Sunday, August 03, 2008

DMN Blog: Live from Oxnard XIV: T.O., Jason Witten and Zach Thomas get day off

by Tim MacMahon

Weather: 72 degrees and partly cloudy.

We've got a nice crowd out here for the final weekend practice of camp. The fans are the primary reason rumors of Wade Phillips canceling this practice were silly. You think Jerry was gonna give up a Sunday SoCal showcase?

I'll tell a nice little Jerry story before we focus on today's practice. A security guard took a ball away from a fan after it was knocked into the stands during yesterday afternoon's practice. Jerry saw it, grabbed a couple footballs and walked across the field. He gave one ball to that fan and tossed another up for grabs into the crowd.

Smart marketing? Sure, but a nice gesture nevertheless. It's also proof that Jerry doesn't just care about the fans who fork over big bucks for PSLs.

OK, follow the jump and refresh as often as you feel like on this beautful Sunday afternoon ...

4:23 -- Helmets and shoulder pads today. Not sure whether Greg Ellis, who has dressed out but mainly watched the last few practices with a sore back, will do a whole lot.

4:33 -- The three injured CBs still aren't practicing. Terence Newman (groin) might not practice again in Oxnard. Alan Ball (ankle) hopes to be back in the next day or two. Not sure about the status of Quincy Butler (hamstring). ... Stretching just started.

4:35 -- T.O., Jason Witten and Zach Thomas aren't out there. No need to worry. Just a few seasoned veterans getting some rest in the middle of the training camp grind.

4:40 -- Pretty actress sighting: Wade Phillips' daughter, Tracy, is here along with his wife, Laurie. ... Stretching over. Defense doing position drills. Offense running plays vs. air. Tony Curtis is working as the TE with the starters. They're in a three-wide set, so Miles Austin and Sam Hurd are out there with Patrick Crayton.

4:44 -- To answer the question about Mike Jenkins, he's had his moments, both good and bad. I learned last year not to overreact to CBs' work on 1-on-1s. Anthony Henry looked horrible in those drills in the Alamodome and then played at a Pro Bowl level until getting hurt. There will be a learning curve for Jenkins, who should only play in nickel and dime situations as a rookie. ... Can't make the comparsion to Terence Newman's rookie training camp, because I was covering the North Texas Mean Green at the time. I do recall CB "Neon" Don McGee looking great in Denton that summer.

4:51 -- QBs and WRs are working on inside-the-5 routes. They didn't have to move Rowdy's tricked-out four-wheeler out of the way today. ... Wonder whether Romo will get a day off at any point? I saw him with a big bag of ice on his throwing arm after yesterday morning's practice, but that's not unusual. Unlike the three vets that are resting today, Romo doesn't have a young backup who could use the extra reps.

4:54 -- Comments are getting a little too lovey-dovey for my tastes. Is the Texas heat turning you folks into a bunch of softies? ... Hopefully, we'll get some action here at the top of the hour.

4:59 -- I'll let you know about the inside LB rotation once we see it. The defense is still doing position drills. I assume that Kevin Burnett and Bobby Carpenter will split the reps that Zach Thomas usually gets.

5:01 -- Action about to start. 7-on-7 coming my way. ... Kevin Burnett starts out at weakside ILB.

5:03 -- Bobby Carpenter replaced Burnett after one play. That might have been because C Andre Gurode and Burnett exchanged post-play jabs to the face mask. They got heated after Gurode picked up Burnett on the blitz. ... Anthony Henry had good coverage on quick slant to Sam Hurd and would have made the tackle immediately after the catch. ... Tony Romo hit Martellus Bennett on a 5-yard out. They were in a two-TE set. ... Miles Austin caught a short pass outside the hashmarks and turned upfield before Carpenter could get there. ... Bennett is getting reps with the starting O in one-TE sets. ... Great catch by Sam Hurd, getting his tippy-toes in before falling backwards out of bounds. Adam "Pacman" Jones had good coverage on the go route, and Romo intentionally underthrew the ball to give Hurd a chance to make a play.

