OXNARD, Calif. – Cowboys practice was much earlier than normal on Thursday, so I've got an advance edition of the Scout's Notebook for all of you.
Thursday was the team's final practice before they head to L.A. to face the Rams, so it served as a bit of an audition for what's to come. It's hard to say for sure what we'll see at the Los Angeles Coliseum, but we got a few hints when we watched the Cowboys practice this last time.
Here's a handful of notes worth considering:
- Before we made the trip out West, our staff at DallasCowboys.com ran a series ranking all of Dez Bryant's 62 touchdown catches -- which in itself was no easy task. As accustomed as we all are to seeing those types of plays, Bryant made a catch during the "Play It Out" portion of practice that would have easily ranked in his Top 3. Working between Cole Beasley on his inside and Jason Witten on the outside, Bryant had Brandon Carr over the top. Beasley broke hard to his right, while Witten remained motionless. Byron Jones, who was in coverage on Witten bailed to try and help Carr with Bryant who heads for the corner. With Jones to his left and Carr on his right, Romo threw the ball in the only place that Bryant could catch it – up the field. Somehow Bryant extended his left hand and pulled the ball in while also managing to get both feet down in bounds.
- When Jason Garrett calls for a Compete Period, it usually involves players going 1-on-1 in front of the entire team. To end practice this morning, Garrett called for the period -- but this time with a little twist. Garrett wanted to see his young players battle 11-on-11 for one play. The ball was placed on the 2-yard line, just like you would see for a 2-point conversion. The call was for Jameill Showers to sprint to his right in order to get outside the pocket. In my Green Bay Packers days, we would have called this play "Sprint Right Option." For the play to work, Andy Jones has to beat Jeremiah McKinnon off the line and get wide quickly. Jones didn't beat him, and then Showers delivered the ball much too wide for Jones to grab -- which resulted in a defensive win.
- Tyrone Crawford has been working his way back into the rotation and in this practice came up with a nice down-the-line play to stop Alfred Morris for no gain. Crawford, playing on the outside shoulder of Zack Martin, went hard to the inside as the play went away from him. Doug Free tried to make the cutoff block but was unable to work his head across Crawford -- who used his left arm to knock him off balance. It was a move by Crawford that showed tremendous quickness and power to defeat Free the way he did.
- Much better job by the offensive line giving Tony Romo time to deliver the ball than what we observed on Wednesday. Romo didn't have to fight the inside pressure and the bodies around him while he was looking for receivers. He was able to take advantage of the clean pocket, especially from the inside trio of La'el Collins, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin. He had the opportunity to step up, look over the field and take the best option for his throws.
- Don't know at this point if we will see any of the starters for this contest against the Los Angeles Rams. What I did notice during that portion of the practice where the first offense worked on cards of the Rams defense was that Tony Romo was on the field taking the snaps. Maybe this was Jason Garrett's way of keeping the media off balance of who was going to play Saturday night? If Romo does play my guess is that it would only be for one series at most.