Dallas Cowboys: Tim Benford

Constructing a 53-man roster is a difficult process, piecing together 10 positions groups and matching up present needs with future production of older and younger players. This week we take a look at constructing the Cowboys’ roster.

Wide receivers

On the roster: Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Dwayne Harris, Devin Street, Tim Benford, LaRon Byrd, Jamar Newsome, L'Damian Washington, Chris Boyd

Locks: Bryant, Williams, Beasley, Harris, Street

Has a shot: Benford

Need help: Byrd, Newsome, Washington, Boyd

How many fit? The Cowboys typically keep five wide receivers and that appears to be the max going into 2014 as well, but injuries in camp or an unexpected turn from a Benford, Byrd or Boyd could force them to keep six.

They know what they have in their top four receivers. Bryant is a star. Williams is only entering his second season but he showed last year he can handle the job. Beasley and Harris have roles in the slot while they can play a little bit outside if needed. Street has the lead for the fifth spot after a solid spring. The Cowboys traded up in the fifth round to get him and liked the fact that he worked in a pro-style offense at Pittsburgh. He needs to work on handling a more physical game at the NFL level but that’s something every young receiver needs.

Benford has spent the last two seasons on the practice squad, which is not always the best thing. I can’t think of a receiver who made the jump to the active roster with the Cowboys after spending that much time on the practice squad. But he had a good spring and his quickness in the slot could earn him some extra time. At the very least he can show he can play in the league with a good spring. Byrd is listed at 225 pounds, but he looks almost like an H-back. He did a nice job catching the ball in the spring and his experience in the pro game gives him an edge. Newsome was on the practice squad last year and flashed a few times this spring.

Washington’s spring was cut short because of a shoulder injury. His speed and story have a lot of people rooting for him, but Boyd might be the more accomplished receiver. He has good size and decent speed to fit what the Cowboys want in outside receivers.

Every year one of these young receivers jumps out early at camp only to be reeled in later on. Last year it was Eric Rogers. One of these guys will do the same, but don’t get too excited too fast. It will be difficult for any of them to break into the top five without an injury.

The series:

Quarterbacks
Specialists
Running backs
Safeties

OTA observations: Pump up the volume

June, 10, 2014
Jun 10
5:49
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys pumped up the volume at Tuesday's organized team activity, playing music throughout the workout, ranging from Run DMC to heavy metal.

Coach Jason Garrett said he has used music in past OTAs in 2-minute situations, but this was the first practice in which the music played almost through the entire practice.

"It puts you in the game," passing game coordinator Scott Linehan said. "You've got to communicate in the game. It's not always perfect. When you're out here in the spacious practice facility with nobody yelling or screaming at you it's like golf. You don't have to worry or think about distractions. You've got to learn how to play when you've got 100,000 people screaming down your neck and doing it without letting it bother you, so I think it's really good work."

On to some more observations:
  • Linehan said Brandon Weeden has had his best week of practice. With Tony Romo sitting and Kyle Orton absent, Caleb Hanie had his best day in the sessions open to the media. He completed all but two of his throws in team drills and one was a throwaway while he was under pressure. He connected with Devin Street near the sideline, putting the ball on a dime to where Street could keep his feet inbounds.
  • Weeden's best throw was a play-action dig to wide receiver Terrance Williams, putting the ball just a little low to keep it away from cornerback Orlando Scandrick, who was trailing on the play.
  • The timing Romo and Jason Witten have is almost always impeccable. You can see the small difference when Romo isn't in there. Weeden was unable to get enough loft on a corner route to Witten with linebacker Bruce Carter in coverage. The throw was more on the line and Witten couldn't get both hands on it. With a little more air, Witten would have made the catch.
  • The struggles continued for cornerback B.W. Webb. On two of three passes he was beaten by Tim Benford and Cole Beasley. On the second play Beasley was able to change direction so quickly that Webb lost his leverage and gave up a big gain.
  • Backup left tackle Darrion Weems did a nice job of kicking out defensive end Martez Wilson on a Lance Dunbar run to beat a blitz from the defense.
  • Backup tight end Gavin Escobar had a good day after missing the open session last week with what he described as a tweaked back. He plucked a Hanie pass away with Jakar Hamilton closing fast, making sure the safety did not have a chance to break up the play. Later working in motion he was able to get inside leverage with a hard sell to the outside for a decent completion from Dustin Vaughan.
  • DeVonte Holloman and Anthony Hitchens did not take part in team drills. Holloman has been slowed by a hamstring strain. Undrafted rookie Dontavis Sapp was able to get more work at backup middle linebacker.
  • Receiver Dwayne Harris was kept out of team drills as a receiver as he continues to come back from offseason shoulder surgery. He was able to handle the punt return duties. Harris said he will not do any team drills on offense until training camp.
  • The Cowboys signed defensive end Dartwan Bush, who attended the rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, and will place cornerback Jocquel Skinner on injured reserve with a knee injury.

