My thoughts from the Saturday practice:
*The media had a chance to meet with Wade Phillips before the afternoon practice in Oxnard. There were several things that Phillips said that were interesting, but the one I want to focus on is when he spoke of how well wide receiver Jesse Holley was playing on special teams.
Phillips is trying to tell us something here. This staff is seriously looking into replacing Sam Hurd with Holley and he is planting that seed to be ready when it happens.
Receivers coach Ray Sherman also had high praise for Holley after the morning practice, saying that Holley’s work on the practice squad and scout team in 2009 prepared him for this opportunity.
Do the Cowboys feel that Holley has more upside as a receiver than Hurd? Or is the fact that Holley will make about $1.5 million dollars less than Hurd put him on this roster for “playing well on special teams?”
Holley has been good on teams and he has lined up in some roles that Hurd normally plays. Despite the fact that Hurd had a productive game against the Raiders as a receiver, this still might not be enough to save his job.
*It had to be nice for the defensive staff to once again have linebacker Sean Lee on the field for practice.
Lee will be called on to play the all-important role of the nickel linebacker on this defense and the time he missed would have put him way behind. Do not feel like this is a case at all. In studying Lee, I thought he moved around well. When the squad went to team drills, in pass coverage other than one rep where he allowed a receiver to cross inside and behind him, he was solid on his responsibilities.
There is a lot to like about Lee, but there are two areas that really stand out to me.
One, Lee is always working for the perfect play. You can see that football is important to him through his effort and preparation. It bothered Lee that he made that mistake in coverage but on the next opportunity, although the ball did not come his way, he was able to maintain position in the route and put himself in good shape if it did.
For a rookie in the defense, Lee knows his assignments and those of the other linebackers. In pre-snap, Felix Jones motioned right to left outside the formation, Lee was there to point Jason Williams to bump outside and pick up the coverage. Here was a rookie having the awareness to make a defensive adjustment to keep the coverage intact.
Smart football players will always get a chance to make plays on Sundays.
This is not to say that Brewster is a throwaway, but there is plenty of work that needs to be done, maybe even a move inside to guard might be in the works.
Young started off this camp with the offensive coaches wanting him to do a better job of coming off the ball. He has made some progress in this area. Young is not pretty technique wise but his effort has been good to try and finish blocks.
Center Phil Costa does not have your classic body build for the position, but I have been impressed with the way he has battled inside, which has allowed the coaches to move Travis Bright from center to guard.
Costa is a short-armed player, which can be trouble. You need to have that ability to get defenders off your body and especially at center where you are one-handed anyways.
Bright is a powerful guy, but it looks like he is more comfortable at the guard than as the center. Montrae Holland returned to practice and didn’t seem to have any further problems with the hamstring.
Still have a feeling that the Cowboys will carry 10 offensive linemen this season. My guess is your five starters, Barron, Holland, Brewster, Young and Costa.