Thursday, August 14, 2008

DMN Blog: Delayed in Denver III: Fight! Fight! Fight!

by Brian Davis

OK, so maybe that headline is a little racy, but there was definitely some helmet-popping going on out there during the Thursday morning practice.

Flozell Adams was throwing guys down during the 9-on-7 inside drill. Then, the big tackle sparked a fracas during the 11-on-11 drills. Mike Jefferson was making nice catches. The Cowboys' fullbacks were having a heck of a timing beating up on people, too.

"I don't think Dallas was used to that type of practice," Broncos cornerback Dre Bly said. "We hit. Those guys finished 13-3 last year, so they probably can afford to relax in practice and coast through certain drills. Us, we went 7-9, so we're on teh ground right now and we're trying to get back up that hill."

Uh-oh. Let's recap the morning, as best we can from memorization and hand-scribbled notes.

Have to admit, it was a cool Colorado morning. Temperatures were in the 70s much like in Oxnard. Excellent practice weather, seemed like to me.

9 a.m.: Just like yesterday, there wasn't much early. The two teams stretched and then went through individual drills. Not much to see here, other than a full Hard Knocks crew was roaming around on the Cowboys sideline. Did everyone get a chance to comment on last night's show?

9:25 a.m.: The teams split up into different drills. I watched the 9-on-7 inside drill between the Cowboys' offensive front vs. the Broncos' defensive front. Right after things got started, former Cowboy Ebenezer Ekuban reached up and got his hand under Adams' facemask. Nice to see you, too, E.

The fullbacks really stood out in this drill. Ronnie Cruz had a great pop on Wesley Woodyard. One Broncos safety bounced right off Keon Lattimore. Deon Anderson smashed into Marquand Manuel for a great pop. Cruz came back with the best hit of the drill -- from the fullback's point of view -- by ramming into Jordan Beck.

About 9:35ish: More special teams work. Same as yesterday. The Broncos worked on field goals, and then the Cowboys worked on punt returns. Danny Amendola was back on the punt return duty, and we're likely to see him again in Saturday's preseason game. If he fumbles again like he did against the Chargers, that won't be pretty.

About 9:50ish: The teams went back to more individual drills. The Cowboys and Broncos' linemen took the south end of the two fields. The Broncos' defensive line had a few problems with the Cowboys' first team offensive line. All the starters handled their man in one-on-one drill with ease.

The second team unit had a few miscues, though. Paul Carrington got past Pat McQuistan by crossing his face and powering through the gap. Josh Mallard frustrated James Marten a little bit. Doug Free did a great job jamming the Broncos' Larry Birdine. Cory Lekkerkerker just flat-out stoned Jarvis Moss.

10:05 a.m.: Time for 11-on-11 drills. Tony Romo and Terrell Owens simply have not been on the same page in recent workouts. I don't know if their timing is off, Romo is just making bad reads or Owens isn't doing what he's supposed to do. But it's been days since the two have hooked up for anything dazzling.

This morning, Romo and Owens looked a little crossed up on a play with a four-wide receiver formation. Romo wanted Owens to motion before the snap. After Owens did just that and ran his route, Romo forced the ball to him and it was intercepted by Dre Bly.

Marion Barber had some solid runs. Tashard Choice caught a pass from Brad Johnson out of the backfield on what looked like a check down. Miles Austin dropped a ball when he had two Broncos closing in for a kill shot. Jason Witten couldn't quite reel in a pass just before stepping out of bounds. Owner Jerry Jones was doing an interview with NFL Network at the time and shouted, "Hey, ref. We've got replay up here!"

The real fireworks of the day came during a rather nondescript play. Adams got tied up with a as-yet-unidentified Broncos player and the two got into a shoving match. Hard to tell who tried to punch first, but Adams pulled the player's helmet off and then swung it like a weapon.

The Cowboys offense and the Broncos defense all swarmed together as everybody tried to restore calm. Practice resumed without a hitch, and no other skirmishes broke out. But let's just say that Steve Sabol will enjoy seeing that footage back in New Jersey. I'm betting we see it on Hard Knocks two weeks from now.