5:07 -- Evan Oglesby gave up catches on back-to-back plays -- a Romo-to-Isaiah Stanback comeback and a Brad Johnson-to-Patrick Crayton out ... Hurd stumbled coming out of his break on a comeback route. Good coverage by Mike Jenkins. ... Miles Austin dropped a pass right into his hands. He got inside Anthony Henry on a slant. ... Burnett is getting most of the reps with the first-team D. ... He just came flying up the middle against the third-team O and would have had an easy sack.

5:11 -- Evan Oglesby did push-ups after dropping a pick. Lined up in the slot, he read Richard Bartel's eyes and jumped a hook route by TE Drew Atchison. ... Oglesby just got beat for a long TD by Miles Austin, who did a nice job of using his big frame to shield the CB on a corner route. Tony Romo's pass was perfect. ... Justin Rogers is getting reps at OLB again. He just got good pressure. Romo rolled right and threw the ball away. ... Greg Ellis is a spectator again.

5:14 -- Coach T.O. is standing by Ray Sherman. Looks like T.O. is charting plays. ... Sam Hurd made a leaping catch on an out route that was more spectacular than necessary. He skied on the play, but he caught the ball in his belly. The crowd gave a big, "Oooohhh!" ... Horn sounded.

5:17 -- Special teams work now. Working on punts, but only the gunners (Pat Watkins and Sam Hurd with the 1s) are running downfield. ... Adam "Pacman" Jones and Patrick Crayton are catching punts. T.O. is back there supervising. ... To answer a question, I think the Cowboys will strongly consider keeping six CBs. Terence Newman, Anthony Henry, Pacman and the two draft picks are locks. Evan Oglesby and Alan Ball will probably be on an NFL roster this season.

5:20 -- Stu J, I assure you any Heisman I gave you was unintentional. Had I known you wanted to talk to me, I would have at least alerted security. ... Hard to say which TE took better advantage of Witten's absence, since I can't tell you how they did with blocking assignments, whether they ran the right routes, etc. Neither one caught a pass longer than 5 yards.

5:23 -- Mat McBriar was working on directional punts until letting training camp leg Jay Ottovegio get in there. McBriar had one ugly one (way, way out of bounds) and one beauty (a high, long boomer that landed about a foot inside the sideline).

5:26 -- Horn sounded. Looks like we're gonna get some goal-to-go work headed right at me.

5:28 -- Burnett began the drills at WILB with the starters. ... Two-TE set for the offense. ... TE Martellus Bennett caught a short out on the first play. He might have scored if he could have broken a Ken Hamlin tackle at the 5. ... Second play was a pass to Marion Barber in the flat. ... Mike Jenkins held Sam Hurd on a zig-zag out.

5:31 -- Anthony Henry broke up a pass to Sam Hurd in the back corner of the end zone. Hurd skied to get both hands on the ball, but Henry ripped it loose on the way down. ... Jay Ratliff gave Felix Jones a pretty good shot on a draw inside the 5. ... Burnett took all the first-team reps at WILB. Bobby Carpenter is in there now with the second team. ... Tashard Choice scored on a 10-yard counter.

5:34 -- Patrick Crayton scored on a slant from Brad Johnson. Looked like Adam "Pacman" Jones expected safety help ... Justin Rogers and Tearrius George are getting second-team reps at OLB. That's not a good sign for sixth-round pick Erik Walden. ... DE Jason Hatcher showed good athleticism, getting in Johnson's face on a bootleg and batting the ball down. ... Pacman and Pat Watkins had Mark Bradford sandwiched in the back of the end zone, forcing Richard Bartel to throw the ball away.

5:36 -- Rogers moved to SILB with the 3s. Tony Curtis caught an out on him the first play and might have scored. ... Nice job by Bobby Carpenter staying in front of Felix Jones in the open field. Jones tried to juke Carpenter after catching a swing pass. ... Horn sounded.

5:40 -- Working on kickoff return/coverage. Everything is half-speed.