Dallas Cowboys: 2014 NFL Training Camp Report

Cowboys Camp Report: Day 22

August, 14, 2014
OXNARD, Calif. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Dallas Cowboys training camp:
  • The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge made it to camp and Jason Garrett accepted. Challenged by Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones and his brother, John, the former Cowboys' assistant and now offensive coordinator at Oregon State, Garrett stood in front of his team and dumped a bucket of ice over his head. "It's fun to be a part of it," a soaked Garrett said. "It's not real fun right now ... It's pretty cold." Garrett passed the challenge on to Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly as well as Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden. They have 24 hours to accept. "You know Coach Coughlin has already done it I guess so he would've been in the mix," Garrett said. "So just challenge those guys in our division. They're great guys. I know them well and I respect them both so let's make them uncomfortable the next 24 hours."
  • The Cowboys went through their lightest practice of training camp since July 25, with it mostly serving as preparation for Saturday's game against the Baltimore Ravens at AT&T Stadium. The early part of the practice was a lot like the first two days of camp, in which the offense and defense went through separate team and individual drills without pads. The team drills were run against "cards," featuring the looks they will receive from the Ravens on Saturday night.
  • New cornerback Justin Green practiced for the first time since being acquired in a trade from the New England Patriots. With Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne not playing against the Ravens and Sterling Moore's status potentially up in the air because of a groin injury, Green will get some playing time. He will get the benefit that the corner he replaced on the roster, Korey Lindsey, did not. Lindsey did not practice with the team before playing against the San Diego Chargers on Aug. 7 and he gave up a long touchdown pass. Lindsey has since been waived/injured with a broken hand.
  • Carr has yet to work in pads after missing the first 13 days of training camp as he dealt with the loss of his mother, Kathy, but he had his most extensive on-field conditioning work as he went through drills with strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik off to the side. The expectation is that Carr will work in full pads next week and possibly play Aug. 23 against the Miami Dolphins.
  • The Cowboys will have a brief walkthrough on Friday at 8 a.m. PT before boarding a plane for Dallas for Saturday's preseason game vs. the Baltimore Ravens.

Cowboys Camp Report: Day 21

August, 13, 2014
OXNARD, Calif. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Dallas Cowboys training camp:
  • The Cowboys and Oakland Raiders concluded their two days of practice on Wednesday with a few minor scuffles but nothing to the level of what happened on Tuesday.
  • Jason Witten scored a touchdown in a two-minute situation but the Cowboys ran another play with a hurry-up back fastball from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant over Raiders corner Tarell Brown. Bryant and Brown did a lot of chirping at each other during practice. Bryant was especially vociferous with the Oakland DBs after he felt a couple of them took some unnecessary shots on Bryant's fellow receivers. At one point, Bryant ran on the field after an Oakland defender took a bigger-than-normal hit on Cowboys receiver Jamar Newsome on the return. Bryant got the last word with his touchdown, throwing up his trademark X for emphasis.
  • All the theatrics aside, DeMarco Murray felt the two days of work was worth it. "It was really good for me," Murray said. "It was like the first game since I sat out last week. So it was definitely a game tempo for me and mentality for me. That was just kind of getting my feet wet and getting ready for Baltimore."
  • Dan Bailey thrives under pressure but he might have felt more nervous at the end of the practice. In order to get the rest of the day off -- and a trip to the beach -- Bailey had to make a long field goal, but he swiped his first attempt wide to the left. He moved back 5 yards, believed to be a 60-yarder. "We didn't want to do that walk-through," Witten said. "But yeah, that was a big kick by Dan. Dan's pretty clutch. He actually moved it back five. It's a pretty gutsy move after a miss to move it back five. That's Bailey for you. He's a guy who's got a lot of confidence."
  • Linebacker Justin Durant was by far the Cowboys' most active defender. He had two impressive pass breakups, including one on a wheel route to Marcel Reece where he made a leaping deflection. He also had a handful of stops in the running game as well. It was not a perfect day for the defense but it was better than Tuesday's session.
  • Romo finished the day 16 of 24 in team and 7-on-7 drills but he had a less than sharp four-play run in which he was forced to throw the ball away under pressure, was late on a sideline pass to Terrance Williams, throwing behind the receiver, an interception on a forced throw to Bryant and missing Bryant on a go route. He completed nine of his last 11 throws on the day.
  • Devin Street was feisty. He got into the first scrap of the morning with Larry Asante while blocking the Oakland linebacker and then needed to be separated from Brown and veteran safety Charles Woodson.
  • The Cowboys wrap up their final full practice in Oxnard on Thursday with a 3:45 p.m. PT workout.

