NFL Nation: Tanard Davis
ARLINGTON, Texas -- When Jeff Fisher tosses and turns, this is the kind of football game unfolding in his head.
Dallas is up 14-10 at the half of a preseason opener that's the first football played at Cowboys Stadium
If possession (or yardage) produced points, Dallas would be blowing the Titans out. Overall in the first half, Dallas moved 249 net yards in 22:13, the Titans 78 in 7:47.
The Titans had hoped to get Vince Young some time with the first team offense, but as it only got 17 plays, he didn't make it off the bench -- except for when Fisher sent the Titans who played their college ball at Texas to midfield as captains before the game.
A few other thoughts:
- Javon Ringer returned 15 kicks as a collegian, none as long as his first-quarter 51 yarder, when he bounced to the left sideline and took off. He continues to impress and will be able to contribute in a number of ways. On the Titans' next special teams play, he was lined up second from the right on the kickoff coverage unit. His 16-yard run with the first team offense late in the first quarter was a thing of beauty too. He had a nice one-handed catch too. Don't want to read too much into it, but as we've been talking about Nate Washington and Jared Cook upping the dynamic weapons. Kenny Britt's going to be on that list, and Ringer could be working his way on it too. At this early stage, the draft class is looking quite impressive.
- With Vincent Fuller (hamstring) and Ryan Mouton (ankle) out, Tanard Davis was the first nickel. On a third-and-3 against Patrick Crayton in the slot, Davis allowed for too much separation and Crayton crossed to the left and caught a 15-yard pass. A bit later Davis gave up a 9-yard pass to Crayton and Dallas converted the resulting fourth-and-1. The Titans aren't three deep at nickel right now. Ultimately someone with a better chance at a roster spot -- DeMarcus Faggins, Cary Williams or Jason McCourty -- needs to be ready to go there in an emergency.
- Chris Johnson has 3 yards on two carries and one catch for no gain. But it continues to be clear that the Titans aren't doing anything schematically to help spring him. On a first-and-15 in the first quarter, Collins threw to him short on the right and he was swarmed by -- I promise I am not exaggerating -- five Cowboys without a Titan any where nearby to even try to throw a block. Come meaningful games, they will be doing far, far more to get him into space.
- Everything is big here, except the small corner pieces of ribbon boards where the Cowboys post the down and distance. I got a headache trying to read it. Have any Tylenol?
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- I took a great interest in a drill Sunday that pitted linebackers against running backs in a pass protection scenario.
I thought Stephen Tulloch was especially impressive going against the Titans running backs in the team's first practice in shoulder pads.
Here's a mini-breakdown of some of the matchups:
- Ryan Fowler ran right over Chris Johnson, and later said he intended to bull rush, which is a bit of a no-no in this scenario. He said Johnson was on him quickly and he simply did the only thing he could, not meaning to circumvent protocol.
- Tulloch just clobbered Chris Henry, who held up better in a rematch.
- Javon Ringer got beat by Colin Allred.
- After a false start, Quinton Ganther did well against Josh Stamer.
- Stanford Keglar blew past Rodney Ferguson II, which prompted Ahmard Hall to tell Ferguson "don't just stop."
- David Thornton dominated Rafael Little.
- Keith Bulluck got to the tackling dummy serving as the quarterback quickly, but Hall held him up, maybe long enough to qualify as a win.
- Keglar beat Henry to the outside.
- Ganther did well versus Gerald McGrath.
After practice, I was considering my notes/scorecard and sought clarification from running back coach Earnest Byner on what amounted to a win on a snap of the drill.
"If a guy gets good contact, shows the ability to get on a guy and then tries to run him by, that's pretty good," he said. "In that drill, the defense is supposed to win. That's really a defensive drill. If a guy can get any contact and maintain the contact for like two seconds, that's a win."
