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.
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.
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.
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.