Cowboys Camp Report: Day 20

August, 12, 2014
OXNARD, Calif. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Dallas Cowboys training camp:
  • Anthony Spencer has yet to practice, but the defensive end has picked up his work so much in the past two weeks that the Cowboys might have a decision to make on his availability at the start of the season. Spencer is on the physically unable to perform list as he works his way back from microfracture knee surgery. If he is moved to reserve/PUP, he would miss the first six regular-season games. “Much ahead of where I thought and we all thought he would be,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “It's got a chance. Gives us a real head scratcher as to what to do on the PUP thing but he's got a chance to play and play early. There's no one that knows, and I don't know that he knows, but if he keeps progressing like he is, he's got a shot at coming in there at least after the first game or two. I don't know about the opener but he's far in advance. He's doing things that we didn't expect.” Spencer was able to do cutting and worked some pass-rush moves on the bags off to the side of the practice field.
  • It was a quieter than expected day for Dez Bryant against the Raiders defense. He caught only three passes in team and 7-on-7 drills and two of those catches went for short gains. But one catch was a shoestring grab on a slant from Tony Romo. In 7-on-7 drills Romo overthrew Bryant on a deep ball and Tarell Brown did a good job of defending him on a back shoulder throw down the sideline. Bryant's big play was on a crossing route that opened up in part because of a great blitz pickup by running back DeMarco Murray.
  • Romo completed 10 of 17 passes in team and 7-on-7 drills to bring his unofficial camp totals to 96-of-142. He was unable to connect on deeper throws down the field to Bryant, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten but it wasn't an arm strength issue. He overthrew all three of them in part because of the wind. His best throws were to Witten and Williams, purposely throwing slightly behind them in order to keep them away from an oncoming safety.
  • The Cowboys acquired cornerback Justin Green from the New England Patriots for defensive lineman Ben Bass. Green is more of an outside cornerback with good speed. He will compete with B.W. Webb and Tyler Patmon for one of the final cornerback spots once he arrived. New England is aware of the hamstring injury that has kept Bass out for the last week.
  • The Cowboys and Raiders conclude their work together with a 10:30 a.m. PT practice. The Cowboys will hold a walkthrough in the afternoon.

Cowboys Camp Report: Day 18

August, 10, 2014
OXNARD, Calif. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Dallas Cowboys training camp:
  • From the one-on-one drills in front of the entire team to the 11-on-11 drills, the Cowboys’ defense stood up to an offense, winning a number of battles in Sunday’s workout.
  • Wide receiver Dez Bryant and cornerback Orlando Scandrick got into a brief shoving match after a series of plays in which Bryant kept coming after Scandrick at the tail end of plays. At the end of the practice, Bryant said this was the best practice the defense had. “They got in our heads,” Bryant said. “Like I told Scandrick [Saturday] when we’re talking back, it’s obviously a good sign that y’all are doing something against us. On the offensive side of the ball, we have a high standard. We want to be the best and that’s the way it’s going to be, and that’s the kind of mindset that we’re going to have and we go out there each and every day.”
  • Tony Romo completed 14 of 17 passes in team and seven-on-seven drills Sunday. Unofficially through training camp he is 79 of 112 in those drills. He missed connections with tight end Gavin Escobar and wide receiver Cole Beasley on tight throws in red-zone drills. He directed the offense to a touchdown in two-minute drill work, punctuated by a DeMarco Murray draw from inside the 5 thanks to a clearing block from Mackenzy Bernadeau. On the next two-minute series, Romo was stopped by linebacker Kyle Wilber on a keeper, which might be a sign his back is feeling better since the call was for him to run.
  • Linebacker Rolando McClain returned to team drills for the first time in almost a week after battling through a bout of tendinitis. He made the play of the day on defense, tracking down Murray on a counter after sifting through the blocks. If he did not make the tackle, Murray would have had a long touchdown run. On the next play he sprinted to his right to tap up running back Lance Dunbar. While he might have been a fraction late, his reaction time was better than any other defender.
  • While the defense won the overall day, the receivers were able to dominate in tight red-zone one-on-one drills. Bryant beat Scandrick on two fades. On the first one Romo shouted, “Quit guessing Orlando.” On the second Bryant was able to pluck the ball over the top of Scandrick and pull the ball away at the last second as the corner came for the strip. The best route, however, might have been Cole Beasley’s quick work in which he faked in, jetted out and sprinted forward to the back of the end zone, tapping hit feet down for the score from Brandon Weeden.
  • Linebacker Bruce Carter took part in individual pass rush drills. He worked on the outside against the tackles. That might bear watching as the Cowboys continue to look for pass rush help and continue to find the right spots for Carter.
  • The Cowboys have their final off day during their time in Oxnard, California, on Monday.

