OXNARD, Calif. – When the Cowboys take the field Tuesday, they'll be joined by the Oakland Raiders. Today, I wanted to take a look at some of the matchups I will be observing when the teams hold their joint practices.
Cowboys Center Travis Frederick against Raiders Nose Tackles Pat Sims and Justin Ellis.
The Raiders play a 4-3 scheme with their fronts, but they tend to play the nose tackle heavy on the center moreso than in the gap. For Frederick to get work against two heavyweights like Sims and Ellis will be a positive situation. Where Frederick improved the most during his rookie season was dealing with a man on his nose. Both Sims and Ellis not only have the size to control the middle but the quickness to be disruptive as well. This will be a nice test.
Cowboys Wide Receiver Dez Bryant against Raiders Cornerback Carlos Rogers.
One of the crafty veterans in the league, Carlos Rogers is in his ninth season, spending the last three with the 49ers. Over the years, Rogers has been one of the best man-to-man cornerbacks in the league. Even at 33 years old, he still plays with quickness and a burst. He has seen all the routes during his playing days and can quickly adjust to however a receiver tries to attack him. Bryant will physically have to fight him off the line and run his routes tightly in order to buy separation. Rogers will not give him space.
Cowboys Tight End Jason Witten against Raiders Safety Charles Woodson.
When they talk about the all-time greats to ever play this game, the names Jason Witten and Charles Woodson will one day be mentioned. These two have battled before, and, even in the latter stages of their careers, it still is a pleasure to watch. Witten continues to play at a high level and has been outstanding in this camp. Studying Woodson last week against the Vikings, he still has that knack for being around the ball in the running game and when he has to play coverage, he still has those cornerback skills now being used at safety.
Cowboys Defensive Ends Jeremy Mincey and Martez Wilson against Raiders Offensive Tackle Donald Penn.
Penn comes to Oakland from Tampa Bay, where he had several solid years of production with the Buccaneers. He is not as athletic as Tyron Smith, but he has ever bit of upper body strength and power. He can be difficult to work around when you rush him on the pass. If Mincey or Wilson play without technique and try to take him down the middle, there will be trouble. In the running game, Penn will try to hammer his man off the line. Just from his mass, he can get push. Mincey and Wilson will have to use their hands quickly to shed before he can get going or they will lose that edge. [embedded_ad]
Cowboys Linebackers against Raiders Running Backs
When taking a peek at the Oakland-Minnesota contest from this past weekend, I was surprised to see how good both Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden looked in the game. Both running backs looked healthy and were playing with a little jump in their step. There was quickness and a burst with the ball in their hands. Neither played as if they were struggling to get the ball to and through the hole. These Cowboys linebackers are going to have to be quick to rally to the ball, and, when matched up in coverage, be ready to deal with the run after catch. The Raiders scheme-wise want to lean on you by playing with power. They are not afraid to pull and trap to allow these backs to attack you.