Scout’s Notebook: Defense Shines On Tuesday

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FRISCO, Texas – This week should be a bit more fun than the others.

Whereas we were only allowed to watch one OTA practice per week, we’ll be able to watch every rep of these three minicamp practices. It’s going to be a nice preview of training camp, as we evaluate how these guys will handle the full week.

Here’s my notebook from Tuesday, as we got started with this final week of practices before we break for the summer.

  • I like the way Robert Quinn competes. There were a couple of snaps where Tyron Smith smacked him in the face coming off the ball, which jolted Quinn -- but that didn’t stop him from finishing his rush. Quinn was able to knock Smith’s hands away, dip his shoulder and circle underneath Smith for the pressure. To his credit, it would have been easy for Quinn to just stop and give Smith the rep, but he just wouldn’t do it. You would have never guessed it was just a simple minicamp practice in June with the way those two were going at it.
  • Nice recognition by Dak Prescott seeing that he had a running play going away from Anthony Brown, who was a potential blitzer from the backside. Instead of allowing Brown to have a free run at Elliott and create a negative play, he moved Randall Cobb from the outside to the inside slot to get a hat on Brown. This allowed the play to have a chance. Cobb handled Brown well, but Joe Looney had trouble with Trysten Hill, who defeated Looney off his left shoulder.
  • Quality pass from Cooper Rush to Cedrick Wilson on the naked bootleg, working to his right. Blake Jarwin did a good job of setting the edge by driving Kerry Hyder to the inside. Wilson was able to sit down in the middle of Jourdan Lewis, Jameill Showers and Joe Thomas for the reception. I initially thought there was a miscommunication between Lewis and Chris Westry, because both defenders ended up taking Jon’Vea Johnson along the sideline.
  • I don’t know whether to give Chris Westry credit for a nice backside slot blitz, or to say there was a bust by Cooper Rush and Tony Pollard to identify the stunt. Rush never looked in Westry’s direction, as he was bypassed by Pollard as he released in the flat. I had seen in previous practices where Prescott flipped the ball to Ezekiel Elliott before the defense had a chance to react for a sizeable gain. Rush had a chance to do the same, but the overall execution of the play from the offensive side of the ball was poorly executed.
  • You want the name of a guy who appears ready to start the season right now? Maliek Collins would be my guy. For the last month, he’s been the one guy in the front seven that has shown up well in these practices -- especially against the best competition. It’s not like he’s been having success against the backups. Collins has been giving Zack Martin, Connor Williams and Joe Looney fits. Collins appears healthy and his feet are not giving him problems. His movement and quickness have been outstanding along with his explosive power. Collins is winning those one-on-one battles on a consistent basis.
  • Give rookie Mike Jackson some credit on his interception of Mike White during team period. Jackson, sitting in zone coverage, read White all the way as he tried to fit the ball on the out to Cedrick Wilson. As Jackson was sinking into position, he kept his eyes on White the entire time. Knowing that he had some help from Donovan Wilson over the top, he left his man and timed his break perfectly, arriving on the ball just as Wilson was making his break. White knew his pass was in trouble as soon as it left his hand.
  • · Another nice catch from Reggie Davis on the “dig” route in front of Donovan Olumba. Davis drove Olumba hard to the outside and then broke quickly to the inside. The move left Olumba off balance and stumbling as the ball left Cooper Rush’s hand. To Olumba’s credit, he was able to close the ground -- but the ball to Davis was helmet-high and he was able to extend his hands for the reception. To be honest, Reggie Davis has only come to life these last two practices. Before then he really hadn’t done too much to get noticed.
  • · It appears to be a deep group at linebacker with guys like Joe Thomas, Justin March-Lillard and Chris Covington competing for playing time. Of those guys, Thomas has been the one guy that has stepped up his game when given the opportunity. Thomas had an interception on Cooper Rush while in man coverage on Blake Jarwin. Thomas couldn’t have played the route any better by never breaking stride when he saw Jarwin working to the outside. Instead of playing through Jarwin, Thomas undercut the route, extending his hands, securing the ball all while getting both feet down inbounds.

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