Cowboys Camp Report: Day 17

August, 9, 2014
OXNARD, Calif. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Dallas Cowboys training camp:
  • Since Wade Wilson said Tony Romo was being tentative with his deep throws last week, maybe it was not a coincidence that Romo's first throw of one-on-one drills was a perfect go route to Dez Bryant. Romo continued to attack downfield, connecting on a go route with a diving Terrance Williams. Later in 7-on-7 drills he gashed the defense with a throw down the seam to Jason Witten. In situational work he hit Cole Beasley between the linebackers and safety with a good throw.
  • On the day, Romo completed 21 of 30 passes in team and 7-on-7 drills in his first work since a four-day break surrounding the first preseason game. He is expected to practice again Sunday with the team having its last day off in camp Monday. The Oakland Raiders will visit for two practices Tuesday and Wednesday.

  • After a poor showing against the San Diego Chargers, it was a bounce-back day of sorts for the defense. In situational work the first- and second-team defenses forced stops on two of three drives. Orlando Scandrick broke up a Romo throw in the end zone to Bryant. Terrance Mitchell broke up a pass for the second team from Brandon Weeden to Devin Street.
  • Cornerback Brandon Carr did not take part in any team drills in his first training camp practice of the summer. After going through the morning walkthrough, he took part in the afternoon walkthrough and individual drills but was not in pads. Cornerback Morris Claiborne (knee), cornerback Sterling Moore (groin), linebacker Will Smith (groin) and linebacker Rolando McClain (quadriceps) were in pads but did not take part in team drills. Barry Church returned to practice after missing two days and the San Diego game with a minor ankle sprain.
  • As he did against the Chargers, safety Jeff Heath worked the slot in the nickel defense for the first team. With Claiborne, Carr and Moore sitting, the Cowboys do not have enough corners to handle the slot, choosing to keep B.W. Webb outside in practice. Before the game, Heath had not taken a training camp snap at the nickel spot.
  • Kicker Dan Bailey has not missed a kick from 50 or more yards yet in training camp. He hit three more Saturday from 50, 53 and 55 yards. He has missed just three kicks all camp.

Cowboys Camp Report: Day 13

August, 5, 2014
OXNARD, Calif. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Dallas Cowboys training camp:
  • When Tyler Patmon left practice with a sore hip, the Cowboys were left with only three healthy cornerbacks -- Orlando Scandrick, B.W. Webb and Terrance Mitchell. Morris Claiborne will not play Thursday. Sterling Moore is unlikely to play. Brandon Carr has yet to report to camp because of the death of his mother. The Cowboys are looking at adding two defensive backs, Korey Lindsey and Johnny Thomas, who could be asked to play against the Chargers despite not having any practice time.

    In practice, safety Ryan Smith lined up at cornerback. Jakar Hamilton, a safety, was taken some turns at corner as well but he got hurt Sunday.

    “We’re struggling with numbers,” secondary coach Jerome Henderson said. “We’ve got to get some guys healthy. We’ve got to get guys back, so we’re doing the best we can.”

    The Cowboys are thin at safety too with Barry Church (ankle), Matt Johnson (hamstring) and Hamilton slowed.

    The numbers were so low that Henderson took some turns on the scout-team defense, which was a first for him. He joked during the practice about picking off a pass intended for Gavin Escobar.

    “I think I would’ve pulled every muscle in my body trying,” Henderson said.

    He was not afraid of taking a hit, but he knows his players will be anxiously looking at the film of the practice.

