Scout's Notebook: Line Play Leads Spirited Saturday


OXNARD, Calif. – Finally, some football.

The Cowboys practiced in pads on Saturday, and the energy level immediately went up out here on the River Ridge practice fields.

We didn't get to see one-on-one's between receivers and defensive backs, but there was more than enough action to make up for it. The team period was a nice back-and-forth between offense and defense, while the pass rushers and offensive linemen provided some fantastic battles.

Here are my notes from the action:

  • Just tremendous ball reactions by Byron Jones on his interception of Dak Prescott. Deonte Thompson had a little trouble getting off the line from Jones, but further up the field he was able to separate a bit. Prescott tried to the throw the ball out front of Thompson but he was a little short. Jones was right underneath Thompson and in perfect position as the ball came down right into his hands.
  • Really well executed stunt by Kony Ealy, Datone Jones and Damien Wilson to get pressure on Dak Prescott on the opening play of the team period. Ealy was able to get inside Smith, while Wilson drew the block of Connor Williams that allowed Jones to come all the way around to get right in Prescott's face.
  • Taco Charlton was able to close down on the front side, avoiding Connor Williams' block to capture Ezekiel Elliott before he had a chance to get through the line. Charlton was in ideal position from the start to the finish of the play.
  • Nice instinctive play by Leighton Vander Esch, playing behind the trap block of Marcus Martin to tackle Rod Smith in the backfield. As soon as Vander Esch saw Joe Looney block back, he was in Martin's hip pocket to meet Smith.
  • Give Cole Beasley a lot of credit for clearing a route out for Michael Gallup to make a reception behind him. Beasley was able to draw Kam Kelly out of the middle of the field so he wouldn't have a shot at the play. Instead of running into Kelly, Gallup had all the room he needed working against Charvarius Ward.· Better job by Jaylon Smith of carrying Ezekiel Elliott out of the backfield from what we saw on Friday where he was completely flat-footed. Smith showed a heck of a burst in order to get to the outside to cut Elliott off in his route. He allowed no separation on the play, which made it difficult for Prescott to fit the ball into him. Smith was close enough to hammer the ball out of his hands.
  • Cooper Rush let one fly during the team period that Mekale McKay was able to come down with. McKay was able to extend over the top of Anthony Brown, who was in really good position to knock it away. McKay was able to outreach him just slightly to bring the ball in.
  • There were a couple of different snaps where Chidobe Awuzie was able to force the ball off the edge by stepping up and making the play. Awuzie managed to get past a lead block from Jamize Olawale with a nifty side-step move to get to Ezekiel Elliott near the line of scrimmage. Kris Richard shot both fists in the air after the play.
  • Charles Tapper was able to force a quick pass from Cooper Rush on the boot to his side. Tapper wasn't fooled on the play and was able to stay just wide enough to make Rush have to throw it over the top of him. Justin March-Lillard was also in great shape on the play by running down Rico Gathers in the flat to keep the gain a small one.
  • Good idea by Jihad Ward in trying to break down Zack Martin in the pass rush drill. Ward took a swing at Martin's hand in order to knock it away but Martin was ready for it. Ward then tried to lower his shoulder into Martin to get him off balance and it worked to a point. Ward was able to get some initial push but then Martin was able to sit down on him and keep him in place.