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Scout's Notebook: Inspiring Effort From The D-Line, Lee's Physicality; More

OXNARD, Calif. – Kellen Moore's injury took precedence over our practice coverage on Tuesday night, but there were plenty of other notes worth sharing.

Here are half-a-dozen thoughts I had during my breakdown of the Cowboys' Tuesday night practice, highlighted by several standouts on the defensive side of the ball.

Take a look:

  • What could have been a long day for the defensive line in my opinion was a productive one. With injuries across the front it was a short-handed group, but the coaches didn't let them practice that way. There was consistent pressure by the group throughout the afternoon -- which included several snaps against the first-team offensive line. That pressure was created by Ryan Russsell, Jack Crawford, Cedric Thornton and David Irving with Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens backing them up. It was an impressive show of will on the practice field.
  • Barry Church has been playing most of his snaps down near the line with Byron Jones patrolling the deep middle. During Team Period, Church showed a little versatility and range by making a play out of center field to help Brandon Carr in coverage on Dez Bryant. On the play, Tony Romo tried to float the ball down the right sideline to Bryant, but he had to double clutch it and couldn't get enough on it. It allowed Church and Carr to position themselves in order to defend the pass. Church was actually able to get both hands on the pass but couldn't bring it down due to Carr getting tangled up with him. It was well executed coverage that deserved a better finish for Church.
  • Dak Prescott hasn't taken many snaps underneath center in his career and there will be a learning curve until he does. Playing with your back to the line of scrimmage as you drop means your eyes are away from the defense. Prescott got in trouble during the Blue Period with that happening to him. As he was dropping, he knew by design that Ed Eagan was going to be to his left. What he didn't realize was that Arjen Colquhoun was sitting in zone coverage waiting for Eagan. Prescott hit his final step and let the ball fly with Colquhoun in perfect position to make the interception. It is an area that Dak Prescott should improve with the more snaps he gets playing under center.
  • Morris Claiborne continues to execute plays where he is getting his hand in position to knock balls away. Claiborne had another one covering Dez Bryant on a slant during the Team Run/Play Action Period. Tony Romo came up firing to his left, trying to fit the ball to Bryant -- but Claiborne by driving hard to the spot, didn't allow Bryant inside and was able to position his body to arrive at the same time as the pass to keep Bryant from the reception.
  • I yelled at Sean Lee after practice as he walked by our work area here at camp. "What do you have against that rookie running back (Ezekiel Elliott)?" Lee came back around the corner smiling and said "Nothing." The truth of the matter, Lee has taken every opportunity he can to not only deliver a blow to Elliott but any offensive skill player that's been carrying the ball. Lee has been his physical self and early in these practices pairing him with Anthony Hitchens has worked out well. They have both often been around the ball but have also been able to cover for the other when blocked. This has been a good sign as they work to find a replacement for Rolando McClain. 
  • In studying the injury to Kellen Moore, it was just a case of bad luck. Moore took a short drop to get the ball quickly out into the flat for Gavin Escobar. As he plants his right foot, Jared Smith is trying to sit down on Lawrence Okoye but is unable to slow him down. Smith was trying to reset his feet and just came down on Moore's ankle. There was nothing Moore could do to get out of the way and was just one of those strange injuries that happen in the pocket. 


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