    “I’m sure it will be the highlight of the day for them to give me a minus,” Henderson said.
  • Tony Romo did not practice Tuesday and will likely not play against the Chargers. From the look of the practice snaps, it doesn’t look like DeMarco Murray or Dez Bryant will see any action either. The first-team offensive line, however, was intact during the session.
  • A big focus of the practice was on San Diego, with the Cowboys’ offense running eight plays against the scout-team defense. The defense saw 12 plays from the scout-team offense. Running back Ben Malena took a pretty good shot from linebacker Justin Durant. Adewale Ojomo had would-be sack of Dustin Vaughan, but coordinator Rod Marinelli warned him to stay off the quarterback so a throw could be made.
  • Scandrick had a nice pick in the end zone of Brandon Weeden on a throw to the post for Dez Bryant, undercutting the throw for his second interception in three practices. Wide receiver Devin Street made a good leaping catch for a score over Webb, pulling the ball away as the two fell to the ground.
  • The Cowboys travel to San Diego on Wednesday and not practice before Thursday’s preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers.

Cowboys Camp Report: Day 12

August, 4, 2014
OXNARD, Calif. – A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Dallas Cowboys training camp:
  • Another day, another injury to the Cowboys' defensive line. Starting left defensive end George Selvie did not practice due to a strained groin. He was one of six defensive linemen who didn't practice, including defensive ends Anthony Spencer (physically unable to perform list) and DeMarcus Lawrence (out eight to 12 weeks with a broken foot). Tyrone Crawford worked at left defensive end with the starters during team drills with Selvie sidelined -- as was the case for much of Sunday's scrimmage. Crawford, who was one of the first names mentioned by owner and general manager Jerry Jones when asked about standouts from the scrimmage, was especially impressive as an interior rusher in pass-rush drills Monday. He beat center Travis Frederick and right guard Zack Martin on back-to-back snaps at one point.
  • Linebacker Rolando McClain left practice due to soreness in his quadriceps a day after being limited in the scrimmage due to tightness in his hamstring. The Cowboys are encouraged by what they've seen from McClain so far and believe minor health issues are the result of not playing football last season or participating in an NFL offseason program.
  • Head coach Jason Garrett taunted the cornerbacks during the early portion of one-on-one passing drills. "This is a bludgeoning so far!" Garrett hollered after the receivers opened the drills with three consecutive catches. The cornerbacks responded by drawing flags from the NFL officiating crew working the practice on three of the next four plays.
  • Dwayne Harris, an outstanding return man, is somewhat of a forgotten man in the Cowboys' receiver corps. That could change if he can consistently perform like he did during Monday's team drills. In one four-play span, Harris caught a short touchdown pass on a slant from Tony Romo despite heavy contact from Orlando Scandrick, a deep out from Brandon Weeden to the 3-yard line and another short touchdown on a slant from Weeden.
  • Receivers coach Derek Dooley has emphasized the importance of expanding slot receiver Cole Beasley's route package after Beasley ran almost solely 5-yard option routes and slants last season. The final play of the day was a perfect example. Beasley got Scandrick to bite on the slant fake and took off up the seam. Beasley was so wide open that Romo throwing a duck didn't matter. Beasley caught the ball and easily raced into the end zone for a long touchdown.
  • The Cowboys will focus on prep work for their preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers during their 6:45 p.m. ET (3:45 local) practice Tuesday. It is their final practice before Thursday's game.

Cowboys Camp Report: Day 11

August, 3, 2014
OXNARD, Calif. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Dallas Cowboys training camp:
  • The biggest story was the fight between Dez Bryant and J.J. Wilcox. Bryant did not appreciate the big hit he took from Wilcox and the two were briefly removed from the drill. It was a competitive and talkative day on both sides of the ball. The most intense might have been between Bryant and Orlando Scandrick, who went back and forth on a number of plays in the five sessions of team drills.

    "He's fighting and I love every bit of it," Bryant said. "Scandrick is a dog. A lot of those corners are feeding off of him. They love him. I love him. He's an animal. Like I said, we've just got to keep it going."

