OXNARD, Calif. – There's not much to report when the players don't wear pads and the offense and defense don't compete against each other.
Despite that, it's the first day of training camp and there's no way I wasn't going to put together a notebook. Even with the relaxed nature of practice, there are still some things we can glean from the first day of practice.
Here are a handful of notes I gathered from Saturday's action:
- Orlando Scandrick worked at left cornerback in the morning walkthrough and that carried over into the afternoon. Brandon Carr took snaps on the right side with Morris Claiborne working on both the left and sides. There is no question that the coaching staff is doing this in order to put Scandrick, their best playmaker, in position to make more plays on the ball.
- It was interesting to see Ryan Russell lining up at right defensive end with the first defense. Russell has been working exclusively on the left side, and with DeMarcus Lawrence being suspended, he would have a chance to start there. As the practice went on, I am just not sure how comfortable he was rushing from the right. Going against Tyron Smith is never easy, because he is going to eliminate any moves you try. Russell was unable capture the edge like he did during those practices at Valley Ranch. I need to keep an eye on his progress as he continues to get work there. I do think it's good the coaches have the confidence that they could move him over there and give that a try.
- We have learned over these last two seasons how important it is to keep Tony Romo upright with the best protection possible. Rod Smith learned that lesson during blitz period when he bounced too far to the outside trying to help Doug Free, instead of staying inside to protect the "B" gap. Anthony Hitchens would have had a clean run at Romo as Smith was too late to adjust back inside. Smith knew he was wrong as soon as he saw Hitchens there.
- Justin Durant spent the majority of his snaps in practice at middle linebacker. Andrew Gachkar was on the field with him playing strong side, while Derek Akunne was on the weak side – which was the makeup of the second linebacker group. There is a side of me that believes that we will see Durant at all three linebacker spots, but to be honest, I am surprised he played as much as he did at Mike. This might be their overall plan to push Hitchens along.
- I wonder if we are going to see this trend continue or if it is just the way this practice went, but Kellen Moore loves to throw the ball to the tight ends. Gavin Escobar and Geoff Swaim did a nice job of getting open on several snaps for good gains and Moore put the ball right on them. On a side note, Escobar is moving better than he was pre-injury. There is some flow to his game without the stiffness or tightness we've seen in the past.
- In watching Andy Jones practice, he tries really hard to execute the technique that Derek Dooley is asking of him -- exploding up the field, sinking his hips and making his cut. Jones is not gifted with much speed or quickness, and at the end of the day, it might be his downfall. I believe his hands are going to give him a chance to make this team. He knows how to extend them in order to make a catch. You never see the ball get to his body. There is confidence in the way he plays.
- For a guy that missed all of the offseason, Ronald Leary came back in outstanding shape physically. He has totally remade his body, shedding the extra weight he has carried in the past. Right now, Leary is running behind La'el Collins but there is no question he would be ready play if needed.