Scout’s Notebook: Armstrong Ready For Big Year?

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FRISCO, Texas – Day 2 of minicamp is in the books, and it was a fun one.

Here’s another notebook full of observations from Ford Center here at The Star, as the Cowboys’ defense enjoyed a successful day of practice against the offense.

  • These coaches have to be happy with what they’ve seen from Dorance Armstrong during these practices. Armstrong has been mainly filling in for DeMarcus Lawrence on the left side, but on Wednesday he switched over to the right. There were several snaps where he was a handful for Cam Fleming to handle. Armstrong started off well last season before hitting the rookie wall. He physically looks bigger and is also now equipped with the knowledge of how he has to prepare to play at a high level the entire season. Keep an eye on Armstrong to make that jump from the first to second year.
  • It’s not often you see Xavier Woods down in the box, but the staff walked him down there to play some coverage today. Woods drew the assignment of handling Ezekiel Elliott on an “angle” or “Texas” route, where the receiver starts wide and comes back underneath. Woods was able to maintain his leverage on Elliott to the outside, and when he broke to the inside, Woods was right on his hip. The ball from Dak Prescott was a little inside, but it was on Elliott’s hands. Woods played it perfectly, ripping at it with his left hand and knocking it away before Elliott had a chance to secure it.
  • Having to deal with Amari Cooper’s route running ability forces most cornerbacks to wilt. The pressure that he puts on them in those first three steps is impressive. Cooper tried to break down Jourdan Lewis -- but Lewis was having none of it. Lewis patiently stayed in his pedal and waited for Cooper to make his move. He didn’t try and jump the route or overcommit to his movement. Without touching Cooper, Lewis simply adjusted and worked with him up the field, never allowing Cooper an inch of separation.
  • Nothing against Cole Beasley and his ability as a player, but this front office hit a home run with Randall Cobb as his replacement. I swear that in these practices, it’s as if Dak Prescott and Cobb have played together for multiple years. The route running, along with accuracy of the passes, has been spot on. Cobb is such a smart player that Prescott has no choice to throw the ball his direction. Cobb has such a great feel for how to find space in the secondary. He’s one of the best that I’ve seen when it comes to taking advantage of coverage. If you overplay him to one direction, he’s going to work the opposite way. Cobb took advantage of a misread by Xavier Woods and turned it into a huge finish down the field.
  • Jeff Heath has made his share of game-saving plays, and that’s due to the fact that he’s a difficult guy to fool. Dak Prescott learned that lesson the hard way when he pulled the ball from Ezekiel Elliott and attempted to run around the left end. Heath never moved and managed to work Prescott to the sideline, where he pitched the ball into Heath’s face. Heath didn’t appreciate the move and pushed Prescott, exchanging a few words before being separated by coaches and teammates.
  • I haven’t written much about Donovan Wilson since rookie minicamp, but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to mention a nice play he had during the two-minute drill. Kris Richard came with a blitz, which forced Cooper Rush to throw “hot” to Dalton Schultz. Wilson, from several yards away, saw Schultz look up and drove on the ball, arriving at the exact time it hit Schultz’s hands. With his left hand Wilson was able to drag the ball away, knocking it to the ground.
  • Donovan Olumba bullied Jon’Vea Johnson into an interception from Mike White. Johnson was never able to escape from Olumba, which threw the timing off. White was committed to Johnson the entire time, but with him being off balance and out of position, Johnson never had a chance to fight back for the ball. Olumba was in better position and was able to finish the play.
  • I noticed Travis Frederick getting some work during the 9-on-9 drill. Frederick was only responsible for snapping the ball to Dak Prescott and working on his pass set, but it continues to be a step in the right direction for Frederick getting on the field full-time in training camp.

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