    Bryant was able to beat Scandrick for two touchdowns -- one on a bullet of a throw from Tony Romo at the goal line and another on a slant in which he broke free from Scandrick's grasp. Scandrick, however, came up with two pass deflections and ended the first-team defense's day with an interception.
  • The Blue-White scrimmage part of Sunday's practice featured 12 plays for quarterbacks Caleb Hanie and Dustin Vaughan. Hanie was able to direct his offense to a Dan Bailey field goal, highlighted by a long run-and-catch by Chris Boyd on a bubble screen. Vaughan should have had a seventh play on the drive after Terrance Mitchell was called for illegal contact on Jamar Newsome, but Jason Garrett ended practice.
  • Linebacker Rolando McClain, who was looking at first-team snaps in the mostly situational practice, suffered a hamstring strain and did not take part in any drills after the special teams' portion of practice. Safety Barry Church hurt his left ankle and was forced to leave early but the team does not believe it is serious. Jakar Hamilton and Dezmon Briscoe also left practice early with injuries.
  • Defensive end Martez Wilson helped his cause by stripping quarterback Brandon Weeden for a sack/fumble and returning the loose ball for a touchdown for the No. 2 defense. He forced a Hail Mary throw on the next drive with a would-be sack of Weeden. On that long throw from Weeden to Tim Benford at the goal line, linebacker DeVonte Holloman showed great speed and anticipation to knock the ball away.
  • The Cowboys will not practice until 5:15 p.m. Monday to rest up after a longer than normal Sunday practice. Jason Garrett's press conference is at 12 p.m.

Cowboys Camp Report: Day 10

August, 2, 2014
OXNARD, Calif. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Dallas Cowboys training camp:
  • Saturday’s practice featured goal-line and short-yardage drills, which also meant the first "live" reps of training camp. "It’s the first time you can really strap it on and go against each other," tight end Jason Witten said. "It creates a competitive edge for you to go full speed like that and gets guys in a football mindset. It was good for us to get the work."
  • Depending on how you want to count the snaps, the offense and defense won. With the top offense going against the top defense, the defense got stops on two of three plays, but they let up a Joseph Randle touchdown on the first carry with a run over Mackenzy Bernadeau and Tyron Smith. Safety Barry Church forced a throwaway on an out-of-pocket pass by Brandon Weeden, and Ryan Williams was stopped short of the goal line by a mass of tacklers. "It was good but it wasn’t good enough," defensive tackle Nick Hayden said. "We gave up the first one, a touchdown, so obviously if we do that in a game we don’t get two more chances. We’ve just got to be better that way and stop them all three times."
  • As they did last year in camp, the Cowboys did not give DeMarco Murray any of the goal-line snaps in order to preserve the Cowboys’ top rusher. "We know DeMarco can get a yard," passing game coordinator Scott Linehan said. "I think the whole thing is to see these younger players, get some reps to see how they respond. That’s not uncommon to do that." Murray had a career-high nine rushing touchdowns last season.
  • Cornerback DaShaun Phillips left practice early with a hamstring injury leaving the Cowboys with only four cornerbacks for practice: Orlando Scandrick, B.W. Webb, Terrance Mitchell and Tyler Patmon. As a result safety Jakar Hamilton took work as the nickel cornerback, working the slot for the first time in camp. The Cowboys are hopeful Sterling Moore (groin) can return quickly after missing two practices. Morris Claiborne is resting a sore knee, and Brandon Carr will not be back to camp until after the preseason opener at the San Diego Chargers. Patmon came up with an interception of Caleb Hanie on a comeback to Jamar Newsome.
  • How important is downfield blocking for wide receivers coach Derek Dooley? He had his crew working the blocking sled during individual drill.
  • The Cowboys will hold their Blue-White scrimmage at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. The veterans go through a normal practice, and the younger players will have live tackling.

