OXNARD, Calif. – We watched one final day of practices in no pads on Tuesday. As nice as it's been to get back into the practice routine, it'll be that much better to put the pads on Wednesday and watch real football.
Before that happens, here are some notes from Tuesday evening's work:
- I've been hopeful to see Taco Charlton present some problems for Tyron Smith, and in the blitz period, he was able to do just that. Charlton put his left hand in Smith's chest and extended it in order to keep Smith's hands off him. Once he had Smith under control, Charlton was able to quickly attack his edge and execute a quality rush. This was a real step in the right direction because during the OTAs and minicamps, Charlton didn't sniff a pressure against the All-Pro left tackle.
- Good to see Cole Beasley back with his quickness. Beasley had been struggling with sore hamstrings but it appears that the rest before camp did him some good. Working out of his customary slot position, Beasley slow played off the line, while Jason Witten and Dez Bryant cleared the area to his side. Once Witten and Bryant were done, Beasley drove hard inside on Anthony Hitchens to his left. Once he felt Hitchens commitment to the inside, he planted and whirled back to his right, leaving Hitchens in a trailing position. Dak Prescott was able to lead Beasley away from Hitchens with an easy pitch and catch.
- On our "Talkin' Cowboys" podcast, the group brought up the possibility of Chidobe Awuzie playing more positions than just cornerback. During the first couple of practices, Awuzie has played mainly on the outside at corner but also in the slot as well. What I did notice -- and I had seen this during mini-camp -- was him also lining up as a dime (six defensive backs) linebacker near the line of scrimmage. At 202 pounds, the coaching staff must feel like Awuzie can hold up against the run -- but more importantly, help with any coverage underneath or out of the slot.
- The coaches have to like what they've seen from Dak Prescott throwing the ball in the middle of the field from the pocket. In these two practices, he hit Dez Bryant and Brice Butler on deep "in" routes where the ball was in a perfect spot. Neither receiver had to even so much as adjust their stride in order to secure the catch.
- I will be interested how David Irving comes out and practices in pads on Wednesday. To be honest, he hasn't been his normal, disruptive self in these practices. I believed coming into these practices with the suspension ahead, that he would be hard to deal with but that just hasn't been the case. He is allowing blockers to get into his body far too often and it's causing him problems on his rush. He's not attacking them with the same intensity that we came to appreciate from him last season. He's too good not to be causing problems.
- I've been noticing Damontre Moore playing some as a standup defensive end. I first saw this in minicamp and it's now carried over in these first two practices. Moore will usually have his hand in the dirt and lined up wide rushing the passer. What the coaches might be thinking about scheme-wise as a strong side linebacker in certain situations? He has the athletic ability and frame to handle the job.
- Kadeem Edwards has been backing up Tyron Smith at left tackle. I initial thought he would need to be a right tackle because of his feet. To my surprise, he's actually shown some good initial quickness out of his stance. He had a really nice blitz pickup on the outside where he picked up Anthony Brown coming on the slot blitz to his side. That's a tough block for a tackle to make to kick and slide that far to the edge to deal with a skill player in space.
- The club got some good news in the domestic violence case against Jourdan Lewis when a jury ruled in his favor. The Cowboys are hopeful Lewis can be ready for practice on Wednesday. Lewis had been working in Dallas up until his court date, so conditioning should not be a problem. With this ordeal behind him, he can now focus on his job of winning a starting spot in this secondary where the front office is extremely high on him.