Cowboys' Twitter mailbag, Part 2

June, 7, 2014
Jun 7
12:00
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Part 2 of the Dallas Cowboys' Twitter mailbag is ready.

In it we discuss:

** The ceiling of the defense
** The future of Brandon Carr
** The backup wide receivers
** The role for Dwayne Harris
** And if they keep a fullback.

If you want to see Part 1, click here.

Away we go:

 
IRVING, Texas -- The Sean Lee injury news dominated the first day of the Dallas Cowboys' organized team activities, but here's a look at some other observations from Tuesday's workout:
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  • With Tony Romo limited and Kyle Orton not around, Brandon Weeden was able to get the first-team work and he showed well. He didn't necessarily get more work than he would have if Romo and Orton were available, but he was able to get quality work with the starters. His best throw was a throw to the sideline over cornerback Brandon Carr to Terrance Williams. It was in a spot where only Williams could make the grab, which he did for what would have been a long gain.
  • If there was a spot where Weeden struggled it was on the move. He was not as accurate on his throws on the run, missing mostly high.
  • Romo went through pat-and-go, team takeoff. He threw routes on air to receivers, but he did not go through any individual work. As the other quarterbacks went through footwork drills, Romo was a spectator. He alternated every few throws and made sure most of his passes went to Dez Bryant, Williams or Jason Witten.
  • Zack Martin was the starter at right guard and Mackenzy Bernadeau and Ronald Leary split the left guard snaps. Will that continue in training camp? In my opinion, it should.
  • The first-team defensive line from left to right: Tyrone Crawford, Terrell McClain, Nick Hayden, DeMarcus Lawrence. With George Selvie (shoulder) and Henry Melton (knee) recovering from offseason surgeries, Crawford moved outside, which is a sign of his versatility. McClain could be a nose tackle candidate once Melton is able to get back.
  • In addition to Selvie and Melton, Morris Claiborne (shoulder), Dwayne Harris (shoulder),Caesar Rayford (shoulder), Ahmad Dixon (hip), Dashaun Phillips and Jocquel Skinner did not take part in team drills. Justin Durant and Darrion Weems did not practice at all.
  • Interesting to note: Cole Beasley and Tim Benford only ran routes from the slot during the receivers individual period while the rest of the receivers worked outside.

Cowboys Twitter mailbag, Part 2

May, 24, 2014
May 24
12:00
PM ET
Part 2 of the Dallas Cowboys’ Twitter mailbag is ready.

In it we discuss:


Away we go:

 
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys will have 15 players at their rookie minicamp on a tryout basis.

They will join the nine draft picks and 24 undrafted free agents at Valley Ranch on Friday and Saturday.

The Cowboys could have included two players from last year's practice squad, wide receiver Tim Benford and linebacker Jonathan Stewart, in workouts as well but opted to hold them out.

The tryout players include: Oklahoma State cornerback Tyler Patmon, Colorado center Gus Handler, Citadel cornerback Brandon McCladdie, Oklahoma State linebacker Caleb Lavey, Lehigh wide receiver Lee Kurfis, Baylor linebacker Eddie Lackey, Louisiana-Monroe quarterback Kolton Browning, Wake Forest running back Josh Harris, Tennessee defensive tackle Maurice Couch, Texas A&M Kingsville wide receiver Robert Armstrong, Bowling Green defensive back Aaron Foster, Louisiana-Monroe running back Jyruss Edwards, Texas Tech defensive lineman Dartwan Bush and BYU tight end Kaeakua Friel.