Cowboys Camp Report: Day 8

July, 31, 2014
OXNARD, Calif. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Dallas Cowboys training camp:
  • The offense brought it to the defense in team drills, especially in the running game, which has to be concerning. Running backs DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar were able to get through the line unscathed in team run and situational work. Guard Zack Martin flattened safety Barry Church while pulling to give Murray a big gain, drawing oohs and aahs. Dunbar was able to gain the edge against the second-team defense with his speed, racing by cornerback DaShaun Phillips. Ryan Williams took a toss for a long gain, too.
  • The Cowboys D stuck with a seven-man front against the offense, which might have accounted for some of the big gains, but the line was unable to get off blocks.
  • One play that Jason Garrett will assuredly show his players was the work of Dez Bryant in team drills. A Tony Romo pass to Bryant was deflected at the line of scrimmage with linebacker Bruce Carter in position for his first interception of training camp. Bryant quickly backtracked, jumped over Carter and flicked the ball away to prevent the turnover. That a player of Bryant's stature made that kind of hustle play will not go unnoticed with the way Garrett likes to use his best players as teaching points.
  • The defensive line was much better in pass-rush drills. Right tackle Doug Free struggled with power from George Selvie, Dartwan Bush and Caesar Rayford in three reps. Jeremy Mincey was able to put Mackenzy Bernadeau to the ground with a power move. Backup tackle Jermey Parnell did a nice job of handling Tyrone Crawford's power, staying low to absorb Crawford's momentum.
  • Garrett offered up play-by-play in the one-on-one drills between the receivers and corners. At one point he said the defense was being "bludgeoned." After an Orlando Scandrick pick, he gave the defense two extra points. Passing game coordinator Scott Linehan responded with, "Do we get two points for a touchdown?"
  • Wide receiver Dwayne Harris suffered a left ankle sprain in one-on-one drills with cornerbacks when he was rolled up by Terrance Mitchell. Mitchell was chastised by Dez Bryant and others for being too aggressive and not staying on his feet. The Cowboys don't believe Harris' injury is serious. Defensive tackle Ben Bass left practice early with a hamstring injury. The Cowboys are down five defensive linemen (Amobi Okoye, Bass, DeMarcus Lawrence, Anthony Spencer and Terrell McClain) and could be forced to sign a reinforcement to ease the load off the rest of the group. Cornerback Sterling Moore and guard Brian Clarke did not practice because of a groin injury. With only five healthy corners, practice was shorter than normal.
  • The Cowboys are off on Friday and will return to practice on Saturday.

Cowboys camp report: Day 7

July, 30, 2014
OXNARD, Calif. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Dallas Cowboys training camp:
  • Tony Romo returned to practice after sitting out on Tuesday and completed 12 of 18 passes in team and 7-on-7 drills. He was intercepted by cornerback Morris Claiborne, who did a nice job of going up for a slightly underthrown deep ball to wide receiver Terrance Williams. Romo and Dez Bryant had some difficulty connecting, with Bryant dropping a would-be touchdown pass in 7-on-7s. Later, Bryant was shallow with a route in the end zone with the throw just out of his grasp, and Romo overthrew Bryant on a double-move in the end zone. In team drills, however, they ended the drive with a back-shoulder touchdown where Bryant out-muscled Sterling Moore. Romo and Jason Witten continued what has been a near decade-long connection. Romo led Witten down the seam for a touchdown over Justin Durant, and he was able to lead Witten for a nice gain just out of the reach of a linebacker.
  • Every day the Cowboys go through drills to work on ball security or taking the ball away. For the offense, the running backs, receivers and tight ends had to run through a gauntlet of coaches, equipment managers and interns swinging bags or gloves at them through a 10-yard stretch. Only one player fumbled in the drill.
  • Running back Lance Dunbar could be a real mismatch player if he can stay healthy. He had a big gain on a swing pass to the flat and scored a touchdown on a little arrow route out of the backfield, breaking free from rookie linebacker Anthony Hitchens with nothing but open space down the middle of the field in 7-on-7s.
  • Brandon Weeden’s prettiest throw of the day was his first throw of the practice. In play-action drills, Weeden was able to arc a pass over linebacker Rolando McClain and before the defensive back, allowing tight end James Hanna to come up with the long completion. In red-zone drills, however, Weeden was not as fortunate. His check down to Hanna was late and inside and fell incomplete, setting up a field goal.
  • Assistant coach Derek Dooley came out firing on his receivers. Unhappy at their effort early in drills, Dooley let loose with some fastballs in short-area drills along the sideline. He barked, “Get some energy and I won’t act like this.” The backup receivers came through. L'Damian Washington made a nice diving catch on a deep ball in one-on-one drills. LaRon Byrd caught two touchdown passes in red-zone drills. Jamar Newsome did a nice job in punt coverage, splitting a double team as a gunner.

Cowboys camp report: Day 7

July, 29, 2014
OXNARD, Calif. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Dallas Cowboys training camp:
  • With Tony Romo sitting out of the afternoon workout Brandon Weeden took the first-team full-pad reps for the first time in camp. He completed 13 of 18 passes in team and seven-on-seven drills. In the two-minute drills he directed the offense to a game-tying 41-yard field goal by Dan Bailey at the end of regulation. Weeden completed six of eight passes on the drive, and his best throw might have been one of his incompletions.

