IRVING, Texas – Some leftover thoughts from the Dolphins game, as well as a few developments from Monday's practice.
- If there was some positive news from the practice field Monday, it was that Henry Melton and Morris Claiborne returned to work with the squad. Melton, who has been dealing with a groin injury for the last several weeks, lined up with the first defense as the under-tackle. Claiborne, who injured his shoulder while working against the Raiders in Oxnard, California, also received work with the first unit – though he was splitting snaps with Orlando Scandrick. It might not be fair to put this all on Melton, but this defense desperately needs him to be that disruptive player he was for the Chicago Bears in 2012 in all phases.
- In visiting with Ryan Williams after the Ravens game last week, he had a clear understanding of what he needed to do in order to make this 53-man roster. He knew that he had to find a way to show up on special teams, much like Joseph Randle has. Williams did get that opportunity playing on the kickoff, kickoff return and punt return against the Dolphins. For all his work that evening, his best job was working on the punt return, where he did a nice job of holding up the center and maintaining sustain in his block.
- With the release of Martez Wilson, now all eyes are focused on Kenneth Boatright. The question now becomes if can he line up at right defensive end and give this club a stable and reliable pass rush from that spot? Against the Dolphins, Boatright saw extensive action on special teams, and from my observations, he did not make any glaring mistakes in those opportunities. But let's be honest here: he was not brought on board here to play special teams. This staff wants him to put his hand in the dirt and rush the passer. What I have noticed about his game is that he doesn't always play with that burst and acceleration. It's strange how it [embedded_ad] comes and goes with him. There are snaps where he is up the field in a hurry, followed by snaps where he appears to be stuck in sand. He just hasn't been as consistent as he needs to be. There is also the issue of his upper body strength. He is just not a naturally strong player and this causes him problems getting off blocks. If he rushes a blocker down the middle, he has no shot of disengaging. There are too many flashes with this player not to give him a shot because as they sit now, those options are limited.
- If there was a positive from the lack of numbers at safety in the Dolphins game, it was that Ryan Smith received some quality snaps. There is something about this player that I really like in the way he carries himself on the field. He's not the hitter that J.J. Wilcox or Ahmad Dixon is, but he is a nice compliment to those types of players. There is a calm way in which he plays the game, and I don't mean that as a negative but you see it in the way he reads the formation, lines up and reacts to the ball. When I had the chance to ask Jason Garrett about his traits at safety he spoke of that ability to line up down in the box or in the back end to play in coverage. From a scouting perspective, I think you have to have a player at safety that is balanced in the way that he plays. I want a player that is never too high or too low. Smith appears to be very balanced.