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Scout's Notebook: Anthony Brown's Recovery, Justin Durant's Debut; More

FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys are going through a morning practice on Thursday. As we take in the final practice of the week from Ford Center, here are my top notes from Wednesday night's practice.

  • David Irving is one of those players that has a knack for making plays on the goal line. He was able to shed the head-up block of Travis Frederick and quickly capture Prescott behind the line of scrimmage before he had a chance to even get up the field. Irving sniffed out the play with nice awareness, but what was even more impressive was how he was able to discard Frederick to make the tackle.
  • Ezekiel Elliott's best run of the day came on a trap block from James Hanna. The play opened up well when Jonathan Cooper was able to cut off Sean Lee from the ball and Zack Martin drove Maliek Collins down inside away from the hole. With no penetration on the play, Hanna worked along the line of scrimmage and was able to knock DeMarcus Lawrence to the ground, allowing Elliott a clear path into the secondary untouched.
  • Good rip move by Taco Charlton to free himself working against Chaz Green during the team compete portion of practice. The rush forced Dak Prescott to have to flush from the pocket to his left. Anthony Hitchens closed quickly from the inside, giving him limited options. Prescott tried to force the ball to the near pylon, to Ezekiel Elliott, but his pass was too wide for the extended Elliott to make the reception.
  • Noah Brown continues to find ways to impress the coaching staff with his play during these practices. Brown, working against Marquez White, was able to win off the line initially -- but White managed to rally back into position. Both players, working in the end zone, were battling for space. Brown extended his arm into White's shoulder, giving him just enough separation. White was also late getting his head around to find the ball from Kellen Moore, allowing Brown to make the reception for the score. 
  • We had the opportunity to see a little of Justin Durant for the first time working in the play action period. Scott Linehan called a misdirection flip play on short yardage to try and fool the defense. Damontre' Moore did a nice job of staying at home -- but he was also playing wide enough to force Rod Smith to have to cut the ball inside. Durant, hustling from the middle of the field, was able to beat Chaz Green's block. Durant was able to wrap up Smith with a solid open field tackle.
  • I'm seeing less body catching from Terrance Williams and more confidence in his hands. Williams came up with a perfectly thrown pass from Dak Prescott, where he snatched a slant on the move inside of Nolan Carroll and exploded into the secondary. I will be interested to see if Williams reverts back to his old ways when the pressure of the games requires him to make a reception. My initial feeling was we would see him body catch again, especially in clutch situations -- but he has been consistent using his hands, even on contested throws. 
  • You wouldn't think that Stephen Paea would be good to use on a twist stunt due to his size, but that's not the case. The offense attempted to hit an outside running play with Ezekiel Elliott off the edge. It was the perfect defensive call to put Paea in position to make the tackle after Taco Charlton and Maliek Collins fired hard to the inside to disrupt the offensive blocking scheme. With Charlton and Collins holding blocks, it allowed Paea to come around to the outside, giving him a free run at Elliott. The running back attempted to bounce the ball to the outside, but he had no such luck. Paea was right there waiting for him.
  • I think we should see some of Anthony Brown playing in this game against the Oakland Raiders. Brown has been working back into practice and quite frankly, not a moment too soon. I've been looking for someone to step up and compete with Nolan Carroll at the left cornerback spot. Brown has been playing at right corner when Orlando Scandrick goes into the slot in the nickel defense, and his movement has been good. He doesn't appear to be laboring at all, which is a positive sign. The athletic trainers have done a nice job with him to get him back on the field. Mentally, he needs to be ready to play. With the injuries to Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, this group is struggling to find depth. Duke Thomas might be the exception here but other than him it's thin at the moment. 
  • Blake Jarwin has been getting more work during practice since the injury to Rico Gathers. Jarwin got off to a slow start at camp but has appeared to show up more recently. He's a much better receiver than he is a blocker, but he's working to improve that. During the Compete Period of practice, he made a contested catch against Jamail Showers with the safety all over him. Jarwin was able to hold off Showers while also extending his hands for the reception. I don't see him competing for a roster spot at this moment, but if something were to happen long-term to Gathers and his health, the situation for him could change.
  • After reading Zack Martin's comments, I don't feel so bad about my preseason prediction of Maliek Collins making the Pro Bowl this season. Martin said that he believes that Collins is going to be one of the top three-techniques in the NFL. High praise from a man that is one of the best at his position as well.
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