OXNARD, Calif. – The last full practice of training camp was a no-pads affair that featured a lot of scout-team work run at less than full speed.
Some notable stuff from a practice that wasn’t exactly exciting:
*Cornerback Orlando Scandrick left practice after bloodying – and perhaps breaking – his nose when he made a diving deflection of a pass intended for Terrell Hudgins. Scandrick isn’t expected to miss Saturday’s game, but we saw the Cowboys’ backup plan for the nickel corner.
Fourth-round pick Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, whose primary focus is free safety, replaced Scandrick with the first-team nickel package.
“I think he knows what we’re doing,” secondary coach Dave Campo said of the rookie, who has 4.32 speed and played a lot of corner in college. “He just needs to get out there and play.”
If Scandrick got injured in a game, the Cowboys would likely put Cletis Gordon on the outside and let Terence Newman play the slot in the substitution packages. Newman played the slot before Scandrick arrived in 2007. However, Campo said the coaches want to evaluate the young players in that position.
Second-round pick Sean Lee was expected to replace Bobby Carpenter in that role. But Wade Phillips said Lee is still trying to get the base defense down after missing 13 practices and two preseason games due to a strained quadriceps. Lee is starting with Keith Brooking sidelined the rest of the preseason, and it’s a lot to ask a rookie to play every snap.
“It’s a different type position,” Phillips said of the nickel linebacker role. “Different learning involved, different techniques involved and different abilities involved. We’re looking at all aspects and all guys that we think can fill that role.”
Mike Hamlin is another candidate, but he’s starting at strong safety with Gerald Sensabaugh out. Brooking performed well in the nickel the first two preseason games, but Phillips is hesitant to ask a 35-year-old to never leave the field.
“I think both of those guys can do it,” Phillips said, referring to James and Brooking. “I just don’t know if I want them to play every play. They’re very valuable on first and second down. If we have somebody who can come in and spell those guys, we’d like to that.”