- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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OXNARD, Calif. – The Cowboys opened training camp practices Sunday afternoon with a brief welcome celebration that included performances by the team’s cheerleaders, but a planned skydiving skit was scrapped because of the overcast weather.
Instead, Rowdy handed the game ball to the Oxnard mayor to get things going.
And now on to far more important details:
Tony Romo's first completion of the practice went to WR Dez Bryant on an underneath route after Bryant beat CB Brandon Carr to the spot. Carr rebounded on the next play by knocking away a Romo throw to WR Terrance Williams.
The structure of practice has changed with the new coaches. The main special teams drills are now run in the middle of the workout instead of at the beginning. The first part of practice is for rookies and selected veterans, with the full team getting together after 30 minutes.
New defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin is stressing turnovers. In the morning walkthrough, S Matt Johnson and LB Ernie Sims came up with interceptions. LB Sean Lee intercepted Romo on a tipped ball in the afternoon and S Barry Church and CB Brandon Underwood had fumble recoveries on back to back plays in the afternoon.
C Travis Frederick had one poor exchange with Romo on the day but was clean otherwise. What the rookie needs to work on his staying off the ground. He was looking up way to often after getting knocked off balance. The obvious danger is injury to teammates during practice.
Jason Garrett did something he probably hasn’t done since 2004 as a player: take snaps at quarterback. He worked as the scout-team QB vs. the defense in on-air drills in the afternoon and completed all four passes. His best throw came on a screen to CB Morris Claiborne, who was a receiver on the play.
DE DeMarcus Ware looked like, well, Ware, even at a new position. The most impressive play? He nearly batted down a screen pass to DeMarco Murray at the line of scrimmage and then was able to track down the running back from behind.
WR Dwayne Harris had a poor moment in the morning walkthrough when he ran the wrong route, earning an "Are you kidding me?” from Garrett. In the afternoon he was able to break free on a bubble screen, zig-zagging his way through the defense.
QB Kyle Orton was sharper in his first training camp practice than he was in the minicamp when he was taking the first-team snaps in Romo’s absence. He was able to place a pass just over Johnson to Harris on the sideline and do the same to LB DeVonte Holloman on a throw to Cole Beasley.
Holloman made an athletic interception of Orton earlier, dropping in coverage and leaping to come down with the pick in front of TE Andre Smith.
RB Lance Dunbar was particularly sharp. In team run drills, Dunbar was able to zip through the first-team defense on his first carry and then jitter through traffic on his second. He took the second-team work behind Murray with Phillip Tanner getting the next look. Rookie Joseph Randle was the fourth back in his first practice since the draft because of a thumb injury.