OXNARD, Calif. – After all these days of practice, we now have a little while to wait for more football.
The Cowboys don't kick off against the Cardinals until Thursday night, and they won't practice Wednesday. So we have a little bit of a wait for our first preseason action this year.
To help tide you over until then, though, here are my notes from Tuesday morning's practice, which featured some ferocious action down on the goal line – as well as a few other tidbits.
- I felt a bit sorry for Kavon Frazier during practice when he drew the assignment of having to carry Jason Witten in coverage during the goal line period. It was a well-designed play from the start that fully took advantage of Witten's ability to set up the route -- much like he has been doing for years. Witten was lined up tight right, and at the snap of the ball he broke like he was going to release outside. Frazier took a step to match him, but Witten planted off his right foot and broke inside, leaving Frazier grabbing for him. James Hanna, running the same route from the opposite side, managed to run his man, Chidobe Awuzie right into the trailing Frazier. With him out of the play, Witten had free access in the end zone, which Dak Prescott was able to take full advantage of for the touchdown.
- Heck of a stick by Jaylon Smith on Keith Smith during the play action period with the offense facing a 4th-and-1. Smith was shaded to the right of Travis Frederick and scrapped hard to his left to meet Smith in the hole. Jaylon Smith's impact was so powerful that it stopped Keith Smith's momentum completely, causing him to have to re-fire his feet. It was just that little bit of second effort that allowed him to escape Jaylon Smith's arms to secure the first down. If the young linebacker was able to put his left foot down on the play, he would have had a better chance to wrap up Smith for no gain.
- Anthony Brown had a really nice play during the 2-on-2 period covering Dez Bryant. With Bryant playing out of the slot, he tried to shake Brown off the line, then swim past him to get separation. Brown was able to jam him, which threw Bryant a little off balance but somehow he was able to regain it. Bryant had located the ball by this point and extended his hands up to catch it at its high point. Brown reacted by putting his hand in between Bryant's just as the ball arrived, knocking it to the ground.
- It's not often that you see both the receiver and defensive back lose their footing at the same time but keep their balance to finish a play. Andy Jones, working against Marquez White tried to run an out route but slipped. White, in coverage, planted his left foot and it gave way, as well. With both players scrambling to regain their balance, Kellen Moore still fired the ball in toward Jones. Somehow White was able to rally to the point of getting his right hand inside of Jones' extended hands and was able to tip the ball away. As the play was developing, there was no way that I believed that White had any shot of getting into position to make that play.
- One of the best throws of the day by Dak Prescott took place on a play action pass from underneath center where he completely turned his back to the defense. Prescott went through his play fake and then quickly turned his eyes around to the defense to see Dez Bryant breaking hard to the inside, 20 yards downfield. Prescott let the ball fly as Bryant extended his hands over his head to make the catch in front of Anthony Brown, who was slightly trailing the play.
- I had to laugh when Cole Beasley came in motion behind Brice Butler, putting him in the slot and causing Orlando Scandrick and Nolan Carroll to switch coverage assignments. It was as if Scandrick knew what was coming from Beasley as the ball was snapped. Beasley exploded inside and Scandrick gave him five good yards of cushion -- but was in no hurry to go across the field with him. Beasley then put on the brakes and attempted to go the back the other direction. Scandrick was not fooled at all, giving Beasley nowhere to go.
- I saw some better patience by La'el Collins during the one-on-one period of handling the rush. Defenders had been getting the best of Collins by taking advantage of his aggressiveness and his trouble with his hands. Collins had better hand placement during this practice, and even when Damontre' Moore tried a spin move on him, he didn't get over extended and his base was right where it needed to be.
- Great push by Benson Mayowa and Stephen Paea to sack Dak Prescott during the two-minute portion of practice. Mayowa and Paea were able to execute a twist stunt that Emmett Cleary and Jonathan Cooper struggled to handle. Prescott was trying to locate a receiver down the field and was unable to do so as the width of the pocket on that left side closed down around him.
- What a confident throw by Dak Prescott to Terrance Williams on 4th-and-4 with the drive on the line during the two-minute period. Prescott fielded a high snap from Travis Frederick and, with Benson Mayowa in his face, fired a shot toward Williams. Anthony Brown was in tight coverage on Williams, who managed to sneak inside just beyond the marker to take the ball right between the numbers on his jersey. In typical Williams fashion he was able to cradle the ball while Brown was ripping at it on the ground. On the play, it appeared that neither Dez Bryant nor Cole Beasley was open -- so Prescott made the correct read.
- Tremendous block by Keith Smith on Damien Wilson on the goal line that allowed Darren McFadden just enough room to sneak into the end zone before Anthony Hitchens and Sean Lee had a chance grab him. Later in that same period, Smith was able to work to the outside to kick Mark Nzeocha wide – which, after a nice seal block by Nate Theaker on Jaylon Smith -- allowed Alfred Morris to cut the ball back inside untouched in the end zone. Well designed and executed play by the offense in a critical situation.