    With nine seconds left, Weeden looked in the end zone for Dez Bryant, but Morris Claiborne was in good position.

    “In that situation you have three points,” Weeden said. “We have a great kicker so you can’t turn the ball over. You’ve got a chance to make a play and put it where he can catch it or nobody else ... I knew the DB wasn’t going to catch it. That’s the main thing.”

    Weeden took all of the first-team reps in the spring but noticed a difference in running it with pads on for the first time.

    More than anything it’s in the run game and the pass rush,” Weeden said. “You’re banging. It’s more of a bomb went off back there. That’s what a game will be like ... With the pads on it’s easier to do that stuff. Without pads, you can’t really do a lot of that stuff we’re trying to do now. It was good. It feels like real football.”
  • The hit of the day might have belonged to rookie linebacker Anthony Hitchens in one-on-one pass rush drills with running backs. Hitchens flattened Joseph Randle in the drill and immediately had fellow linebacker Justin Durant jumping on his back in celebration. To Randle’s credit, he responded in his next two reps, including a good standstill with Orie Lemon. All of the running backs not named DeMarco Murray struggled in the pass-protection drill. When coach Jason Garrett had Murray go up against Bruce Carter in the daily offense vs. defense matchup, Murray won the matchup.
  • Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Bill Callahan is considered a very technical coach. During individual drills, the offensive line worked on the proper way to throw a forearm shiver as they moved up on combination blocks. Callahan explained that the move has to be short and quick and the lineman cannot wind up or get his arm outside the framework of his body. The work paid off later in running drills with some good combination blocks from the line.
  • Caleb Hanie had his first extended work of camp with Romo sitting, moving up to the second team. He was late on a throw to tight end James Hanna, who beat linebacker DeVonte Holloman, allowing Holloman the chance to recover and make the pass deflection. He was short on a deep throw to Jamar Newsome that gave Tyler Patmon the ability to make the break up.
  • After DeMarcus Lawrence went down with an ankle/foot injury, Martez Wilson seemed to kick in. Wilson had two sakcs in team drills (one of Hanie, one of Dustin Vaughan). He also added a pressure of Vaughan.

Cowboys Camp Report: Day 4

July, 27, 2014
OXNARD, Calif. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Dallas Cowboys training camp:
  • Tony Romo averaged just 7.2 yards per attempt in 2013 as the field shrunk on the Cowboys. Through two padded practices Romo is looking to get the ball down the field. On the first play of team drills he connected with Dez Bryant on a deep ball after Bryant left cornerback Morris Claiborne. In seven-on-seven drills he led Terrance Williams for a big gain with Williams out-jumping B.W. Webb for the completion and getting his feet down before he went out of bounds. In team and seven-on-seven drills Romo completed 13-of-17 passes. He was intercepted for the first time in camp when Devin Street slipped, allowing Sterling Moore to make the pick.
  • DeMarco Murray showed a burst of speed on a run up the middle of the Cowboys’ nickel defense that had running backs coach Gary Brown oohing and aahing. After seeing the hole open in front of him, Murray accelerated through the line untouched and then received some down-field blocking help from Bryant. Later in third-down drills, Murray caught a Romo dump off for a first down working his way through cornerback Orlando Scandrick for the pickup.
  • Injuries are always a worry early in camp and the Cowboys lost Matt Johnson (hamstring), Terrell McClain (ankle) and DeVonte Holloman (dehydration), and it could have been worse. Safety Jeff Heath jammed his right wrist while attempting to tackle Lance Dunbar on a run. He was examined by the medical staff and was able to return after a tape job. Bruce Carter left briefly during one-on-one drills with a sore knee but he returned and said after practice he was OK.
  • There could be something of a rotation in the battle to be the Cowboys’ third running back. Ryan Williams took the third-team snaps over Joseph Randle, who took that work on Saturday. Williams showed great patience on a screen pass from Brandon Weeden in third-down drills. He nearly came up with a Dustin Vaughan throw on a wheel route after beating linebacker Dontavis Sapp down the sideline, but the pass was just out of his diving reach.
  • Dan Bailey made five of six kicks in his first live work of training camp. Bailey made kicks from 34, 38, 41, 44 and 48 yards. His one miss came from 51 yards in which he hooked the ball left. An interesting note with the first-team field goal protection team: center Travis Frederick lined up as the left wing. Normally that position has been reserved for a tight end or defensive lineman. And for some reason the Cowboys keep Witten on the field goal unit as the right wing.

