Tuesday, June 09, 2009

DMN Blog: OTA observation deck

By Tim MacMahon/Blogger

Some of this will be repeats for the Twitter crowd, but here goes ...

*The defense, which was working on blitz packages, pretty much dominated the team drills. The offense was sloppy -- miscommunication/blown routes, jumping offsides, botched snaps with the backups, etc.

*The stars of the day were DBs Alan Ball and Courtney Brown. Seriously. Ball had a pick (right) and played well as the first-team free safety with Ken Hamlin missing for personal reasons. Brown had two pretty pass breakups, including one in man coverage vs. Roy Williams on a deep ball from Tony Romo. More on these guys later.

*Tashard Choice took his turn as the "Razorback" trigger man. It's a role he played some at Georgia Tech. More to come on this, too.

*Undrafted rookie Kevin Ogletree was working as the No. 3 WR with Miles Austin (hamstring), Sam Hurd (quad), Isaiah Stanback (knee that had surgery) and Travis Wilson (knee that might require surgery) missing. It was a mixed bag for Ogletree, who had a couple drops but also made a couple of nice catches, one in heavy traffic.

*Seventh-round WR Manuel Johnson got behind Terence Newman for a long TD late in the practice, but blitzing SS Gerald Sensabaugh probably would have had a sack on the play. Coincidentally (or not), Johnson got laid out by S Pat Watkins the next play, which ended the supposedly non-contact practice. The DBs' story was that Watkins was making a play on the ball, and they're sticking to it.

(Photo by Michael Ainsworth / DMN)

*Offensive play of the day: A sweet one-handed snatch by coachable WR Roy Williams on a pass across the middle. Jon Kitna was the QB. "He makes an outstanding play almost every day," Wade Phillips said of Williams. "The catch he made today was spectacular, but we expect him to do that."

*We got a glimpse of the Marion Barber/Felix Jones I formation, something the Cowboys tinkered with last summer but rarely used during the regular season. Barber got a play-fake on a dive behind the right guard, then Tony Romo flicked a counter pitch to Jones, who scooted around the left end.

*When the offense was working against air, TE Martellus Bennett dropped a pass. That prompted Jason Witten to holler, "C'mon now!" in an encouraging tone. Bennett didn't drop another ball all practice. He made a tough, twisting catch on an out while barely getting both feet in bounds during team drills.

*Witten isn't perfect, either. He committed a false start, prompting Jason Garrett to replace him for a play, something that has been happening on a regular basis with offensive players who jump. But RT Marc Colombo wasn't having any of it, shoving Robert Brewster out of the way when the rookie tried to replace Colombo after a false start. There appeared to be an issue with Romo's cadence, as Kitna replaced him for a couple of snaps with the starters.

*The Cowboys twice tried to run a TE screen with Martellus Bennett, who is extremely elusive for a 6-6, 265-pound dude. On the first one, Bennett got caught in traffic and didn't get out to the flat. On the second, Newman sniffed it out and met Bennett in the backfield. Of course, in live action, Bennett might have treated Newman like a speed bump.

*Some other guys who weren't there or sat out: DE Igor Olshansky (back), OLB Brandon Williams (shoulder), LB Stephen Hodge (calf).