Some thoughts from the practice field in Oxnard:
- There have been players that no matter what day it was in game, that they were going to have an outstanding day. DeMarcus Ware and Sean Lee first come to mind but in his 11th campaign, you would feel like that Jason Witten would not be up to the task every single day but that never is the case. I could write about how he plays every single day in these practices but it wouldn't be fair to the other players on this field here in Oxnard.
In my view, Jason Witten rarely has a bad practice and even when you see him struggle a little bit with a reach block, he makes two catches in the red zone with Sean Lee hanging on him that were incredible. Witten has always been a thinking man's player with tremendous talent. In these practices I have seen him run routes setting up defenders that I know he will run in regular season games that will buy him space. Witten has always run routes with a purpose, there is no wasted motion when you watch him play. He is a nightmare to try and cover down the field, just ask Barry Church or Sean Lee who have to deal with his daily. The reason this offensive coaching staff can emphasis playing with this "12" personnel package, is because there is no slippage in Witten's game because he is as rare as they come in this league.
- Jason Garrett reminds us every day that injury is part of the game and the next man steps up to handle the job but this MRI on Ronald Leary's knee has to give this front office and coaching staff some concern. The soreness in Leary's knee is not the one he had in college but his healthy one. For Leary who missed the early portions of camp and returned to practice taking over the left guard spot and has played well enough to believe that he was going to be in that job on a full time basis.
Leary has been steady with his work with Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick. He has shown power and also when he has been asked to play in space, he has shown the ability to finish his blocks. The hope for this club that it is nothing serious and rest is the best medicine but if it is a condition that is more severe, that would be a huge blow for a group that was starting to put some consistency in their play.
- There is always going to be a rookie player that struggles with the adjustments from college ball to NFL training camp but you know deep down inside, that one day, those struggles will be a thing of the past. B.W. Webb is that player for me. There is not much that is being said or written in this camp about the way that he is playing from folks but trust me, I have been in those meeting rooms before, Webb has talent and there are times where he is doing his job the right way. If you honestly studied him down after down in a practice, he is not struggling as bad as everyone thinks he is. What Webb is going through now is common for the majority of rookie corners playing in this league.
Even the great Patrick Peterson had his moments in Arizona where he gave up big play after big play. I am not trying to make excuses for Webb but also think about what he is trying to do in this camp by learning an outside position but playing the nickel or slot corner as well which is no easy task. I did see a rep during practice on Tuesday where he carried this club's best receiver down the field on a vertical "9" route running stride for stride with him and covering him so well that Romo didn't even attempt the throw the ball. Has Webb had his struggles? Yes, he has but to make the suggestion that he shouldn't be on this team is completely out of line. He is a talented football player and one day, he will show everyone that.
- Depending who you visit with, there is differing views on what the best area of concern for this squad might be. There is the depth at safety, or in the defensive line but the place I would like to focus on once again is that swing offensive tackle and on Tuesday for the first time in camp we were able to see both Jermey Parnell and Demetress Bell get work. For Parnell it was bitter sweet in the fact that he was back on the field but it wasn't much sooner and not in direct competition with Doug Free.
In my view, Free has taken this job going away and Parnell not much to his own fault has had to stand by and watch him do it. What was encourage on Tuesday about his work is that despite some rust, he was able to make it physically through the practice and even for some reps play with some snap along the line of scrimmage but get out in space on the edge and make some quality contact on the move. He didn't appear to labor or struggle in his movement or condition. For Bell, he did appear rusty and off balance at times playing on the left side but for the most part, his effort was good and he wasn't beaten badly on his technique much like we had observed him in Philadelphia where his game was a mess at both left and right tackle.
This squad needs Jermey Parnell to round himself into the form where he was when he was splinting reps with Free in December. The coaches had confidence in him then but he once again, needs to get that trust level back but Tuesday was a good start.