get work on that left side at end. From what I was able to see with Selvie in the mix, when Marinelli went to nickel, Crawford will slide down inside to the one next to Melton and DeMarcus Lawrence at the right end. So the "Rushmen" would line up Selvie, Crawford, Melton and Lawrence. The appeared to be no issues with Crawford and the Achilles at all with his movement coming off the ball, taking on blocks or holding the point of attack.
The trainers had him full-go and he responded very well. There were some snaps where his technique was a little rusty, but there were also times where he was in the backfield right off the snap. I believe we will see him continue to shuffle between tackle and end, not just focusing on one spot. He can help at either well in this system. [embedded_ad]
- It was only OTA practice No. 1, but I really liked what I saw from running back Ryan Williams. The only real poor snap he had -- and this is going to be an issue for him -- is that he missed in helping tackle John Wetzel against Ben Gardner which resulted in a sack.
But when it came to finding the holes, making a cut and showing some juice, he was at his best. This zone scheme seems to be a very good fit for him because it allows him to take the ball, use his vision and explode through the hole. There is some noticeable quickness to his game and he is one of those backs when you watch him run, you can feel him do it.
He will attack the hole and he appears to be bigger than his listed size of 5-9, 207. I like the running style and have seen him catch the ball, but running backs coach Gary Brown likes to say "What are you doing without the ball in your hands?" This is where he is going to need his most work.