Tackle Darius Moore, who went to camp with the Houston Texans in 2011, will also attend the minicamp.

Cowboys sign four players

January, 8, 2014
Jan 8
4:43
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys signed four players Wednesday to futures contracts in hopes they find another Nick Hayden.

Guard Chris DeGeare, defensive end Tristan Okpalaugo and linebackers Quinton Spears and Jabara Williams joined the group of practice squad players that re-signed with the team after the regular-season finale loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Hayden, a defensive tackle, was signed Feb. 11, 2013 to a futures deal and started every game.

DeGeare was among the New York Giants’ final cuts in 2013 and was out of football, like Hayden, in 2012. He was a fifth-round pick in 2010 by the Minnesota Vikings and started five games. He spent the 2011 season on the Vikings' practice squad. He spent six weeks on the Tennessee Titans practice squad in 2011 but was not picked up after his Oct. 17 release. He signed with the Giants on Jan. 8, 2013.

Okpalaugo had two tackles and a sack against the Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game against the Miami Dolphins. After he was cut by Miami he spent eight days on the Vikings’ practice squad before he was cut Sept. 10, 2013.

Spears played in 13 games for the Cleveland Browns in 2011 and was out of football in 2012 before signing with the Indianapolis Colts. He was released by the Colts last September and did not sign with another team.

Williams spent time with the St. Louis Rams (seventh-round pick in 2011) and Chicago Bears. He re-signed with the Rams in 2012 but was cut coming out of training camp in 2013 and was not in football.

Among the 21 players the Cowboys signed to futures contracts last year, five spent time on the 53-man roster or practice squad, including Hayden, Tim Benford, Micah Pellern, Andre Smith and Ray Dominguez.

Could Gavin Escobar's time be coming?

December, 19, 2013
12/19/13
9:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys might be forced to become the two-tight end offensive team they thought they were going to be at the beginning of the season when they play the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

Hamstring injuries could keep Dwayne Harris and Terrance Williams from the field. Neither practiced on Wednesday but Williams is the more likely of the two to play.

The Cowboys signed Michael Spurlock, but he is more of a return specialist than receiver. The Cowboys have three receivers on the practice squad -- Tim Benford, Jamar Newsome, Lanear Sampson -- but it does not sound as if one could be called up for Sunday's game.

"We have [Gavin] Escobar and we have the tight ends that allow us to absorb some of that," coach Jason Garrett said.

If Harris and Williams can't play, then the Cowboys have only three healthy receivers in Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Cole Beasley.

"Obviously that puts me in the game plan a little bit more, which is exciting for me," Escobar said. "I'm just ready to jump in there whatever the team asks for."

Escobar has only eight catches for 117 yards and a touchdown on the season. After having only one catch in seven weeks, Escobar has three catches for 47 yards in the last two games. He started against the Green Bay Packers.

"Every week I'm just trying to show the coaches I can make plays whether that's the scout team or on offense and I think the past few weeks I've been doing that," Escobar said. "I think their confidence is growing in me, so I'm just trying to translate that to game time."

W2W4: Five things for Texans-Cowboys

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
12:30
PM ET
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys meet the Houston Texans in the preseason for the first time since 2010 at AT&T Stadium. Intrastate pride might be on the line for the fans of both teams, but little else.

With 75 players on the roster, some jobs remain but most are filled. Here’s what we’ll be looking at tonight:

Job fair: With 18 roster moves to make by Saturday’s cut-down date, most of the decisions have likely been made. There are perhaps two open spots with as many as eight guys looking to fit the square peg. Would the Cowboys carry five tight ends? How about six receivers? Nine defensive linemen?

