My thoughts from Tuesday’s practice:
*The scout in me wants cornerback Bryan McCann to make this team.
McCann has come in and done everything that Dave Campo and Brett Maxie have asked him to do. He has played with quickness, smarts and competitiveness. McCann has shined against the club’s top receivers on a daily basis and has done well in the Cowboys three preseason games.
McCann is one of my bubble players and has been for the last couple of weeks. The problem McCann faces is that he is in a secondary where fellow rookies Barry Church and Danny McCray have also proved that they belong on this final 53 as well.
McCann is a talented player, but he also plays a position where the Cowboys have three outstanding corners in Newman, Jenkins and Scandrick. Cletis Gordon, who makes an interception a day, has locked down the fourth corner spot. Alan Ball and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah are safeties that can also play outside as well.
In this secondary, the numbers don’t favor McCann.
If he is released and he clears waivers, he will find a spot on the practice squad with Jamar Wall. On the practice squad, both McCann and Wall will benefit from working on a daily basis against receivers like Austin, Bryant and Crayton, so that will be a positive experience.
As much as I want this team to carry five corners and five safeties, I now believe that it’s going the route of four corners and six safeties with the position flexibility coming from Ball and Owusu-Ansah.
Maybe there are other Bryan McCann’s out there that you can find next year if he doesn’t make it to the practice squad. There were several years where the evaluation of defensive backs on this squad was poor, but it now appears that the Cowboys scouting staff is going the right way.
*Tuesday was the first day that the Cowboys had practiced in pads since last Wednesday. After two straight practices of hats and jerseys, it was nice to see them working in helmets and shoulder pads.
I always feel like this team gets more out of this dress than when they go without the pads. The half speed correction practices are necessary, but this team does a good job of working and protecting each other when they have the pads on.
When this team practices in hats and jerseys, it tends to look sloppy and unfocused. When you see this team practice in pads, your see the development of the scheme and the execution of the plays. To me, corrections are easier to make because you see the play being run how it was meant to be.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Tony Romo on our nightly “Training Camp Report” on 103.3 FM ESPN and ask him if the practices that Wade Phillips and the staff put together difficult enough to get this team ready.
Romo, being the old-school player that he is, said that practicing is never difficult for him and he enjoys it but you also have to take into account that he has teammates that play positions in the offensive and defensive line that endure constant banging and contact. Those big bodies get worn down so you have to be smart.
Romo makes a good point, Phillips does have to try and protect his guys for the long season but the work is better when this team is in its shoulder pads and helmets
*Noticed something new at practice today, with all the knee injuries to the offensive linemen (Colombo and Kosier) in practice, all the linemen were wearing their knee braces in shorts.
Usually when the team has a helmet and shoulder pads practice, the line will take the field without their braces. This practice of going onto the field without their braces appears will no longer be the case.
How important are these knee braces? I remember a game when I was working for the club when offensive tackle Flozell Adams came into the locker room at halftime with what appeared to be a knee injury. The play looked bad from the press box and I feared the worst. As Adams was sitting on the training table and the doctors were working on him, there was no structural damage and Adams was able to gather himself and return for the second half.
I remember trainer Britt Brown showing me the brace that was on Adams’ knee that day and it was bent and twisted. It truly was a miracle that we didn’t lose Adams to a serious knee injury. Without that brace, the scouting staff would be searching for the impossible task of finding a starting left tackle for the remainder of the season.
This training staff is usually ahead of the curve when it comes to injuries. This is just another example of their form of preventive medicine.