Scout's Notebook: Dak's Development, Personnel Groupings; More

OXNARD, Calif. – Finally, we're done with the training wheels and these Cowboys players can get into a padded practice.

Sunday evening saw the second-straight non-padded practice of training camp. The Cowboys once again didn't compete, offense vs. defense, so we got a bit of a limited look at what this team is working on.

That said, there was plenty to look at as we ease into the grind of the summer, and tomorrow's padded practice should bring a boatload of new things to talk about.

Some notes:

  • Zack Martin took some reps at center this morning during the walkthrough portion of practice, but not in the afternoon practice. Ronald Leary, who normally lines up at left guard, saw some action on the right side. By working Martin some at center and moving Leary around, it might be their way of making sure Leary could be active on game days by getting their best seven guys up.
  • I've been noticing more disguising of coverages from the secondary than what we had seen in the past. The coaches have even had the second and third lineups moving in and out of looks once the ball has been snapped. It appears that all the players have been on the same page in regard to where they have needed to be with no major busts. As a matter of fact, the coverage overall has been very good. Quarterbacks have had to check the ball down a considerable amount of snaps.
  • This offense is still big on their "11" personnel, which is never a bad plan to attack with the players they can run onto the field. What I have seen a little bit more in these practices has been "21" personnel with Rod Smith in the game at fullback. Rod Smith has taken the majority of the snaps, while Keith Smith hasn't seen as many. I thought that Keith Smith had a little bit better feel for the position during OTAs in regard to fit and playing with leverage. When the pads come on Monday – I am interested to see if Rod Smith continues to get the majority of the work.
  • There's been a lot of Barry Church covering Jason Witten in these practices. Church has been playing down quite a bit, while Byron Jones has been in the middle of the field and deep. Witten has been working those traditional routes for him across the field, which means Church has been in chase mode. I thought coming into this camp it would be Jones with those assignments, but so far Church has been able to hold his own with the crafty Witten.
  • I am not in the nightly quarterback meetings, but I promise you that Wade Wilson is telling Dak Prescott that he has to speed up his reads and get rid of the ball quicker. It is especially noticeable when they are in the blitz period and Prescott is standing in the pocket holding the ball. There is no question that Prescott is trying to do the right thing for the success of the play, but these defenses will make you pay when you are not thinking fast.
  • As much as I want Morris Claiborne to have a completely healthy season – I am wishing the same for Terrell McClain. The current rotation along the defensive line has McClain running with the ones and Cedric Thornton as the backup nose tackle. If you ask me who has been the most impressive of the defensive linemen in through these first two days – McClain would be my guy. I have really liked what I have seen him getting off the ball and up the field. There have been some snaps where he has been difficult to handle. Looking forward to seeing him practice in pads on Monday.


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