Defensive tackle Sean Lissemore, tight end Andre Smith, wide receiver Anthony Armstrong, cornerback Micah Pellerin, tackle DeMetress Bell, guard David Arkin and guard Kevin Kowalski can make their cases tonight. Linebacker Brandon Magee (concussion), safeties Eric Frampton (calf), Danny McCray (hamstring) and Matt Johnson (foot) will have to watch and sweat out the final decisions.

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Tanney time: Maybe Kyle Orton opens the game, but the Cowboys will give Alex Tanney most of the work.

With needs at other positions and injury questions going into the opener, Tanney is looking more like a practice-squad fit than a 53-man roster fit. If he plays lights out, he could change the equation or at the very least get another team to keep him on the 53-man roster the way Matt Moore did a few years ago.

Check out the Texans: Last year the Cowboys closed the preseason against Miami and traded for veteran offensive lineman Ryan Cook a few days later based on what they saw in that game.

With the Cowboys moving to a pure zone blocking scheme this year, check out the Texans’ offensive linemen. Assistant offensive line coach Frank Pollack spent five years with the Texans (2007-11) and will have a good idea of what would be a good fit with the Cowboys.

As unsettled as the Cowboys are with their starting offensive line they’re more unsettled with the backups. A case could be made they don’t have a ninth or 10th guy (if they choose to reach double digits) on their current roster to fill out the line.

Earning practice squad jobs: Tanney has been talked about, but there will be seven other spots to fill. The Cowboys like to keep receivers and defensive backs on the practice squad because of the amount of running in practice, so guys like Danny Coale, Tim Benford and Pellerin bear watching.

And the line play will have candidates to, like defensive end Jerome Long and offensive tackle Darrion Weems. Linebacker could be another spot of interest with Cameron Lawrence and Taylor Reed.

The digital board: Chris Jones hit it last week with a punt against Cincinnati and the Bengals returned the re-kick 75 yards for a touchdown, continuing a preseason-long issue of special teams’ miscues. Jones is unlikely to hit it again, but watching it to see the clock tick down will be more important because it brings us closer to the start of the regular season.

Snap count reveals a lot about the Cowboys

August, 25, 2013
8/25/13
4:30
PM ET
The playing time of several Dallas Cowboys players during Saturday night's game against the Cincinnati Bengals told you plenty about what the team thinks of certain players and of certain position groups.

We review.

Wide receiver: You think the Cowboys are trying to get Anthony Armstrong on the 53-man roster? He played 22 offensive snaps, including 10 on special teams. If the Cowboys go with six receivers, he will be No. 6. Tim Benford played 17 plays Saturday night and if he's cut, maybe the team brings him back to the practice squad if he clears waivers. Another player who might not make the 53 but get moved to the practice squad is Danny Coale, who played just three offensive snaps. He had a swollen knee during training camp, which slowed his development, and is coming off a torn ACL. Jared Green and Eric Rogers were healthy scratches for the dress rehearsal. Green and Rogers, if both survive the Tuesday cuts from 90 to 75, will see plenty of action Thursday night against Houston. The question is who do you want for the practice squad -- Coale, Benford, Rogers or Green?

(Read full post)

