OXNARD, Calif. – Here's a handful of observations from the Cowboys' Monday practice, focusing specifically on the guard spot and the hard week ahead for the cornerbacks.
- Ronald Leary is back at practice with the squad, but has getting the majority of his snaps with the second offensive line. Since his return from a hamstring injury, his movement has been good. He has shown the ability to adjust to the rusher, and when making the reach or cut off block, he has been able to execute with little or no trouble. I have also liked what I have observed from his upper body strength and power. He has always been a strong player, but there appears to be more pop and shock in his punch when he is coming off the ball. You see the defender stop when he hits them. I believe it's only a matter of time before we see him and Mackenzy Bernadeau back to sharing snaps with the first team to settle that left guard starting assignment.
- You have heard me say this many times that no one in this league feels sorry for you when you are struggling with injuries. But if there is a silver lining to what is happening at the cornerback spot on this squad – you are finding out a great deal about the makeup of Orlando Scandrick, B.W. Webb, Terrance Mitchell and Tyler Patmon. This group has had no choice but to stand in there and take snap after snap against a receiving crew that is deep and getting better each day. There has been no time for these guys to feel sorry for themselves, because Jason Garrett has not allowed it. It's not that Garrett doesn't care, but he realizes that by riding them, it has made the group stronger. There is no question that there has been improvement in the way Webb has played. I have seen it with my own eyes. He finally looks confident and aggressive. He is a different player. Mitchell has stepped up and taken his lumps, but he battled Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams and has not come away any worse for wear. Patmon is known more for his quickness than his physical play, but I have seen snaps where he is fighting the bigger receivers on this squad and handling them. Jason Garrett and this staff want to make things tough and uncomfortable for the players and watching these four corners work, they have done just that but in the long run it could really pay off.
- This is the time of training camp where you see the ups and downs of players at practice. The position that is usually the most noticeable is at wide receiver. Earlier in the practices it was Jamar Newsome and Dezmon Briscoe that were gaining attention with their play. These last two practices, Newsome has tailed off a bit and has not been as consistent, while Dezmon Briscoe is being evaluated for a possible concussion he suffered in the Blue-White Scrimmage. The [embedded_ad] receiver who has brought himself into the picture with his play is rookie Chris Boyd. What we have to remember about Boyd is that he missed the entire 2013 college season at Vanderbilt, so it has taken him some time to once again get back in football shape. I do not see a player that is a blazer with his speed and quickness but he is sneaky in the way he runs his routes. I have seen improvement in the way he gets himself open and less of fighting the football when trying to catch it.
- Not a whole lot to report on the first day for new offensive guard, Wayne Tribue who was brought in to replace the injured Brian Clarke. The plan was to work him in slowly and go from there. Tribue did get a few snaps toward the end of practice on some simple base running plays in the zone scheme. He was able to work with Ronald Patrick without any problems technique-wise and mentally was able to execute his assignments in that limited opportunity. He appeared to play well on his feet and was not laboring to make the blocks. Bill Callahan and Frank Pollack have him playing on the right side and his body type is that of the current guys playing the position -- thick in the upper and lower body that can set the depth of that pocket. There is no doubt that he will get a crash course in the offense to try and get himself ready to get some extensive playing time against the Chargers this week.