Scout's Eye: Week 1 observations

August, 2, 2010
8/02/10
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As the first week of training camp for the Cowboys comes to a close, Scout’s Eye wanted to take a look back at some of the developments that have taken place here in San Antonio.

*One of the precamp questions centered around the position switch of offensive tackle, Doug Free from the right side to the left and how much of an adjustment that would be.

The first two practices were a struggle for Free to say the least. Free was working hard on his own to try and correctly get his “kick slide” working in order to get the proper depth and width when taking on defenders such as DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, who are two of the better pass rushers in the NFL.

[+] EnlargeDoug Free
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezDoug Free is making progress during camp in his transition to left tackle.
After his initial problems of giving up the corner too quickly, Free has been able to play with solid technique to match his smarts and effort.

One of Free’s finest moments came on a one-on-one pass rush rep that he was able to execute against Ware. Off the snap, Ware tried several pass rush moves to throw Free off and try to get him off balance but was unsuccessful. Free showed nice patience and punch by making Ware have to restart his rush thus killing his chances of making a sack.

*Can a rookie really be this good? In wide receiver Dez Bryant’s case, the answer is “yes.”

From the time that he has stepped foot on the practice field here in San Antonio, Bryant has been electric.

There were questions about his timed speed (4.56), but watching him run routes and gain separation on defensive backs will make you forget what that 40 time was. There are players that time fast and there are those players that play fast. Bryant is one of those guys that plays fast.

Bryant appeared to be picking up what Jason Garrett and the offensive coaches were asking him to do. Just saw more teaching than correction from receivers coach Ray Sherman.

Bryant’s hands and ability to adjust to the football are a quarterback’s best friend. Very impressed by the way he has been able to adjust to the football in full stride.

The downside to all this is that Bryant will spend the next 4-6 weeks nursing a high ankle sprain. Hurt near the end of practice on Saturday, I worry about Bryant missing reps in the offense and the opportunity to work with Romo.

This trainer staff is one of the best in the NFL, so there is some hope for the Cowboys that he could be back on the field sooner than later.

*In my view, replacing Ken Hamlin at safety for the Cowboys was the absolute right move.

You can say what you want about lining guys up and being a great teammate. The bottom line for a defensive back is to make plays. It’s about covering receivers, knocking down passes and creating turnovers. It’s about having the ability to cover ground and get to the football.

Alan Ball has done a nice job at free safety and for that matter, Mike Hamlin has as well. I have been impressed by the movement skill of Ball along with the way that he has shown the ability to play the ball in the air.

Sunday, when tired legs set in for the skill guys, Ball still looked quick in his drills and in the way he reacted. In talking to guys like Newman, Jenkins and Scandrick, to a man they couldn’t be happier to have a safety that can play with some range.

*Can these five preseason games shake out some depth inside at both the offense and defensive lines? This is a question that will take the remainder of the camp to answer.

On the offensive side, I don’t see a quality backup at center. Bright has his limitations as does Costa.

On defense, injuries have taken practice time away from Brent and Lissemore. As good as Jay Ratliff is, he cannot play the entire game. Junior Siavii gives you great effort and desire but for being a strong guy, he struggles to get off blocks and has no pass rush moves to speak of. I am very interested to see Brent get the opportunity to try and replace Siavii because there is something there.

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