Cowboys practice report: Day 14

August, 11, 2013
8/11/13
11:01
PM ET
OXNARD, Calif. -- A busy-filled return to practice for the Cowboys on Sunday featured two fights, an ejection and a solid day from wide receiver Terrance Williams in his return to practice.
  • Running back Phillip Tanner got into a scrap with linebacker Taylor Reed in which punches were thrown. Reed lost his helmet in the process. This is the second fight in training camp involving a running back -- Lance Dunbar stepped into the ring last week. Also, guard David Arkin and Jabari Fletcher slap-boxed for about 10 seconds.
  • In a strange play, cornerback Orlando Scandrick tried to make a tackle along the sidelines and pushed the head linesman out of the way. A flag was thrown and the head linesman said after practice if this were a game, Scandrick would have been ejected. Scandrick said he wasn't trying to touch the referee. Out of frustration he took himself out of practice and had a brief talk with defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin as he went to the sidelines. With Scandrick out, Sterling Moore took over.
  • Do you want to know why James Hanna is ahead of Gavin Escobar on the depth chart at tight end? On a tight end screen, Hanna made the catch and read his blocks well to get downfield and out ran Sean Lee to the end zone. Hanna also made a tough sideline catch on a back-shoulder fade. On several run plays, Hanna did a nice job holding the block to allow the runner to hit the hole or go off the edge. Escobar is a good pass-catching tight end and looked good in seven-on-seven and team drills, but he needs to work on his blocking to get more snaps.
  • Coach Jason Garrett talks about coming back from adversity, and wide receiver Tim Benford showed the head coach something. He dropped a pass over the middle after taking a hit in the back from safety Danny McCray. But Benford made two tough catches later in practice, including a leaping catch with a defender behind him.
  • Defensive end George Selvie had a good practice against the first-team offense with a sack and a quarterback pressure. Selvie, who performed well in the Hall of Fame Game, struggled in the second preseason game.
  • Safety Barry Church produced a strong practice with an interception on a deep pass. He could have blown up another play with a hard hit on the tight end.
  • In a hard-hitting practice, running back DeMarco Murray was the aggressor on several run plays. Instead of waiting for the contact, he lowered the shoulder -- and sometimes his helmet -- and ran into defenders.
  • Sometimes, the refs don't throw flags. Left tackle Tyron Smith grabbed the jersey of defensive tackle Nick Hayden in the neck area on a pass rush.

5 Wonders: More on Tony Romo sitting

August, 6, 2013
8/06/13
9:00
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OXNARD, Calif. – One preseason game is in the books and four remain, but there are plenty of things to wonder about.

So on it is to our third training camp installment of Five Wonders:

** On the grand schemes of things Tony Romo not playing a series against Miami is not that big of a deal. With issues on the offensive line and Romo’s lack of offseason work because of the back surgery, the team thought it was wiser to sit the quarterback against the Dolphins. Well, I wonder what they were thinking about in 2010 and ’11 when they didn’t sit Romo with offensive line issues when he had to play more. In 2010 at San Diego, Robert Brewster had to play right tackle with Marc Colombo and Alex Barron hurt, but Romo played four series. In 2011, the Cowboys made the decision to part ways with center Andre Gurode before they played at Minnesota and had undrafted rookie Kevin Kowalski start with Phil Costa out. It was the first time Romo took a snap from Kowalski all summer. And Kowalski was the third rookie to start that night with Bill Nagy and Tyron Smith. There was no worry that night either. Again, it’s not a huge deal that Romo didn’t play against Miami, but it’s just notable given what happened in recent history.

** Now that Larry Allen has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Charles Haley figures to be the next Cowboy to make it. Haley has been a finalist the last few years and the feeling among voters is that the question is “when” not “if” Haley will make it. But I wonder who will be the next Cowboy to take up a lifetime residence in Canton, Ohio. Perhaps Chuck Howley, Lee Roy Jordan, Cliff Harris and Drew Pearson get a look from the Veterans Committee. But what of the more-recent era Cowboys? Darren Woodson should gain consideration but the safety position has never been a popular pick among the voters. Woodson was covering slot receivers before it was fashionable for safeties to do so. He was truly ahead of his time in some ways. I’m not sure there is another 90s Era player that will get a look, but Jerry Jones will be in there one day. Maybe soon too.

** Forever, it seems, the Cowboys have found success stories in undrafted free agents: Romo, Miles Austin, Stephen Bowen and Dan Bailey are among the more recent vintage. But I wonder if there will be one undrafted free agent to make the team this year. Really. The leader would appear to be linebacker Brandon Magee, who could become a big part of the special teams’ units. Even those who haven’t seen Eric Rogers play a snap seem to think he can be Keyshawn Johnson, but the Cal Lutheran product has a lot of work to do in earning a spot. Safety Jeff Heath has been an under-the-radar guy and Jakar Hamilton, who received $10,000 to sign, has yet to make a mark in camp. There is a lot of time to make a push but right now there isn’t a lock yet.

