Scout's Notebook: Byron's Growth In Coverage, Wilson Shows Up; More

OXNARD, Calif. – A few observations from Tuesday evening's practice, where the Cowboys' offense and defense traded some solid shots against each other.

  • Morris Claiborne works each day in practice on high-pointing a football -- play the route, track the ball, and then go high in the air to secure it. Claiborne did everything right in coverage against Dez Bryant, except secure the ball.  He didn't let Bryant widen him in the route so he was able to maintain his position. He saw the ball was short from Tony Romo and positioned himself by under cutting the route to put himself in position to make the play, but when the ball hit his hands – he was fighting it and it ended up on the ground. To create more turnovers you have to be able to finish plays on defense, unfortunately for the defense Morris Claiborne let one get away.
  • There is always a chance for a big, explosive play if you can get the ball to Lucky Whitehead. I had been waiting for the moment when Scott Linehan was going to dial up a play that allowed him to use his speed down the field. Whitehead moved in a short motion, right to left, then broke up the field. Both safeties were in a Cover 2 look and wide, so there was nobody patrolling in the middle of the field. Whitehead had a good three yards on Josh Thomas -- who was now in a trailing position. Whitehead had to slow down to allow the ball to get to him, which gave Thomas the necessary time to close the cushion and knock the ball away. If Whitehead could have extended his hands, I believe that he would have had a touchdown catch from Jameill Showers.
  • Sometimes the difference between a well-executed play and an incompletion is experience. In the Blue-White Scrimmage, Terrance Williams scored a touchdown on a play out of a bunch formation where he sat down in the back of the end zone and Tony Romo found him. Today, Andy Jones ran the exact same play out of that bunch formation, but instead of stopping – he misread the coverage and continued across the field. Dak Prescott threw the ball where he thought Jones was going to be instead of leading him across. Instead of scoring the touchdown it was a harmless incompletion and a wasted opportunity by the rookie for points.
  • It was the most extensive work for Damien Wilson since OTAs and minicamps back at Valley Ranch. Call it fresh legs if you want, but Wilson was moving around well. He was active and totally into the practice. One of his better plays of the day was an interception of Jameill Showers. It was a beautiful play where Wilson was able to stay in position on Keith Smith out of the backfield. When Smith made his cut on an out route, Wilson was able to drive underneath the route and extend his hands, catching the back end of the ball. As Wilson was horizontal to the ground, he was able to bring the ball into his chest before he crashed to the ground.   
  • Just watching Byron Jones practice, you can see that he is getting a nice feel of reading routes just by the way he is playing them. You can tell that he is growing more comfortable and that is allowing him to play with better range. A good example of that was when Jones was lined up in a wide Cover 2, cheating toward Cole Beasley on the outside. What Tony Romo saw was no safety in the middle of the field and Jason Witten heading for that space. Jones saw this and began to sprint to the inside to track Witten. Romo tried to fit the ball over the top to Witten, but he was unable to get it on the mark. If Witten had somehow managed to get his hands on the ball, Jones would have been in position to make it a contested catch.   

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