OXNARD, Calif. –Some thoughts from the practice field here in Oxnard:
- Jason Garrett said not to read too much into the playing time of these young quarterbacks and how they are being used. Nick Stephens has been the first man off the bench in the battle with Alex Tanney for a potential spot on this roster. Garrett offered that it was about getting both reps and that was the important thought.
- Lance Dunbar continues to work as that second running back behind DeMarco Murray and if something did in fact happen to Murray, I believe this coaching staff would be comfortable playing him in that role. Where Dunbar has improved the most is his willingness to develop as a pass protector. He gives up height to everyone that he takes on but he has shown the ability to be good with his technique and physical.
- The Cowboys keep trying to fix the defensive end position. The club claimed Thaddeus Gibson, who now joins his eighth team in four seasons. Gibson (6-2, 243) has played as an outside linebacker in 3-4 scheme. He was recently cut by the Titans but has also played with Chicago, Houston, Washington, San Francisco and Pittsburgh.
A former fourth-round pick in 2010 out of Ohio State, Gibson has three career tackles.
To make room, the Cowboys waived tackle James Nelson, which should suggest Demetress Bell is ready to return to practice.
- It's clear that James Hanna will be the tight end that will be paired with Jason Witten when the offense gets in their "12" personnel package. Hanna has been steady since he has returned from his hamstring injury at the beginning of camp but not as dominate as I thought he would have been in this offense. Where he is completely different from Gavin Escobar is his quickness in and out of routes but also his ability to separate. I am still waiting for him to put together those two or three practices then carry that into a game.
- The staff had to shorten practice on Monday because of the depth of his offensive tackles was stretched to the point that both Doug Free and Tyron Smith had to take reps with the second offensive line. Today's practice should fully see the return of Jermey Parnell and Demetress Bell. From observing practice on Monday, it appears that Parnell will once again stay at right tackle and Bell play on the left. These additions should give Garrett the relief that he needed.
- Having worked in this league for a number of years, I fully understand how injury can take its toll on your squad during these training camp practices but I have to admit as disappointed that Jay Ratliff and Anthony Spencer have missed the majority of these practices, the injury to Morris Claiborne might be the one that has me struggling the most. I am not here to blast Claiborne for not being on the field because he more than showed his toughness last season fighting through all kinds of issues but with the new scheme and missing the adjustments in it through practices and preseason games just bothers me. If Claiborne was a nine year veteran and dealing with the constant wear and tear that players go through, I would totally understand but he is just in his second season and for some reason that just doesn't seem right. I hope I am wrong about that. [embedded_ad]
- Nick Hayden still continues to get reps with the first defense as Sean Lissemore remains the backup. Ben Bass is once again back inside at the under tackle and it made me wonder after his work at defensive end in his role as a starter, if the numbers didn't fall right would he be the guy that the coaches go to over George Selvie as a backup to Anthony Spencer to maybe save a roster spot? I have always believed that you want to carry as many offensive and defensive linemen on your roster as possible because those guys are hard to find during the season. With this front office that might not be the case at all but with injuries to Ratliff and Spencer it is a situation that they might be forced to do. Keep on eye on how this rotation works the next several weeks.