** It’s hard to gauge just how interested the Cowboys are in Brian Waters. They know he is available, but they haven’t really put the full-court press on him just yet. Maybe they wanted to see Ronald Leary in a game before going ahead with it. But if they are going to sign Waters, I wonder if it’s too late. He did not take part in an offseason program last year and did not sign with a team. He was not with a team this offseason either. What kind of shape is he in? If the Cowboys bring Waters in, it’s not for a workout. It’s to sign him. He signed with New England in 2011 a week before the season started and ended up in the Pro Bowl. But in players’ years, that could be a lifetime ago.

** Let’s close with a game involving a 53-man roster projection. I wonder if the final spot or two comes down to a seventh linebacker, fourth running back, a 10th offensive linemen, a sixth wide receiver or a ninth defensive lineman? If that’s the case, then Magee, Phillip Tanner, Darrion Weems, Anthony Armstrong, Tim Benford, Eric Rogers or a George Selvie are fighting for one or two spots right now. Right now, I’m not sure the ninth or 10th offensive lineman is on the roster. Armstrong has had a really good camp and his speed separates him from some others. Selvie could be insurance for Anthony Spencer being banged up and helped himself with Sunday’s two-sack effort. Tanner also helped his cause. Based on what Tanner, Selvie and Armstrong did against Miami, it looks like the Cowboys will have a decision to make as opposed to trying to find players to keep.

Cowboys practice report: Day 11

August, 2, 2013
8/02/13
10:26
PM ET
OXNARD, Calif. -- In Friday's practice, the Dallas Cowboys worked on more situational plays, field goals, special teams and simulated what type of plays the Miami Dolphins might run in Sunday's Hall of Fame game.
  • Guard Mackenzy Bernadeau made his training camp debut in the afternoon. Bernadeau got snaps with the first- and second-team units at left and right guard. Bernadeau isn't expected to play in Sunday's exhibition opener, but the Cowboys want to give him as many snaps as possible to workout any potential rust.
  • Dez Bryant hardly, if ever, drops passes, but on a quick slant he let a pass hit him in the chest resulting in a drop. Bryant seemed to hurt his hand momentarily because he was shaking it as he walked to the sidelines.
  • Tony Romo finished the first two weeks of camp in strong fashion by completing 6-of-10 passes in team drills.
  • The Cowboys put left tackle Tyron Smith and left guard Ronald Leary to work on three consecutive run plays by DeMarco Murray who gained at least five yards on each run. Romo then threw a pass in the flat to Murray on the left side, and he dropped it. That was followed up by Romo connecting on a pass to Dwayne Harris.
  • Kyle Orton made some questionable throws during team drills. He badly overthrew a pass toward the corner of the end zone, then threw another pass away while looking at Anthony Armstrong.
  • >During the morning walkthrough, the first-team offense worked on taking a knee.
  • Will Bill Callahan call more tricks plays than Jason Garrett as playcaller? The Cowboys ran a reverse with Harris and a direct snap to Lance Dunbar on consecutive plays.
  • When Terrance Williams went down because of a possible concussion, Cole Beasley moved to the slot and Harris became the No. 3 receiver.
  • Tight end James Hanna returned to practice after missing nearly a week because of a strained hamstring. Hanna ran nice routes and didn't appear to have any problems.
  • DeMarcus Ware pushed Smith back into the backfield during a pass play. Smith has struggled at times this camp and this was one of those moments.
  • The defensive line is a closely-knit group. Newly signed defensive end Toby Jackson was getting some pass-rush lessons from Ware and from assistant line coach Leon Lett.
  • Linebacker Caleb McSurdy picked up a nice pass breakup on a pass from Orton to Tim Benford.
  • There's no way kicker Dan Bailey is going to lose his job, but punter Spencer Benton had a rough day attempting field goals. Benton went 1-for-6 on field-goal tries and failed to reach the goalpost on three kicks in the 40-yard range. Yet, Benton did a strong job on punting with his hang time and pinning the returner near the goal line. Harris fielded a punt at the goal line, which is considered a no-no.
  • Garrett made the players take their shoulder pads and helmets off and conduct a walkthrough in the last 30 minutes of practice. When the practice was over, Garrett met with the team and instead of a post-practice stretch, the team did jumping jacks and ended practice for the day.
  • Actor and Director Peter Berg attended practice.

