FRISCO, Texas – Another week, another opportunity to watch some football.
Wednesday was the second open OTA session here at The Star, as the Cowboys continue to move through their offseason program. There's one last open day next week before we get to the three-day minicamp.
This second practice gave us a chance to further some of our impressions from last week. Here's a quick notebook on what I saw from the practice field inside Ford Center.
- What an exceptional adjustment by Dak Prescott during the blitz period, reading Jeff Heath coming off his left side and getting the ball to Ezekiel Elliott on the move. Prescott knew he didn't have much time with Heath on top of him and put the ball in a perfect spot out in front of Elliott where all he had to do was turn up the field. Joe Thomas made a nice play himself, rallying over and tagging Elliott in the open field in order to keep the damage to a minimum.
- Creative rub route to get Michael Gallup open across the middle with the offense facing a big third down. Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz created a moving wall, coming from right to left, as Gallup was working the opposite direction. It took every bit of skill for Jourdan Lewis to fight through the trash and get in position. Unfortantely for Lewis, Prescott put the ball out in front of Gallup, who never broke stride turning up the field.
- I believe this is by design, but I have noticed a lot of movement with this offensive line when it comes to the way Kellen Moore is calling plays. You see a lot of counters, screens and fold blocks. Moore is attempting to use the athletic ability of his linemen in order to create some favorable matchups for the scheme. I lost track of the number of plays where there was someone on the move and working in space.
- Here's my "kiss of death" for a player during OTAs practice, but keep an eye on Luke Gifford – the linebacker out of Nebraska. I like the depth of the linebackers on this squad, so Gifford might not be a standout at this point. But there is something about his game that translates to this scheme. All I ever saw him do in college was plays on the edge, which means he didn't have to run all that much. It appears the defensive staff is asking him to play more inside, which has allowed his instincts to shine. Gifford has some slippery traits to him. He has a feel for how to play through gaps and avoid blocks.
- Touchdown passes, generally, are a result of outstanding protection. Cooper Rush delivered a beautiful pass down the sideline to Jon'Vea Johnson after Mike Weber stepped up and picked up a blitzing Nate Hall. Half the battle of pass protection is understanding who to get and Weber executed that part of it well. Where Weber is going to need to improve is with his base. His footwork was narrow but his athletic ability allowed him to recover and work Hall out of the play.
- I have had the opportunity to watch a couple practices now, and one guy that's caught my eye along the defensive line has been Daniel Wise at tackle. Like Luke Gifford, he's a guy that primarily played on the outside in college, but the coaches see some potential playing him inside as an under tackle. What I like about Wise is how quickly he gets off the snap. Blockers have a hard time getting a hat on him, especially when he uses a quick arm-over move. He's a disruptive player that has a nose for the ball. What I am looking forward to seeing is if next week they give him a shot with the first defense and see how he matches up with Zack Martin and Connor Williams. That would be a good test to see where he is.
- Jourdan Lewis has been primarily playing in the slot with the first defense while rookie Mike Jackson works with the second group. Jackson might not have the same quickness as Lewis, but I am sure the coaches are looking at his size and length as a potential advantage for him on the inside. Amari Cooper got Jackson on a beautiful double-move where he drove Jackson off the ball. Then, once Cooper felt all of Jackson's weight up the field, he broke hard to the outside. Jackson wasn't in terrible position, but there was that little bit of separation where Prescott was able to fit that ball in to Cooper for the reception. It's a great learning experience for Jackson to be working against big-time route runners like Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb.
- It's not often that you see Randall Cobb drop a pass, especially when he's on the move -- but that was the case during the two-minute drill. The defense brought a slot blitz from Prescott's right and both he and Cobb read it perfectly. Cobb worked up the field, then broke to the inside. Heath tried to catch up but there was slight separation. Prescott put the ball on Cobb head high, which is usually money for him -- but he just couldn't come down with it. In talking to people around The Star, it appears that the Prescott/Cobb connection has taken off in a positive way.