FRISCO, Texas – This will be a fun three days to determine how much this team has developed in the past two months.
These are our final three practices until training camp, so this will serve as a lasting impression until we see the pads come on. Considering all of that, it was fun to get out there and see how this offense and defense went at each other to start the week off.
Here are some notes and observations from the practice fields here at The Star:
- It was a heck of a day for Jeff Heath in coverage. Heath continues his knack for being in the right place at the right time. Both of his interceptions took some skill to pull off. Jason Witten couldn't get both hands on a ball that I've seen him catch a hundred times, but he tipped it into the air. Heath, driving on the play, was able to gather it with one hand and pull it into his body. His next one came during the two-minute drill, when Dak Prescott had no choice but to fire the ball into the end zone with little time left. Prescott tried to find Dez Bryant, but the pass sailed wildly behind him and Heath was once again in position to high point the ball, ending the drive.
- Dak Prescott's Throw of the Day came during the Team Period on a well-run "in" cut by Dez Bryant. Bryant was able to defeat Orlando Scandrick across the field, going left to right. It was a good sign because Prescott has been working hard to make those throws from the middle of the pocket and he hit Bryant with a bullet. Bryant snatched the ball right at his face mask and never broke stride.
- Last week I thought Chaz Green had some balance problems at guard. This time around, he did a much better job of handling his technique. There were some situations where he and Tyron Smith had to handle some blitzes and games up front and he was good to go. He wasn't overextended and reaching for his man. His weight was better through his feet and his knees had some bend to them. There was overall better adjustment to his game.
- The Catch of the Day belonged to Darren McFadden. Facing a blitz coming from his right, Prescott flipped the ball out to McFadden in the flat -- but it was tipped by Tyrone Crawford, causing the ball to change direction. McFadden, reaching back with his right hand, tipped the ball back to himself, regained his balance then headed up the field. Out front, he got blocks from Travis Frederick, Zack Martin and Chaz Green before he was even touched, some 20 yards down the field.
- Nice job by Byron Jones during the two-minute drill, timing his blitz to record a sack on Dak Prescott. Jones fooled the blocking scheme by coming across the formation late, which left him unblocked with a free run at Prescott.
- Jason Witten still has that ability to draw coverage to him, allowing others to get open. Ryan Switzer benefited from a Witten route underneath that caused Jaylon Smith to cheat his direction. Switzer smartly broke inside away from Smith to the open space. Seeing what had developed, Prescott was able to make a simple toss to the uncontested receiver for a nice gain.
- I like what I saw from Chidobe Awuzie in coverage out of the sub package, especially playing inside. His size makes him a good prospect to match up with big receivers and tight ends. He made a solid play while carrying Connor Hamlett across the field, knocking the ball away in the flat with his off hand.
- New quarterback Zac Dysert got some work during the practice and looked smooth with his mechanics. His touch to the backs in the flat and underneath was good. His location was where it needed to be, not making the receivers have to work at all for the receptions. He even hooked up with newly-signed receiver Lance Lenior on a slant against Duke Thomas for a nice gain. Later in the practice, he found Brian Brown on a comeback over the top of Thomas again and in front of Leon McFadden.
- Play log for Jaylon Smith during this practice: six snaps in the walkthrough blitz period, four snaps in 7-on-7 and three during half-line. His best rep was in half-line when he was asked to play in coverage against Terrance Williams. On that particular snap, Williams executed a route where he worked inside, then quickly back to the outside. Smith, in a zone drop, read the play and planted off his right foot (the non-injured one). He was able burst to the outside to contest the ball. He didn't knock it away but his positioning gave him a chance.
- Anthony Brown was able to knock the ball away from Dez Bryant during the 7-on-7 period. Brown, playing as the right corner, was able to position himself inside to keep Bryant from getting to the spot. The ball was a little behind Bryant but that really didn't matter due to Brown's positioning. Even after the ball went to the ground, Bryant pointed at Brown as to say "nice play."
- Anthony Hitchens continues to play well, but when he gets the chance to make an interception, he needs to finish. Hitchens, following the eyes of Prescott, positioned himself between the quarterback and Terrance Williams. Prescott let the ball fly trying to fit it inside, but Hitchens was right there in the throwing lane -- but he didn't time his jump well and it bounced off his hands.
- Dez Bryant took some snaps as a punt returner with the Scout Team as a backup to Ryan Switzer.