OXNARD, Calif. – Here are some Blue-White Scrimmage thoughts from the film room in Oxnard:
- With the way that Monte Kiffin and his group is playing this defense, running back DeMarco Murray will have 100 catches out of the backfield in this camp. Murray is a talented runner, but if Kiffin continues to play this zone defense, which he will, and Tony Romo remains patient in his approach to running the offense, Murray will continue to shine receiving the ball. The underneath routes and the screen packages that the offense has been working on will completely be to Murray's advantage this season.
- In having the opportunity to visit with executive vice president Stephen Jones before the scrimmage, he was excited to talk about the potential return of Ronald Leary this week to the offensive line mix. In my view he cannot return quickly enough, not only to dress up the second offensive line, but compete for one of these guard spots with the first unit. Nate Livings is working his way back into the mix after missing several practices in minicamps with knee issues but also tending to the cut on his foot. Livings did have a couple of good reps when he was asked to pull in the scheme which was surprising because he is playing like he is having trouble bending. He is playing with a wide base and he has straight legs. It has been difficult for him to adjust consistently to the rusher. Jason Hatcher gave him troubles during the scrimmage on quick movement. If Leary can return this week, that position appears to be one that is up for grabs.
- Bruce Carter took his normal reps with the first defense yesterday, but he also took reps with the second defense in the Red Zone 7-on-7 period. Ernie Sims, who, coming into this camp was pretty much an afterthought, ran with Sean Lee and Justin Durant. It was the first time this camp that I noticed that Carter was working with a group other than the ones. To Sims' credit, he looked good in his assignments and throughout the first week of camp has played even better than he did when he was called on last season. This 4-3 scheme is a much better fit for the type of talent and traits that he has.
- Terrence Williams is getting a big dose of the offense and with Dez Bryant sitting out the scrimmage he was once again put on the big stage with the ones. There were a couple of reps where I noticed he was scrambling around to get correctly lined up but managed to do so quickly. Where he is going to have to make his most improvement is learning how to fight when corners play him in the press. During the two minute drill on Sunday, Romo tried to go his direction while he was working against Brandon Carr who had him so tied up he never reacted to the ball. It's good that Williams gets those types of experiences but if he is going to be on the field in crunch time, he will need to be more physical and do a better job of fighting for space. To his credit, he came back later with a nice slant to convert a third down to keep the drive going but it was against free access. The young man is learning but he just needs to do it faster.
- A player that most people other than this front office and scouts had given up on is guard David Arkin, but he is quietly having a nice camp. He has been the starter since day one at right guard and his play has improved over last season. He is playing with better technique and is doing it with some power, which has always been a struggle for him. There are still times where he is a little on the edge of completely securing his block but there have been less of those times. He will tend to play upright but I have also noticed better knee bend especially in his run blocking. Guard appears to be more of a natural position for Arkin after playing as a center last year. Where he really has improved is working with Doug Free on those blocks where they zone. There are not as many times where their man is running unblocked. I still don't believe Arkin is a guy you want to be playing every down but there are reps where he has made improvement and that is a step in the right direction for a guy that many labeled a bust. [embedded_ad]
- I like to think I know these players pretty well when the college or pro scouts bring them onto the roster, but I honestly had no clue who defensive tackle Jeris Pendleton was. But I am to the understanding that I need to pay closer attention to his work. For a squad that is struggling with trying to find help inside at tackle, Pendleton has got my attention. He has done a really nice job as that nose in this scheme but more importantly he has been consistent doing it. Nick Hayden and Jerome Long have been nice attentions too but Pendleton has played the run well and with brute strength but he also manages to get up the field and there were several reps in the scrimmage where on twist stunts and straight rushes he beat the block of the center and guard, to create pressure. He is turning into a nice rotational player for this defensive line and with five preseason games ahead, he will get plenty of opportunities to see if he can carry this good start to camp throughout the rest of camp and find a way onto this roster.