SAN ANTONIO -- The Cowboys held their Blue-White Scrimmage on Sunday afternoon with a mix of some good and bad.
There were players that stepped up to the challenge that needed to prove to the front office and coaches that their spots on this team are either secure or a maybe a move was needed. Let’s start with how the young right side of the offensive line played. Tyron Smith and David Arkin impressed with what they were able to accomplish in the scrimmage.
Smith was matched up against Anthony Spencer and was solid with his ability to get movement in the running game and as a pass protector. The more I get the opportunity to see Smith play live, the more I understand why he was the top-rated tackle in the draft by teams across the league. His ease of movement and patience is impressive.
Usually rookie offensive linemen will struggle with technique, overextend and have problems keeping their balance. Smith’s play has improved each day.
Arkin doesn’t have the prettiest technique, but he shows the ability to play on his feet and stay after his man. He has an advantage in this scheme over Montrae Holland because Arkin can pull, trap and get on the edge. With him in the lineup, the team is more athletic on the front.
At receiver, Kevin Ogletree was at his best. Routes were solid, buying space and separation. Hands didn’t let him down. It was the first time in a camp where he played like he was trying to be a part of the mix.
A player in my view that took a step back was Raymond Radway. To this point in camp, Radway was battling for a roster spot in many observers’ eyes. I have maintained all along that if Radway was able to find his way onto the practice squad it would be an accomplishment. He drew two pass interference calls, but he also should have made a catch on a ball that glanced off his hands in the end zone.
If you want to make the squad, you have to make those types of plays. Players make the roster by making plays. Radway will have more opportunities in the preseason games in the coming weeks.
At quarterback, Tony Romo threw the ball as well as he had thrown all camp. He was accurate after being awful on Saturday. Protection was solid and receivers were getting open.
Romo has had to deal with Rob Ryan and his blitz scheme on a daily basis throughout camp. On Sunday, Romo was in total command mentally and physically.
On the defensive side of the ball, I was not impressed with the way Ryan’s group started. Jason Garrett’s play calling was aggressive and had Ryan on his heels in many snaps. Garrett was making Ryan defend the whole field with screens and downfield passes. The offensive line was able to get movement and create lanes.
As the scrimmage wore on, Ryan was able to settle his guys down and play with better resolve.
In the secondary, with the injury to Terence Newman and Orlando Scandrick filling in at that spot, watch the play of Alan Ball. Ball, who moved back to corner from safety, comes into the game when Ryan goes to his nickel. Bryan McCann is playing well enough that if Ball struggles, McCann could step into that role on the outside.
At linebacker, two college free agents impressed: outside linebacker Alex Albright and inside linebacker Orie Lemon. Albright has played well at the point of attack against the run. He understands how to use his hands, play with leverage and get off blocks. Lemon shows up in the physical part of the game. Have noticed him in 9-on-7 drills and in team periods. He has a nose for the football and is stout enough taking on blockers.
With the age and uncertain situation at inside linebacker with Bruce Carter, there is a side of me that believes that if Lemon plays well on special teams, he might make himself difficult to cut. Watch what happens there as we work through the preseason.
Speaking of preseason, keep an eye on this kicking battle. It appears now that David Buehler and Dan Bailey are both trying to lose the job. Never been a huge fan of Buehler. Was warming up to Bailey, but he has shown that he can miss field goals just as easy as Buehler.
Bailey was clearly the front runner for the job a week ago, but now has created a sense of doubt. Will four preseason games be enough to decide this? Stay tuned.