OXNARD, Calif. – The Cowboys will finally put some pads on Saturday afternoon. Until then, I have a few more observations from the last day of light work on Friday night.
- The one thing Bill Callahan and Frank Pollack have not been afraid of while they have been the offensive line coaches here is playing their lineman at different positions during practice. Last year at this time, remember how Doug Free had some days where he took a rep or two at right guard and there was some consideration by the front office to keep him there until Brian Waters signed at the end of camp.
Callahan and Pollack are now at it again by moving Mackenzy Bernadeau from running with the first offense at left guard to playing center with the twos. In both practices, rookie Zack Martin, who has played the majority of snaps at right guard, received some work at center as well. Martin had been working in the pre-practices during center and quarterback exchange to get a feel for the position.
To Martin's credit, he was not bad with his technique on the zone running plays, but he needs to become a little quicker getting into his block once the exchange is made, but this is something that should come with time the more comfortable he becomes.
- I have to say I like what I have observed from Bruce Carter so far in these early practices. He is playing like a player that has a much better understanding of what his responsibilities are and what technique he has to execute in order to be successful.
There were clearly times last season where he was lost, not only dealing with the pass but also having to play against the run. It appears just watching the scheme that they are playing him behind the under-tackle or the three-technique, and it has protected him. It has allowed him to flow to the ball better, which has always been a strength of his.
Even in pass coverage, it doesn't appear that he is guessing what he needs to fit. A good example of this was in the Team Blitz Period, where the offense tried to fool him with flow away to his right, then sneaking Jason Witten into the flat. Carter made a quick, aggressive move to his right, with his eyes on Brandon Weeden. When Weeden pulled the ball from DeMarco Murray, Carter was right on Witten and in outstanding position to make the tackle for no gain.
Another thing to look forward to from Carter this season is being used as a blitzer, both inside and out. There have been several snaps already this camp where Rod Marinelli has brought him to be disruptive.
- In these first four practices on the defensive side of the ball, the coaches have been consistent with the combinations along the defensive line that we observed during the OTA and minicamp practices. The only exception is that Henry Melton is the starter at the three for Terrell McClain.
Nick Hayden is still the starter at the one-technique. McClain [embedded_ad] remains at the three with the second group and he continues to be paired with rookie Ken Bishop. Ben Bass and Davon Coleman make up the final group inside. Bass is at the three and Coleman the one.
On the outside, George Selvie is the starter at left end with Tyrone Crawford as his backup, and Selvie appears to be moving better than he did during those practices in the spring. The rotation behind Crawford has been Caesar Rayford, then Ben Gardner.
On the right side, Jeremy Mincey is the starter with DeMarcus Lawrence backing him up. Behind Lawrence have been Martez Wilson and Dartwan Bush. I expect that the more practices we have here during camp, the more we will see these coaches shuffle the combinations to try and build some further depth at other positions on the front.
- There has been a great deal said and written about the situation with Rolando McClain and what might come from it. It made me think about the days that I worked in the scouting department here in Dallas.
I have been around Jerry Jones since 1999 and sat in plenty of personnel meetings with him discussing troubled players both in the college ranks and free agents on the NFL streets. The one thing I really respected about him was his willingness to take in all the information about those types of players and make a decision.
Right or wrong, as scouts we always had the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons about having a player with legal troubles on our roster. When I listened to Jones talk about how he felt with Rolando McClain, I had never seen him so confident about trying to make this particular player work. There is no question in my mind McClain is the most talented linebacker on this roster that could fill in for Sean Lee.
It was not a mistake where he was drafted, but if you need further proof, check out the team the Cowboys had to trade with to get his rights, the Baltimore Ravens. I believe we all respect the job that Ozzie Newsome has done over the years with that club. Jerry Jones and the Cowboys are going to see this one through, trust me on this.