Monday, August 04, 2008

DMN Blog: Live from Oxnard XV: No Flo or T.O.

by Tim MacMahon

Weather: 67 and partly cloudy.

There's a sewage-like stench wafting over the Cowboys' training camp complex this morning. I believe Brian "Crash" Davis brought it with him, but I don't have proof quite yet. We'll fight through it to deliver another day's worth of hardcore football coverage.

Follow the jump and refresh as often as you feel like ...

11:02 -- CB Alan Ball has returned after missing several days with a sprained left ankle. Evan Oglesby took advantage of Ball's absence. That's one of the better battles for a roster spot -- if the Cowboys decide to keep six cornerbacks.

11:05 -- Stretching just started.

11:08 -- Media celebrity sighting: Tim Cowlishaw, ESPN dude and longtime DMN superstar columnist, has arrived. T-Cow has also joined the blogosphere and will have plenty of Cowboys nuggets in his new cyberspace.

11:12 -- Stretching over. Position drills for defense, plays vs. air for offense. ... No Flozell Adams or T.O. with the first unit. They're getting another day off. ... Terence Newman (groin) and Quincy Butler (hamstring) are still out. ... TE Jason Witten and LB Zach Thomas are back out there after getting a day off yesterday.

11:22 -- We'll answer some questions while waiting for things to get going. ... Wade Phillips said TE Martellus Bennett has been executing the plays properly, which is the most important thing. He has had several drops and has yet to take the No. 2 TE spot from Tony Curtis. Wade shrugged off a question about Bennett's laidback attitude, noting that there have been a lot of great players who weren't real fiery. "Earl Campbell was the slowest guy getting up after a run that I've ever been around," Wade said, "but he was the slowest guy going down, too." ... I've heard the Marcus Spears as trade bait speculation, but I'd be surprised if something happened before the season. It's not like you're going to get an elite WR for him, and the Cowboys don't want to give up anything for a backup QB. Spears hasn't blossomed into a star, but I wouldn't call him a first-round bust, either. He led the Cowboys D-linemen in TFLs last season. ... The coaching staff doesn't share the practice plans with me, so I can't say whether we'll see more of the two-back shotgun look today. As far as the primary kick returner goes, they're looking at a lot of guys, but I'd be willing to bet that that job will go to one of the Jones guys (Pacman or Felix).

11:29 -- I probably should mention that the Cowboys are wearing helmets but no pads this morning. No hitting. ... Former Forney High OT Brian "Crash" Davis is focusing on the big fellas this morning. He's checking out the DL, which is working on hand position and getting through blocks at half speed. ... RG Leonard "Bigg" Davis briefly left the field. Believe it was a bathroom break. ... Flozell Adams, wearing shorts and a T-shirt, has arrived on the practice field.

11:33 -- Horn sounded, so the action is about to start. I'm headed for the field. Be back in a bit with highlights.

11:40 -- They're going half-speed in 11-on-11, so forget about any highlights. ... OLB Greg Ellis is participating in team drills after watching those the last few practices. ... LT Doug Free, filling in for Flozell Adams, had a false start.

11:49 -- Horn sounded. Time for half-speed special teams drills! ... Peter King leads off with Tony Romo in today's Monday Morning Quarterback.

11:54 -- OK, there are a lot of questions/concerns about Martellus Bennett. I'd like to at least let the kid play a preseason game before we slap the bust label on him, but I understand that you folks want some answers/info about him. Instead of speculating, I'll try to track down TE coach John Garrett today. I will say that it shouldn't be a big surprise that a kid who left Texas A&M early is experiencing some bumps in the road during his rookie training camp. He's still 6-6, 260 pounds and athletic, but I'm not sure whether he'll get playing time over Touchdown Tony Curtis this season.

11:59 -- One more thing about Bennett: An offensive teammate I talked to yesterday believes that the second-round pick is thinking too much and has taken a confidence hit. The teammate's thought was that Bennett was worried about making sure every step is right instead of just playing football. ... More half-speed 11-on-11 action.

12:03 -- SS Courtney Brown continues to get the first-team reps in the nickel package. It's looking more and more like Pat Watkins will be solely a special teams player. I still think Watkins' roster spot is safe, since he led the team in special teams tackles last season. ... CB Alan Ball got the first-team reps in the slot. Interesting, considering Evan Oglesby performed well while Ball was sidelined with a sprained ankle. Once Terence Newman is healthy, he'll be in the slot with Adam "Pacman" Jones and Mike Jenkins outside in that package. ... In the base defense, Jay Ratliff was working at DE with Marcus Spears at NT.

12:09 -- Adam "Pacman" Jones is working at left CB (Terence Newman's spot) with the first-team base D. The Cowboys think Newman will be recovered from his groin strain well before the regular-season opener. But if that isn't the case, I can't imagine first-rounder Mike Jenkins starting over Pacman.

12:13 -- Horn sounded, so the excitement of half-speed team drills is over for now. ... Looks like we're in for more special teams fun. ... To answer a question about Nick Folk's kickoffs, he's been pretty consistently around the 5-yard line when letting loose. I can't really tell whether his hang time has improved. I do know that improving kickoffs was Folk's primary offseason focus.

12:16 -- The Hugs Lady has added some spice to practice. She always shows up for some training camp and is known for her impressive vocal cords, enthusiasm and warm embraces when she can get her hands on a Cowboy. She's screaming and hollering at the players by name. Several of them have responded by smiling and waving. A Hard Knocks cameraman and microphone-holding dude made sure to catch her in action.

12:22 -- Regarding Michael Lombardi's take on the Cowboys having five good tackles, I'd like to know who the fifth is. I'm not trying to be sarcastic, but Pat McQuistan and Doug Free get all the reps with the second team except for when a starter is resting. I don't see the Cowboys wanting to trade either of those guys, especially with Marc Colombo entering the last season of his contract. ... Working on kick return. Miles Austin and Isaiah Stanback are getting reps as returners, along with Danny Amendola, Mike Jenkins and the Joneses.

12:29 -- They're gonna do some goal-line work. I'm headed to the field. Be back after practice.

1:14 -- It was actually a drive that started with the offense's back to the goal line, not goal line work. All half-speed. Nothing exciting to report. That's a wrap for this practice. Back to regularly scheduled blogging.