Friday, July 31, 2009

My Impressions from Training Camp

I attended my first training camp practice of the year today and I'll do my best to describe what I saw while I was there. One thing you'll notice, as I did early on, is that my camera takes horrible pictures. I posted a couple that came out ok, but there rest of them were too fuzzy to make out. Here are my quick thoughts from today. I am planning to go into more detail over the next few days on some of these topics, but I wanted to get everything down while it was fresh in my mind.

Roy Williams looks good. He is much quicker, faster, and confident then he appeared last year. He made some tough catches with defenders draped all over him. Michael Irvin was also giving him some pointers after a 10-yard comeback route on the art of the push off so hopefully he was taking notes (the picture to the right captures part of the discussion between Irvin and Williams).

Tony Romo looked very good. According to most media sources, Romo had been off to a slow start over the first few days. Today his passes were tight spirals and most of them hit receivers on target and in stride. He forced one pass during team drill that was intercepted but that was the only memorable mistake he made over the 2 hour practice session.

Jason Witten is getting better every season. He looked like an all-pro player today. He caught every ball thrown his way and did an excellent job blocking from what I saw. He lined up on one play at wide receiver during team drills and caught a 10 yard slant route that may have been a touchdown in a live game situation.

Orlando Scandrick and Mike Jenkins both looked awfully good. Both players clearly have more confidence and seemed to be able to stick with any receiver throughout practice. Scandrick had some trouble with the size of Roy Williams, but most DB's would.

The rookie DB's have a long way to go. Michael Hawkins walked off the field with the trainers pretty early on, but DeAngelo Smith and Mike Mickens looked overmatched in one-on-one situations. I'm sure they'll get more confidence as camp goes on but they didn't impress me today. Michael Hamlin was the lone exception for the rookie DB's. He looked bigger than I expected and he made a nice interception during practice.

Gerald Sensabaugh has great coverage ability. Martellus Bennett couldn't beat him in man coverage several times during the team portion of practice. He'll be a major upgrade in coverage over Roy Williams.

Kyle Kosier looks good. He might end up winning the left guard job after all. I was leaning towards Holland before today but Holland looked fatter than last year to me and Kosier did a good job with the first team.

Martellus Bennett needs to focus on football. He spent his first 10 minutes on the field playing the crowd, dancing, and doing T.O. touchdown celebration impressions. Everyone else was stretching and warming up. There were several times when teams were transitioning from one drill to another and Martellus would be the last to arrive because he didn't hustle. His body language sends a bad message. But his natural receiving ability is easy to see. I think some focus from Bennett would probably fix is pre-snap alignment troubles.

Bobby Carpenter looks determined to make an impact. He made several plays during running drills and was very active all day. We'll get a better idea of his impact when preseason games get going since there is no tackling.

Terence Newman looks good. He got beat on a double move at one point, but he looks quick, confident, and prepared for the season. He worked with the receivers and caught passes from the QB's for one session of practice which I found interesting. Maybe they'll put him on the field as a deep threat this year from time to time?

Demarcus Ware looks great. He may have gained some muscle in his lower body but he was beating blockers off the edge all day long.

The defenders spent a lot of time on fumble recovery drills. That was good to see because an increase in takeaways would go a long way in helping the team win more games.

Matt McBriar is 100%. He booted several punts 70+ yards in the air.

Nick Folk is good to go. He kicked field goals and didn't seem to have any limitations.

Jon Kitna looked bad. He needs to pick up his level of play. He had numerous off target passes and forced the ball into coverage all day long.

Stephen McGee has talent. He was accurate and throws a good looking ball. It is hard to judge him until he gets some game action in preseason, but he looks like he has the skills to develop into a player.

Jason Williams got beaten badly a couple of times in coverage. He didn't looks as fast as I expected but he is obviously slow right now because he has to think before he reacts. His speed and quickness will probably be more evident when he gets more comfortable with his role in the defense.

Igor Olshansky is a beast. He looks like the big, strong guy that we were promised. I saw him beat a double team to get to the quarterback in the team session.

The three running backs all look good. Felix looks as fast as ever. All three running backs look ready to start the season right now.

Sam Hurd looked like the #3 receiver today. If I didn't know Miles Austin was expected to make an impact I wouldn't even have noticed him. Hurd made several tough catches. Austin did absolutely nothing to show me he is ready to break out this year.

Jesse Holley looked pretty darn good. I know he is in a fierce battle for the last receiver spot but he was impressive today. Holley, Stanback, and Ogletree all looked pretty even in their battle. Manuel Johnson looked very slow. Mike Jefferson was inconsistent throughout the day.

I wish I could say more about the offensive and defensive line but they mostly worked on the opposite side of the field from me.

Wade Phillips is running the defense and is pretty much completely removed from giving any input on the offensive side of the ball. Phillips ran the defensive drills on one end of the field while Garrett ran the offensive drills on the other side. It will be interesting to see how in-game big play decisions are made during the game when it comes to offense. It appears like Garrett has total control over everything on that side of the ball this year. During the team portion of practice Wade Phillips was very involved and animated while coaching the defense.

Joe DeCamillis was quieter than I expected. He does command the attention of the special teams players but I didn't see the screamer I thought I would see.

Keith Brooking didn't do anything to catch my eye.

David Beuhler is big, but he didn't do enough in practice for me to come to any conclusions on him. He does look big enough to contribute in other ways on special teams.


  1. Appreciate your info! -Atl_Cowboy!

  2. Cowboy lost in WVAugust 1, 2009 at 6:34 PM

    Your blog is the best source of info I can get on the 'Boys. I'm up here in Steeler/Redskin land, but grew up in Dallas. I've already got tickets to the Monday night game in Sept, and after reading your posts I can't wait another two months to get down there.

    Keep up the great work...these training camp notes are priceless.

  3. I live in Atlanta and have been following the Cowboys for 31 years now. I just want to "Thank You" for your excellent insight! You seem to tell it like it is and you are not worried like some staff writers are when it comes to saying not so positive things. It is like I am right there at camp and I appreciate it. Please keep up the awesome reporting. Jack G, Atlanta, GA

  4. Looks like you have 2 Atlanta Cowboy fans reading your blog. Us Cowboy fans are everywhere! Thus we are America's Team! -Atl_Cowboy!!!!

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