OXNARD, Calif. – Some thoughts from the field in Oxnard after the first walkthrough of camp:
- Jason Garrett likes to say that injuries are part of the game in the NFL and I couldn't agree with him more. The first thing I learned a long time ago is that no one feels sorry for you. This league will test your resolve and your ability to adjust. For this offensive line, the ability to adjust has come very early in camp. When the first group broke the huddle today, it was Tyron Smith and Doug Free at the tackles with Travis Frederick at center, but Kevin Kowalski was in Nate Livings' spot on the left side and David Arkin was on the right side for Mackenzy Bernadeau. With that group, the next trick for the coaches was going to be how they were going to play the backups. Rookie tackle Edawn Coughman took some reps on the left side at guard, which was the first time that I had seen him play inside this spring, and free agent Ray Dominguez out of Arkansas was on the right side. Garrett has a plan to use rookie Travis Frederick at some point at guard and maybe even Phil Costa, who doesn't have the bulk for the position but could be forced into action if needed. In standing behind the drills at practice today and watching the line work, it appeared that Livings should be back with the group before Ronald Leary and Bernadeau do. For Livings, it about the cut on his foot being healed enough for him to practice.
- It was interesting to see Lance Dunbar getting the first shot with the ones behind DeMarco Murray. I can see Dunbar in the role as the third down back in this offense with the thought that Phillip Tanner would be the second back, but that wasn't the case. There were several plays where Dunbar received praise from Bill Callahan with his ability to read the blocks and hit the hole at the right spot. We got our first look at Joseph Randle but it was behind both Dunbar and Tanner. Seeing Randle live, he has some jump in his game. There is a burst there along with the ability to catch the ball on the move. Kendial Lawrence got some work as well but he wasn't as noticeable as either Dunbar or Randle. I am looking forward in these next several weeks to see the learning curve of Randle and how he handles these practices. It's clear that the talent is there but how quickly he picks up his assignments will tell you how fast he plays. It's clear he is off to a good start when he received chances.
- With Jay Ratliff out of the lineup with the strained hamstring, Jason Hatcher and Sean Lissemore took the majority of the reps inside at defensive tackle. On the reps where I was studying their work, it appeared that Hatcher was playing the "Under Tackle" or the 3 and Lissemore played as the "Nose" or 1 technique. With the twos, Ben Bass and Nick Hayden were getting the reps, with Ikponmwosa Igbinosun and Jeris Pendleton working with the threes. Nick Hayden appears to be a player that Rod Marinelli really likes as part of his rotation. There were several moments in the individual period where he was working with him one-on-one on his technique. Pendleton is a player that I do not know much about, but I do like what I see in his size. At 324 pounds, we will see if he can play quick enough to make himself a factor for a roster spot in this scheme. [embedded_ad]
- At safety, Will Allen continues to work with Barry Church, which was something that we saw from the last minicamp before the break. Matt Johnson and J.J. Wilcox worked with the twos which I thought was a nice combination. It was Wilcox that showed up plenty in the OTAs and minicamps, but this morning Johnson was around the ball and in position when several passes went to the outside to the tight ends and backs. He was in great shape to make the close on the ball. Another area of Johnson's game that I really liked was his communication with Orlando Scandrick. There were several plays where Callahan went to what the defense calls a "Nasty" split by the receiver tight to the formation, which Johnson and Scandrick were able to sort out with no problem. Running with the threes were Eric Frampton and Danny McCray but look for Jakar Hamilton to also get some work there.