IRVING, Texas – A handful of impressions from Friday's practice at the Cowboys' rookie minicamp:
- I have to admit that I was interested to see how Byron Jones was going to practice physically today. I had an idea, studying his college tape, how he would move, but to see him on the field with my own eyes gave me a much better idea of how he carried himself.
From the word "Go" Jones was locked into these practices -- especially the afternoon session, where he carried these receivers all over the field. It didn't matter if it was George Farmer, Nick Harwell or Antwan Goodley, Jones was up to the task. He played the majority of his snaps in press coverage and off the snap was difficult to get away from. His technique was spot on and trust me, Jerome Henderson was right there with him every step of the way to make sure it was.
What was most impressive about Jones' day was how tight he can play while the receiver runs his routes. There was little or no window for these quarterbacks to throw into while he was on the field. Nice start to his weekend.
- Of the two defensive ends that were selected in this draft, much of the focus was on Randy Gregory, but it was Ryan Russell that had the better day. In the middle of the practice I started to notice signs that Gregory's lack of conditioning was starting to affect the way that he was playing.
Russell did a nice job of fighting through the practice and there was a snap or two where from his left end spot where he was a disruptive player -- which is what we expected from Gregory. I also noticed in the 1-on-1 pass rush drill where Russell took a rep from the defensive tackle spot and he was able to defeat the blocker easily.
Speaking of defensive ends that caught my eye, Gavin Stansbury from Texas A&M was a difficult player for these tackles to handle. Stansbury is here as a tryout player and if he caught my attention, I am sure that the coaches saw the same thing.
- Of the two quarterbacks that worked on the opening day of camp, I liked what I observed from Jameill Showers over Brandon Bridge clearly from an accuracy standpoint. Both quarterbacks have tremendous arm strength, but I knew from studying their college film that there were snaps where the ball would be all over the place. It appeared that Showers did a better job of not only controlling his passes but his emotions as well. I had some concerns about his touch and it was clear that since his last college game it was something that he had worked on.
- It's never easy for these offensive linemen to block when the dress of the day is helmets only. These practices put them in tough situations with the opportunity to look like they are struggling, but what you can see is strength and athletic ability. I thought it was a tough day for both Chaz Green and Laurence Gibson at offensive tackle. Green went off the field dealing with cramping issues, so he did not get to finish practice. Gibson managed to battle through but he struggled with the rush off the edge. I have seen him plenty of times in his college film get to the outside and with power shut down his man. In the afternoon practice, his technique wasn't as good and there were snaps where he was overextended and chasing the rusher. These things happen to young linemen and in this case it's something they both can learn from.
- I didn't know much about Chris Whaley and what he could bring to this defense, but the front office and coaching staff had enough confidence to keep him around the entire season in order to get healthy. Whaley lined up as the under-tackle and I would have to say that I was impressed with what I saw from his first day. He played with explosive quickness when attacking the gap and was a handful for these offensive linemen to have to deal with. He was up the field on his pass rush and was also to play down the line on several plays in the running game where he was in position to make the play. While noticing Whaley, I was also impressed with Isiah Dunning and Bryon Bennett - both weekend workout players who were also around the ball a bunch.