Cowboys Camp Report: Day 3

July, 26, 2014
OXNARD, Calif. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Dallas Cowboys training camp:
  • All eyes were on Tony Romo as he practiced in pads for the first time since Week 16 last season because of a back injury. Romo completed nine of 12 passes in team and seven-on-seven drills. The offense attacked downfield with Romo opening the seven-on-seven drills with a back-shoulder throw down the seam to tight end Jason Witten. He connected with Dez Bryant on a deep ball in seven-on-seven drills but overshot Bryant on a deep throw in team drills.
  • The Cowboys threw Rolando McClain into the action right away. He took some of the second-team middle linebacker snaps despite not being acquired until earlier this month and missing the first two days of camp to stand trial in Alabama. On his first play in team run drill, McClain shrugged off tight end James Hanna and tackled running back Lance Dunbar for a short gain. McClain’s conditioning will have to be watched since he was not in football during the spring.
  • Owner and general manager Jerry Jones was impressed with the work of defensive tackle Henry Melton. The Cowboys will limit his work in team drills as works his way back into form from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. After one play defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli yelled, “Go to the ball, Henry. Every play is your play.”
  • Rookie defensive end Ben Gardner suffered a shoulder injury in practice and will have an MRI. He was the only player injured in camp. During the pre-practice festivities a Cowboys cheerleader suffered a knee injury and needed to be carted off the field.
  • Like they did in the June minicamp, the offensive and defensive linemen were required to wear knee braces. The Cowboys want to limit the possibility of injuries with players falling to the ground. The offensive linemen are more accustomed to wearing the braces. The second the first-team defenders were done with team drills they unfastened their braces.

Cowboys Camp Report: Day 2

July, 25, 2014
OXNARD, Calif. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Dallas Cowboys training camp:
  • Linebacker Rolando McClain is expected to be at Saturday’s walkthrough after being found guilty of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct from an incident in April 2013. He appealed the decision and was on a plane for California after the trial.

    “We’ve got to learn a little more about it, but I don’t think it’s anything that’s going to keep him from playing,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said.

    The Cowboys were aware of McClain’s trial when they made the trade with the Baltimore Ravens. In addition to Jason Garrett speaking with Alabama coach Nick Saban, Jones spoke with Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome.

    “I had a great visit with Ozzie, very comfortable with what he’s been through,” Jones said. “That’s why we decided to make the decision we did.”

    Jones said the Cowboys will ease McClain into practice once he arrives.
  • The Cowboys completed their two-day ease into training camp with their second straight practice in which the offense and defense did not work against each other in drills. Jason Garrett, Jones and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said they liked how the players handled the work and the emphasis on fundamentals before the pads come on for Saturday’s workout. “You get guys hurt the first couple days like we did last year and you look for ways to do things a little different,” Jones said.
  • Wide receiver Dwayne Harris was one of the better kick returners in the NFL last season and will be the Cowboys’ top returner this season, but the Cowboys had a cast of characters working it on Friday. Harris, who averaged 30.6 yards a return in 2013, was joined by Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, Ben Malena, J.J. Wilcox, Devin Street, B.W. Webb, Lance Dunbar, Ryan Williams, Joseph Randle and Tim Benford in kick return drills.
  • The best part of training camp is getting up close to see the instruction the coaches give to the players. Secondary coach Jerome Henderson had the cornerbacks working on a walk-off release by wide receivers, telling his players to be mindful of hand placement. With receivers getting lower off the line, cornerbacks need to aim their hands at the receiver’s chest to make sure they don’t draw flags for illegal contact or contact to the face.
  • During the special teams’ portion of practice, tight ends coach Mike Pope put Jason Witten through an interesting drill in which Witten tossed a ball in the air, had to catch a pass from Pope and then corral the ball he initially tossed in the air. Once he mastered that, Pope had him do the same with his back to the coach, toss the ball, turn around and have to catch both passes. Later on Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray joined in the drill.