A couple important notes for context:
If they weren't on the line of scrimmage, the backs lined up very close to it. In game situations they wouldn't be so close to the defender they need to block at the snap. At a practice the backs are without one major tool -- the cut block that would take a linebacker's legs out and put him on the ground. Ganther said ideally a back will push the rusher outside, buying a quarterback who is stepping up in the pocket additional time.
"It's much easier in a game," Byner said. "You have the ability to cut block, you have the ability to use your line a little more. If you can block in that drill, the game is easy. I thought the guys did well. They sit tight, hard to the defender. I wanted that. I didn't want them to sit and be cautious and not do anything. I wanted the aggression, and I was pleased with that. We can learn from that."
Some other practice observations:
- Cornerback Tanard Davis, who finished last year on the practice squad, had a strong afternoon and has been good so far, though working against lesser players. He muscled his way in front of Chris Davis to intercept a short Vince Young pass in one-on-ones. Later, in a team period he moved in front of Paul Williams to grab another pass from Young.
- Rob Bironas, who was due back from his mystery injury, did not return. Fisher continued to decline to say what the injury was, on a day when Kenny Britt talked openly about the right hamstring that landed him on PUP. If Bironas' injury is so insignificant, than why wouldn't it be shared? It gives us all reason to believe something odd is up.
- Britt is still dealing with a right hamstring issue, so he starts out on the PUP list. Fisher didn't quite rule Britt out of the Hall of Fame Game against Buffalo, but said it's "probably unlikely." Britt sounded pretty upbeat. Fisher made it sound as if a week would be the most Britt misses.
- Jared Cook went to the ground to scoop a Young pass. He has made a lot of catches on the run or going up to get the ball, and I took note that he also looked comfortable going to the ground.
- During a two minute drill period, a sliding Nate Washington caught a Kerry Collins pass on the right with Chris Hope and Nick Harper closing. It was too close to call as to whether Washington had his right knee down in bounds before his left leg crossed the sideline. Both sides pleaded with Fisher, who got a shout out from Hope when he came to a quick verdict and the sides "split the difference" on the gain. The drive produced an Alge Crumpler touchdown catch.
- Paul Williams made a very nice, spinning, leaping sideline catch.
- Jovan Haye stepped up and crushed Henry on a carry the back tried to take up the middle.
- Ringer looks a lot better in pads, and a lot better than he did in OTAs.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Rams' released 10 players in anticipation of the 53-man roster limit, which goes into effect Saturday.
I've singled out eight of them on our chart of Rams players with practice-squad eligibility. The eighth and ninth players released, veteran safety Jerome Carter, and cornerback Tanard Davis, have no such eligibility.
Expect the Rams to make their remaining cuts before the 6 p.m. ET deadline Saturday.
The Rams are carrying 66 players once they move Steven Jackson to the active roster from the exempt list.
Die-hard alert: Updated roided-out NFC West rosters here.Earlier: The chart shows each of the Rams' players with practice-squad eligibility, according to the team.
Practice-squad rules can be confusing, and exceptions sometimes apply to relatively experienced players.
I've categorized each player based on his perceived likelihood of earning a spot on the 53-man roster. Those are rough characterizations. Teams still have not made decisions. It's conceivable that a player listed as a "keeper" could face his release.
6:00 PM ET Atlanta Jacksonville 7:00 PM ET Detroit Buffalo 7:00 PM ET Indianapolis Cincinnati 7:00 PM ET New York Philadelphia 7:00 PM ET St. Louis Miami 7:00 PM ET Kansas City Green Bay 7:30 PM ET Carolina Pittsburgh 7:30 PM ET New England New York 7:30 PM ET Washington Tampa Bay 8:00 PM ET Baltimore New Orleans 8:00 PM ET Chicago Cleveland 8:00 PM ET San Francisco Houston 8:00 PM ET Minnesota Tennessee 8:00 PM ET Denver Dallas 10:00 PM ET Arizona San Diego 10:00 PM ET Seattle Oakland