Monte Kiffin pleased with scrimmage

July, 29, 2013
7/29/13
12:37
PM ET
OXNARD, Calif. -- Sunday was the first time during training camp when the Cowboys could tackle to the ground.

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Cowboys rookie Travis Frederick joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest from training camp in Oxnard, Calif.

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The Blue-White scrimmage was designed for the second-and-third teams to get more snaps in game situations. The Cowboys worked on moving the ball down field, the two-minute drill and special team coverage.

"It's huge learning a new system, moving the football up and down the field, two-minute situations, a lot of situational defenses -- it was good for us," defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said. "I thought we played good early with the first group, and the second group played really well."

Kiffin wasn't the only one pleased with Sunday's scrimmage.

"I thought it was a good pace on both sides of the ball," rookie center Travis Frederick said. "Guys were coming out and competing, and that's one of the things we wanted to do and that's what the coaches are telling us to do, and that's compete."

The defense took control of the scrimmage for the most part Sunday with the second- and third-team offenses failing to score any points. The only positive play for the offense came when quarterback Nick Stephens threw a deep pass to Tim Benford that drew a pass interference penalty on cornerback Devin Smith.

Several defensive backups, including B.W. Webb, Landon Cohen, Monte Taylor and Jerome Long, made big plays. Webb intercepted a Kyle Orton pass and returned it for a touchdown, and Cohen continued to excel as he picked up another sack.
OXNARD, Calif. – Sunday’s Blue-White scrimmage was about the younger players, and the defense was ahead of the offense.

Of the five drives, the offense had to punt four times. The best drive was the last drive that ended with a Joseph Randle touchdown run to the right. The score was set up by a pass interference penalty on Devin Smith after he got beat by wide receiver Tim Benford.

PODCAST
Tim MacMahon joins Richard Durrett and Landry Locker from Oxnard, Calif., to discuss the latest news from Cowboys training camp.

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Defensive linemen Landon Cohen, Monte Taylor and Jerome Long came up with sacks of quarterbacks Alex Tanney and Nick Stephens.

  • The prettiest play of the day would not have counted in a real game. WR Eric Rogers came down with a Hail Mary pass from Tanney in situational work, but before Tanney could get the throw off he would have been sacked by George Selvie.

  • CB B.W. Webb came up with a pick-six of QB Kyle Orton on the final two-minute drill for the second-teamers. Webb read Orton’s eyes wide to the flat and was able to leap for the pick and head down field untouched.

  • CB Sterling Moore came up with a terrific breakup of a corner route from Tanney to TE Dante Rosario. Tanney’s pass was in perfect position but as Rosario reached for the ball, Moore ripped the tight end’s hands down for the incompletion.

  • Earlier Moore broke up a throw to Benford to set up a 53-yard field goal try by Dan Bailey. After missing a game-winning try earlier, Bailey drilled the 53-yarder. Bailey has missed only two kicks in camp.

  • WR Terrance Williams is starting to develop a nice feel for the middle of the field. He and Tony Romo were able to connect on a few crossing routes, with a good throw just over the linebackers but underneath the secondary for a first down in two-minute work. Unfortunately for the offense, DeMarcus Ware had a sack of Romo on the net play, forcing a Hail Mary that did not connect.

  • Romo was sharp, completing 14 of 19 passes in team and 7-on-7 drills. He threw touchdown passes to Jason Witten and Miles Austin and went 5-of-7 on one drive that ended in a Bailey game winner.

  • WR Dwayne Harris helped prevent a Romo pick by turning into a defensive back on a throw to the sideline and knocking the pass away from CB Brandon Carr.

  • Rookie S J.J. Wilcox loves to hit. His aggressiveness got him in trouble when he hit Benford too late. Five years ago it might not have been a penalty, but it is now. On the next play Wilcox brought it on TE Andre Smith to slow down a screen.
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