- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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OXNARD, Calif. – As much as the coaches like rookie cornerback Terrance Mitchell’s competitiveness, they’ve consistently yelled at him to stay off the ground during practices.
The seventh-round pick won’t have to hear that Sunday afternoon when the Dallas Cowboys hold the annual Blue-White Scrimmage, which begins at 5:30 p.m. ET and will be televised on KTXA 21 in the Dallas/Fort Worth market.
For the starters, it’s just a situational practice with an emphasis on red-zone and two-minute work. For the rest of the players on the roster, the scrimmage is a chance to prove themselves to the coaches in game-like conditions.
“I’m really excited,” Mitchell said. “I get a chance to finish the plays all the way to the end.”
Other than a handful of goal-line snaps Saturday, the Blue-White Scrimmage is the only time all training camp that the Cowboys will tackle in practice.
The scrimmage gives coaches and scouts a chance to evaluate players who are fighting for roles or roster spots. It also gives the players an opportunity to prepare for Thursday night’s preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers.
“We’ll see those guys really move around and strike each other, like you would in a ballgame, for the first time,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “We always felt like that gave them a good kind of wake-up call prior to the game on Thursday night, so we like the timing of it. It gives them a chance to show what they can do in a competitive situation when coaches are on the sideline and you’re out there. It’s not a scripted play or a scripted defensive call and you’re just playing. See how they respond.”
This represents a hurdle of sorts for running back Ryan Williams, who hasn’t participated in any real football since last year’s preseason opener, as he was inactive all 16 games for the Arizona Cardinals as he continued to rehab from a serious knee injury.
Williams, who is battling Joseph Randle as the third running back, wasn’t certain about the details of the scrimmage. When informed about he’d have full-contact reps, he smiled.
“I think I’m 100 percent mentally ready for it,” Williams said. “I’ve just got to go out there and do it, get hit a couple of times. Any football player will tell you that you’ve got to get bumped a couple of times just to get your feet wet. I probably just got to get bumped a couple more times, get my feet wet and get ready to go. I’m excited, man. Words can’t describe.”