OXNARD, Calif. – The Cowboys will return to work Tuesday afternoon after taking their first breather on Monday. Here is a handful of things I'll be watching from the practice fields.
- One week into this camp, I like what I have seen from Zack Martin and how he has fit in with Doug Free and Travis Frederick. You hear me talk about the rookie learning curve in regard to a guy like DeMarcus Lawrence, but Martin appears to be very seasoned and comfortable in how he has picked up techniques and his assignments. One of the hardest situations for a rookie to deal with is breaking the huddle, coming to the line, than having to make an adjustment on the blocking scheme. Martin has been flawless in this regard from what I have been able to observe. He has shown the ability to adjust in space, play with lateral agility and maintain nice contact balance. There have been some snaps where I thought that he was going to be badly out of position, but he has been able to hang in there to rally to finish the block. His communication and awareness have been outstanding as well.
- I really wasn't sure what kind of player that this team had in Jamar Newsome, but one week into camp, he has opened plenty of eyes with his play. For his size of 6-1, 206, he really has done a nice job playing with surprising initial quickness and acceleration. There has been separation in his game. It really hasn't mattered if he has been running short and intermediate routes or down the field, he has found ways to make plays. He has shown strength in the way that he gets off the jam. Maybe his best trait has been his ability to catch the ball. He really does a nice job of extending his hands, which keeps the ball from away from the defenders. I didn't give Jamar Newsome much of a chance at a roster spot, but he has proven me wrong early in this camp. [embedded_ad]
- A defensive tackle that has jumped off the film at me each day has been Ben Bass. What is interesting about Bass is that despite his lack of bulk and raw strength, he finds opportunities to control blockers and work himself into position to make a tackle. Bass plays with really good lower body flex and bend. There are snaps where he is able to work his body into a position where he is not giving the blockers much of a hitting surface at all. He is slippery in his approach. What I really like about Bass is his ability to get up the field, and if the ball works to the outside, he plays with that lateral agility that you have to have at tackle. He has always been a smart player, and he is quickly able to process information and what the blockers are trying to do to him scheme-wise. It's rare that you see him get totally hooked up on a block, but when he does struggle it is usually because he missed with his hands and his lack of power hurt him. He has been taking his snaps mainly as a three-technique working with the second defense.
- Mackenzy Bernadeau is taking full advantage of this opportunity to start at left guard while Ronald Leary continues to nurse a sore hamstring. Leary has done a little more each day in trying to work his way back, but this offensive line is taking shape without him. I have been impressed with Bernadeau's ability to anchor down in the middle of that pocket and not allow any type of penetration. His initial quickness and sets have been on point, while his hands and feet have worked very well together. He has always been a player that has really nice upper and lower body strength and when he gets his hands on you, it's over. He and Tyron Smith have worked very well together in regard to passing stunts and working on the same page. If there is a weakness to his game, I believe it's his second-level play. When he is able to work down the line, he has been fine but when he has to move up on those linebackers, there is a bit of a struggle. He is aware of who he needs to get and the effort to make that happen is good, but the finish can be just a tick off. I don't see a problem with him adjusting in space but it's making sustained contact that will need to improve.