Dallas Cowboys: Antwan Odom

Scout's Eye: Hall of Fame Game review

August, 10, 2010
Here are the things that stood out when I studied the Hall of Fame Game:

*Offensive tackle Doug Free was able to carry over the nice two weeks of camp that he had in San Antonio into the game against the Bengals.

Free was patient, athletic and played with power. His footwork was solid and his hand placement was dead on. Free showed the ability to adjust on the move and mirror Antwan Odom without any difficulty. When he had to get push in the running game, he was able to work his hands inside and play with leverage.

There is a real ease of movement in his game. He did not play out of balance or on the edge at all.

*With Marcus Spears out of the game with a knee injury, it was an opportunity for Jason Hatcher and Stephen Bowen to get some work with the first group. Was impressed with Bowen and not with Hatcher.

Bowen was an up-the-field player and was a huge factor in the pass rush with his ability to work in the games that Phillips was using against the Bengals in passing situations. Bowen was relentless in his effort to get to Palmer and O’Sullivan.

Bowen played with nice technique the running game as well. He can be difficult to handle when he is on the move. Bowen has a feel for how to free himself from blocks.

Thought it was a missed chance for Hatcher. Like the player and what he brings, but there were limited flashes as compared to Bowen. Hatcher didn’t play off the blocks as well.

Don’t know if his elbow might have been a factor, but he seemed to get tied up at times. Didn’t see him control the blocker like he had in the past. Know he is a better pass rusher than what he showed.

Hatcher was a solid nickel player in 2009. Needs to play better with this chance.

*Outside linebacker Victor Butler was all over the field on Sunday night. Run or pass, it didn’t matter.

Butler plays with high effort, motor and intensity. Butler is always chasing the ball and he knows how to finish plays. He is a difficult player to block because he keeps coming at you. He doesn’t take plays off.

Butler was solid in coverage in showing the ability to adjust to the back in the flat and drive on the ball to make the play.

As a pass rusher, he plays with a burst to and around the corner. He doesn’t give blockers much of a hitting surface as he rushes. Able to move and twist his body on the move without losing speed.

The area you that you have to like the most about this player is that he is always around the action.

*Thought that Mike Hamlin played well at safety, but the player that caught my eye was rookie Danny McCray.

McCray was having a quiet camp until the lights came on at Fawcett Stadium. Watched him in practice as special teams coach Joe DeCamillis worked him on several units but really didn’t think much of it. McCray showed the ability to release off the two-man jam as the “gunner” and make two tackles in the second quarter on the punt team.

On defense, McCray showed some good awareness to read quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan as wide receiver Andre Caldwell went vertical and from the middle of the field was able to work himself into position to make the interception that ended the half for the Bengals. If there was an area that the Cowboys struggled with in 2009, it was their ability for the safeties to show range and make plays on the ball. McCray gave the coaches some hope that might change.

Liked the way that McCray also showed physical play in the flat. Ball goes to the outside, and he is coming forward, driving the ball carrier out of bounds.

In my book, McCray went from a player that might not have been a factor to one you have to keep your eye on the next four games.

*Just from what I have seen in camp and what took place during the game, this club can not afford an injury to any of their inside offensive linemen on the first unit.

I know that guard Montrae Holland was out with a hamstring injury, but that doesn’t change my view at all. To see Pat McQuistan and Mike Tepper struggle is a cause for concern.

Granted, Tepper is only a rookie but there were far too many plays where he was overextended and off-balance and unable to sustain his blocks. McQuistan will fight you, but he really is limited. There are times where he also gets overextended and really struggles when he has to deal with a power rusher. McQuistan really has a hard time getting any type of movement in the running game.

Quarterback Stephen McGee was required to move in the pocket way too often because of breakdowns inside.

I didn’t feel like that Travis Bright and Phil Costa played poorly at center, which was somewhat of a bright spot here.

Scout's Eye: Hall of Fame Game preview

August, 8, 2010
Five things to watch in the Hall of Fame Game:

*The first offense and defense will get a couple of series at the most. The most important areas to watch here is timing and execution of the plays or defense called.

The last thing you want is to come out and look sloppy with your frontline players. On offense, fumbled snaps, dropped passes, missed blocks or poor assignments lead to unproductive plays and waste the limited time the squad is on the field. Ideally, you want Tony Romo to enjoy a clean pocket to make his throws. Unnecessary hits and having to avoid potential sacks are never good signs. You want your offense to have a rhythm. You want to see the line blocking, the receivers running good routes, and the backs having vision to hit the holes. Jason Garrett and the offensive coaches want it all to come together in that short time.

On defense, you don’t want blown assignments, The goal should be to line up correctly and play sound technique. Getting off blocks, defending passes and most importantly, not allowing big plays will be the key.

The young players on the second and third teams will make mistakes but you really want to build continuity and confidence with your ones.

*Offensive tackle Doug Free has enjoyed a productive two weeks of camp.

On a daily basis, he has worked against two of the better rushers in the NFL in DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. Free has improved each day and Wade Phillips has called him the most consistent offensive linemen in the camp to this point. Free’s footwork and technique has been solid and he appears more comfortable working now on the left side.

Free will have the opportunity to work against two veteran defensive ends in Antwan Odom and Frostee Rucker for the Bengals. Odom is a nice pass rusher but has been banged up a little in camp and has missed some time so he might actually see more of Rucker.

*The pre season will be No. 3 quarterback Stephen McGee’s time to shine.

The club knows what they have in backup Jon Kitna, so the bigger question is whether McGee be that “quarterback of the future.” Wade Phillips said that he is trying to develop McGee in that manner.

There are some traits to like in McGee. He does have a strong arm, he is mobile and is intelligent.

If McGee does struggle, it’s that he needs to do things quicker. The quarterback clock in his head needs to move faster.

During practice, you can see Jason Garrett and Wade Wilson working with him. Stephen McGee will get the opportunity to prove he belongs and trust me, the front office and the coaches will be watching him every step of the way this summer.

*Nose tackles Josh Brent and Junior Siavii are now in a battle for that backup position behind Jay Ratliff.

Brent has been impressive in the three practices that he has had. Siavii has been steady but is limited as a player. Brent has quickness, power and is a better pass rusher. Siavii has power and does a decent job against the run.

Brent, in my view, has much better upside than Siavii and the way that Brent plays this preseason could put Junior on the street.

*Kicker David Buehler has been impressive in his attempt to win over the front office and the coaches with his ability to be the club’s starting kicker. There is no doubt when you watch Buehler on a daily basis that he has tremendous leg strength and power off his foot.

Now the real test has arrived, the preseason games. Buehler needs to be consistent and take advantage of every opportunity he gets in these games.

In the OTAs and minicamps this spring, I saw an inconsistent kicker that struggled to even make the simplest of kicks. The slightest bit of struggle will force the Cowboys to have to make a decision on his future as the placekicker.

There is a plan in place if Buehler fails and these pre season games will determine that.