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Sunday, July 21, 2013
Cowboys practice report: Day 1

By Calvin Watkins

OXNARD, Calif. -- Here's our daily practice report.


• The Dallas Cowboys most likely lost backup defensive end Tyrone Crawford for the season with a torn left Achilles tendon. Crawford suffered the injury while going through the tackling dummies. He was carted off the field. When the swelling goes down, he will undergo surgery.

Dallas also lost starting defensive end Anthony Spencer, who tweaked his knee. Spencer said he hurt the knee during Saturday's conditioning test but tried to practice on Sunday. Spencer suffered a hyperextended left knee during offseason workouts, and it's still bothering him. Crawford and Spencer weren't alone in missing practice. Ryan Cook (conditioning test), Nate Livings (foot), Mackenzy Bernadeau (hamstring), Demetress Bell (conditioning test), L.P. Ladouceur (calf), Lavasier Tuinei (conditioning test) and Jay Ratliff (hamstring) didn't practice as well.

• Before Crawford was injured, he was the second-team defensive end along with Kyle Wilber. Ben Bass and Nick Hayden were the defensive tackles. With Crawford out, Monte Taylor took over for Crawford and did a nice job on a few plays. Taylor flushed quarterback Kyle Orton out of the pocket on the pass rush. Taylor also got a good push on tackle Jermey Parnell to make a tackle on a run play.

Tony Romo made his debut of sorts on Sunday. It was the first time Romo has thrown a pass since the end of the regular season. Romo missed offseason practices due to his recovery from surgery to remove a cyst. Romo's weight has been a subject of debate the past 48 hours, but he moved pretty well in the pocket when the pressure got to him. Yet, on his first 11-on-11 session in the afternoon practice, Romo went 1-3 to start. Terrance Williams hurt him with a drop. On Romo's second series, Romo went 2-6 with an interception. A tipped pass was picked off by inside linebacker Sean Lee. But it wasn't all bad for Romo. He did a fine job with the play fakes, holding the ball close to the running back until the last possible second, then either pulling it back or handing off. Romo made a good throw to Dez Bryant on a comeback route near the sidelines. Romo threw with a good zip on the ball for most of the day.

• Running backs coach Gary Brown said rookie running back Joseph Randle will be brought along slowly because he missed the entire offseason recovering from thumb surgery. The running back rotation is as follows: DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar, Phillip Tanner and Randle. Randle runs hard and finds his running lanes quickly, but you can tell he's a little rusty. He dropped a screen pass from quarterback Alex Tanney because he was in such a hurry to make a play.

• Sometimes, we forget about slot cornerback Orlando Scandrick. He's got a difficult job of covering speedy receivers such as the New York Giants' Victor Cruz in tight man coverage. Matched up one-on-one against Bryant, Scandrick knocked down a deep pass from Romo. While Bryant might have had a step on Scandrick, it didn't matter because he stayed close enough to reach his hand out to knock the pass away.

• Jason Garrett said there will be competition for the No. 2 tight end spot, and, for now, James Hanna has the lead. He was paired with Jason Witten in the first 12 personnel groupings. Hanna made a nice catch with a man draped over him during 11-on-11 and became a reliable target for Romo on Sunday.

• Please don't say Garrett is rooting for the offense to just make plays. After Romo threw a pass away due to tight coverage, Garrett said, "nice job, D." Garrett spent his first day as the walk-around head coach still involved in the offense by barking out orders and monitoring things while Bill Callahan conversed with Romo. Garrett also talked with defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. When Dwayne Harris ran a bad route, Garrett got on the receiver, too.

• The morning walkthrough practice had these combinations/replacements: Sean Lissemore replaced Ratliff at defensive tackle with the first team, Will Allen and Barry Church were the first-team safeties, Caleb McSurdy received time with the second team at linebacker. On offense, David Arkin and Kevin Kowalski were the first-team guards.