FRISCO, Texas – It’s hard to draw conclusions from a walkthrough, but that’s not going to stop me from trying.
The Cowboys’ rookies hit the field for the first time on Friday, as their new coaches tried to get them acclimated to the routine they’ll be seeing during OTAs and training camp. It wasn’t a lot to go on, because the guys weren’t wearing pads. But I sat down for both practices and did my best to do some early scouting.
Here are some notes:
- I wonder if Trysten Hill has ever had a coach work with him as much as Rod Marinelli did on how to fight block pressure? Marnelli had Hill fit with Leon Lett and Andre Gurode holding bags. At the snap of the ball, Hill began working his feet to split the double-team. On Marinelli’s signal either Lett or Gurode moved to their left or the right in order for Hill to feel where the pressure was coming from. There was a snap or two where Hill adjusted to the wrong side, but with a little more work he was able to pick the correct side to chase the ball.
- I can see why Jalen Jelks had success rushing the passing at Oregon. One of the first things I noticed about him was how quickly he is able to get his foot in the ground when it comes to changing directions. He was a tick quicker than Joe Jackson when it came to getting turned and working down the line of scrimmage. Jackson was not bad but Jelks gets turned in a flash.
- Chris Westry is an impressive looking kid when it comes to his height. It’s not often that you see a cornerback that’s over 6-4. The challenge for these coaches will be to work with Westry on his ability to open and turn. His legs are so long that he’s not going to look quick doing it. There were a couple of snaps where he was paired with Mike Jackson, who was able to get turned around much quicker than Westry out of his pedal. Jackson is 3 inches shorter, but like Westry he has long legs too.
- I am finally getting used to Sanjay Lal working with these receivers the entire practice without using a ball. Lal’s attention to detail is impressive when it comes to teaching these receivers how to execute routes -- from the number of steps they take, to the proper knee lift coming off the ball. I was impressed with how quickly Jalen Guyton, Jon’vea Johnson and Reggie Davis were able to pick things up. Guyton especially caught my eye with how powerful he looked. Watching him live you can feel him exploding out of his cuts. There is a lot of power in the way he moves.
- One of the nice things about watching Marc Colombo put his linemen through drills is that you can see their athletic ability. I especially like the drill when he rolls the volleyballs along the ground and has the linemen shuffle side to side to flip the balls back to him. I liked what I saw from Brandon Knight, whereas Mitch Hyatt is going to need a little work. Knight appeared comfortable staying ahead of the balls while keeping a good knee bend. On the flip side of that, Hyatt was a step slow in positioning and found himself reaching for the balls while bending at the waist.
- We need to keep an eye on Ricky Walker working with the defensive linemen. I will say that I thought he was a “bad body” guy, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Walker appears well put together and in good shape. There were a couple of snaps where he was paired with Daniel Wise, who is pretty quick, and he was step-for-step with him -- which was surprising.
- Jordan Chunn is a big man naturally, but he looks a little heavy right now. Chunn is listed at 230 pounds, but right now he is built more like a fullback than a running back. Chunn was a punishing runner in college, but I don’t believe it was at this weight. With a crowded backfield and the addition of Tony Pollard and Mike Weber, there is not much margin for error for Chunn if he wants to make this squad or have a chance at the practice squad.
- I had a feeling that the coaching staff would maybe take a look at Larry Allen Jr. as a potential center. During his days at Harvard, Allen primarily played at guard. During the pre-practice portion of drills, he did get some work along with Connor McGovern. Allen didn’t appear as comfortable as McGovern, but they will continue to work with him because that might be the best position for him with his size and athletic ability.