OXNARD, Calif. -- Wednesday marked the first day of pads during Cowboys training camp, so we’ll have an over-stuffed number of observations.
** You can get a better sense of offensive line play with pads finally on. Before suffering a knee injury, Nate Livings did a nice job sealing off ILB Orie Lemon for a decent gain by Phillip Tanner. Line coach Bill Callahan thought the line did a nice job coming off the snap for the first day in pads. The pass protection, however, was a little spotty. RG David Arkin did a nice job of warding off LB Bruce Carter on a DeMarco Murray run that would’ve been a first down.
** LB DeMarcus Ware was able to get a sack and a pressure of Tony Romo on back-to-back plays after using his speed to get around Tyron Smith and then his power. DE Jason Hatcher had two sacks, including one in which he slid past C Phil Costa to get Romo.
** While Hatcher would have had sacks, those plays continued and one resulted in a Brandon Carr interception in which he ripped the ball away from WR Kevin Ogletree. CB Morris Claiborne tipped the first pass, but as he was falling to the ground WR Dwayne Harris was able to make the catch.
** For the second straight day S Barry Church had an interception on Romo, which came after he was able to break up a slightly late throw to TE Jason Witten. Church has been one of the better defenders so far in camp.
** Best drill of camp so far: wide receivers and corners working on press coverage. Because it came closer to the fans, the players might have been more hyped. WR Dez Bryant was able to shrug off CB Morris Claiborne twice, but the rookie came back on the last rep and did a nice job slowing Bryant off the line. Secondary coach Jerome Henderson kept reiterating he wanted the corners to stay on top of the receiver. This corner group will be more physical at the line than in recent years.
** He gave up a deep ball to WR Raymond Radway, but it should be noted that Claiborne rebounded from that big play with a nice breakup of a back shoulder pass to Bryant from Romo.
** Romo’s best throw of the day might have been his second when you factor in the pressure he faced as well as the tight window in which he was throwing the ball. Needing Bryant to clear free for a split second, Romo stepped up into the pocket and delivered a ball over a linebacker and purposely low where only Bryant could make the catch with Claiborne on his back.
** Too many false starts by the offense. The first team had three in an eight-play span in the first two team periods. The second-team offense had one.
** WR Tim Benford has had a nice start to camp, but it might take some time for people to forget his drop when he was unable to hold on to an Orton deep ball with no defender within 15 yards. CB C.J. Wilson and S Eddie Whitely had a miscommunication that led to the breakdown but were bailed out.
** NT Josh Brent was slow to get up on an Ed Wesley run after he was hit from the side. He did not miss a snap.
** Rookie OLB Kyle Wilber took advantage of Wesley on one play with one of the bigger hits of the practice on the TCU-ex. The hit was made easier after DE Tyrone Crawford slipped through the line to slow down the running play.
** S Mana Silva had an active day on defense and on special teams. He opened it up in the blue practice with a pass breakup of Stephen McGee, reading a slant to WR Saalim Hakim. During special teams, he had one would-be tackle on punt coverage and was able to shed Tanner twice in blocking drills. Against Kyle Orton, he showed great range in batting down a throw to Harris.
** Ogletree made sure he went through a drill the right way after dropping a pass in individual drills. Instead of waiting his turn as the receivers changed routes, Ogletree went back to the end of line and made the catch before moving on.
** TE John Nalbone did not practice in the afternoon because of personal reasons.