Tuesday, June 09, 2009

ESPN Mosley: The unauthorized Cowboys' OTA Report

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

CARROLLTON, Texas -- For obvious reasons, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones chose not to speak to reporters gathered at Tuesday's organized team activities at Standridge Stadium. Jones set off a firestorm early Sunday morning when he told Fort Worth Star-Telegram beat writer Clarence E. Hill that he was still interested in cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones.

Calvin Watkins of AOL Fanhouse reported Monday that Pacman is still living in a home in Prosper, Texas, owned by Jerry. On Monday, Jerry Jones tried to put a lid on the story by saying he wasn't interested in re-signing the player at this time. But for now, let's move away from the humorous Pacman subplot and focus on Tuesday's OTA session. Here's the Beast report:

The Cowboys continue to work on their "Razorback" formation, which is an answer to the Dolphins' popular "Wildcat" formation. Last week, the Cowboys had Patrick Crayton playing quarterback in the offense. But on Tuesday, Tashard Choice lined up as the quarterback. I still think Jones would be the point man, but Choice showed some excellent quickness after taking the direct snap.

There has to be at least a little concern that wide receivers Miles Austin and Sam Hurd are having a tough time staying on the field. Austin (hamstring) did some light running on the side and Hurd (quad) continues to miss time because of injuries. Both players have missed significant time in the regular-season because of injuries, so this is something we should keep an eye on. But Patrick Crayton hasn't missed a day of practice and he seems motivated to win the No. 2 spot that has sort of been handed to Miles Austin by folks who cover the team on a regular basis. Crayton told me that all the talk of him not being the No. 2 guy anymore has served as "fuel" to motivate him this offseason. He still thinks of himself as a starter -- and he caught everything thrown his way Tuesday.

Let me be as diplomatic as possible here: The offense was atrocious during Tuesday's session. Tony Romo barely had time to get off a pass, and when he did, the ball was dropped by wide receivers. I guess we should expect some of this when a free-agent rookie named Kevin Ogletree is the No. 3 receiver. But still, there are far too many mistakes. All-Pro tight end Jason Witten had a false start and right tackle Marc Colombo joined him a few plays later. But when Jason Garrett tried to repace him with rookie right tackle Robert Brewster, Colombo told the rookie to get lost.
The Tony Romo to Roy Williams connection is still a work in progress. On one play, Williams ran a post route, but Romo threw a corner route about 15 yards away from him. On the positive side, Williams reached out and snagged a bullet from Jon Kitna with one hand during team drills.

Former first-round pick Bobby Carpenter received shouts of praise from linebackers coach Reggie Herring when he made a nice recovery on a naked bootleg play on which Romo was trying to hit Martellus Bennett.

Superb efforts by reserve safeties Courtney Brown and Alan Ball. Especially Brown. He's been sidelined with injuries for a couple weeks, but he came back Tuesday and made plays all over the field. On a deep ball to Williams, Brown used perfect technique to knock it away at the last second. And it wasn't like he had a great angle on the ball. He was covering Williams step for step down the field. Secondary coach Dave Campo raced over to offer Brown a high five. Later in a team drill, Brown showed great closing speed to knock the ball away from Felix Jones. Safeties coach Brett Maxie told me after practice that Brown was the MVP of Tuesday's session. With the depth at safety, I have a really hard time seeing Pat Watkins making this final roster. One more thing at safety: A long shot named Michael Hawkins flashed quite a bit Tuesday. He's a former Oklahoma player who was drafted by the Packers. I don't think there's a place on the roster for him, but he was pretty solid today.

Tight end Martellus Bennett is drawing rave reviews from my guys in the scouting community. It's almost impossible for safeties and linebackers to cover him. And he's starting to use his size to his advantage. It's pretty startling to see a 265-pound guy come out of break and absolutely lose a safety.

Former Sooner Manuel Johnson, a seventh-round pick, beat cornerback Terence Newman on a deep ball down the sideline. But he was destroyed by Watkins in what was supposed to be a non-contact drill.

With Ken Hamlin out for an excused absence, Ball and Gerald Sensabaugh lined up together at the starting safety spots.

Rookie safety DeAngelo Smith can cover some serious ground. He wouldn't allow Romo to complete anything in the flat.

The quarterbacks continue to have trouble with the center exchange. It's happened in every open OTA session so far this spring and summer.

I spent some time with DeMarcus Ware for a column I'm writing for Thursday. Hope you'll consider reading that particular piece.

The Major League Baseball draft begins in 30 minutes. The Rangers have the 14th pick. Thanks for your time.