OXNARD, Calif. -- It was interesting to see The Big Three -- or perhaps now the Cowboys' Remedial Four -- running conditioning drills Tuesday.
Here's a recap:
*During the early portions of the afternoon practice, Mike Jenkins joined Andre Holmes, Brodney Pool and Felix Jones for some running. Jones, Holmes and Pool failed their conditioning tests Sunday and are tentatively scheduled to run them again on Wednesday. We're calling them The Big Three. The four ran 60 yards but are supposed to complete it in eight seconds. Coach Jason Garrett said The Big Three have to do some remedial running. In some of the early runs, Jenkins almost fell down, but he looked smooth in completing some of the runs once he got himself together. Holmes did a good job of finishing the tests as he was among the first players to complete it. Jones and Pool also looked pretty good in running the 60 yards, and if all goes well, the Big Three of Holmes, Pool and Jones should complete the conditioning tests.
*Want to pick a young player who will emerge onto the 53-man roster? Try defensive end Clifton Geathers. He's got long arms and his 6-foot-7, 325 pound frame makes him a difficult player to throw screens over when he rushes off the edges. Geathers had two sacks Tuesday and was a force along the defensive line. Geathers is quick off the ball and continues to get post-practice work with former Cowboy Leon Lett. Geathers is still with the second and third teams, but he's pushing Marcus Spears for a roster spot along with Sean Lissemore.
*Dez Bryant is having a strong start to training camp. When covered by Morris Claiborne, he's doing what's necessary against a rookie -- beating him up. Bryant gets off Claiborne's jam because he knows how to use his hands effectively and he's stronger than the rookie. Tony Romo completed a nice deep pass to Bryant as he beat Claiborne's jam in the afternoon practice. However, when Bryant faces Brandon Carr, the results aren't as consistent. Sometimes Bryant can't get past Carr because he just smothers him at the line of scrimmage. You can see why the Cowboys signed Carr; his strong upper body allows him to keep receivers contained and he can control where they want to start their routes.
*There was a stretch during the 7-on-7 period where Romo was upset with everything on the offense. After Phillip Tanner failed to hold onto a Romo pass -- he was stripped by Barry Church -- the quarterback said, "Someone pick it up, let's go." Before the next play, Romo yelled, "Pick it up." Romo then completed a pass to fullback Lawrence Vickers in the flat and he ran down the sidelines untouched. Then Jason Witten slipped past Orie Lemon down the middle of the field for a long completion. It seemed the offense picked up after Romo barked.
*Doug Free was tested last year at left tackle and is enduring some challenges now that he's back to the right side. He failed to hold the block on a run play leading to a tackle for loss. But on the next play, Free did a good job holding off DeMarcus Ware, who spun around twice on a pass rush. Free kept his feet moving and Ware in front of him. Victor Butler came charging off the edge on another play and Free was strong in holding him off.
*With Pool out, coaches and scouts have had a chance to watch Church more. He had an interception Tuesday and was very active on the defensive end. We're not sure if Pool will get first-team snaps when he returns to practice, but right now Church is the favorite to win the starting gig.
*Injuries have slowed the center battle. Phil Costa has looked pretty good at times, but injuries to Kevin Kowalski and Bill Nagy have slowed the competition. For now, Costa is getting the majority of the first-team snaps at center with Harland Gunn getting the second-team reps.
*Jenkins' absence has created openings on the second team defense at corner. Teddy Williams, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (who had an interception on Tuesday) and C.J. Wilson have been paired up the most with Orlando Scandrick on the second-team.