OXNARD, Calif. – As always, a few notes from the tape of the Cowboys' last practice. Having reviewed my notes from practice, I came away impressed with a few things. Put in dire circumstances, this team's young corners are rising to the challenge. Third-year tight end James Hanna also caught my eye. Lastly, a quick word on the progress of Anthony Spencer.
- Secondary coach Jerome Henderson played a number of years in this league, so if anyone understands the ups and downs of a cornerback back, it is him. What I have been impressed with about Henderson and Joe Baker is that they continue to push these corners and safeties --despite all the issues that they have had to endure with injuries. These coaches are not asking you to feel sorry for them or these players. They have taken what they have had to work with each day and tried to improve just a little bit. From a scouting
perspective it's exciting to see guys like B.W. Webb, Terrance Mitchell and Tyler Patmon getting so much work and responding the way they have. These kids have not backed down and Thursday night against the Chargers, they will be called on to carry not just some of the work but all of it. There will be moments where things will not go as well because of their lack of experience, but that will not stop Henderson and Baker from pushing them along. Help is on the way with Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr and Sterling Moore if these kids can just hang on until then, but that game experience they are receiving now makes them better players when those veterans do return.
- If you had a chance to watch Training Camp Live on Thursday, you noticed that we focused in on the work of the offensive and defensive lines in their POD drills – also known as the inside run. During that period, there were several snaps where we were pointing out the point-of-attack blocking by James Hanna on the edge, working as an inline or "Y" tight end. I have to say that I was impressed with what Hanna was able to accomplish during that period as a blocker. It was really the first time in camp where I saw him physically handle his man at the point of attack. Hanna showed nice initial quickness off the line and into his block. His angles were good along [embedded_ad] with his sustain and he was not struggling to maintain it. He was able to get some movement when required with some nice power. He was able to finish his blocks, which allowed the ball to get to the outside easily. Going into this training camp, I had some thoughts that this front office might have to go get a blocking tight end as one of the three but with the way that James Hanna carried himself during practice he gave me a little hope that he can handle the assignment.
- I usually like to walk around the field and check out the various drills that are going on during practice. Down near where the offensive and defensive lines work the injured players were doing their rehab work with Associate Athletic Trainer Britt Brown. It was the first time in all of my days here in Oxnard where I took some time to watch Anthony Spencer go through his drills. If you would have asked me four months ago if I thought Spencer would have been able to get himself together and play in 2014, I would have given him little chance. I just thought it would have been asking too much physically and mentally to make that work. There just appeared to me too many questions about his knee and the type of surgery it would require to repair it. To the credit of Spencer and the work of Brown, I have a much better feeling that Spencer will in fact play this season and not remain on that Physically Unable to Perform list the entire season. I no longer have that image in my head of him limping around Valley Ranch and looking like a shell of a player that he once was.