I attended my first training camp of the season this afternoon. Obviously it is extremely early in camp to draw too many conclusions but a few things caught my eye. Here is a brief summary.
- Dez Bryant is the real deal. He is big and fast. He made two spectacular catches during practice that no one else on the team could have made. One was on a slant route when the quarterback lead him too far and he reached out with one hand and snatched the ball out of the air. The truly amazing part was that he made it look routine. The other "wow" play was on a flea flicker during 7-on-7 drills. Kitna was the quarterback and the play was a flea flicker. Kitna got the ball out way late and Dez was on a fly route down the sideline. As Kitna scrambled around Dez work back towards the quarterback about 40 yards down field. Kitna's throw was high. Dez jumped with a defender blanketing him and made the catch while managing to just get his feet down in bounds.
- Tony Romo looked very good. There isn't really a question about his ability anymore. But the scary part is the drop off from Romo to Kitna. Romo makes his reads noticeably quicker and is much more accurate than Kitna. As usual, the season will be a disaster if Romo is injured.
- Miles Austin did not look good. On consecutive plays at one point he dropped a crossing route that might have been a touchdown and then fumbled the next pass he caught. Orlando Scandrick blanketed Miles and stripped the ball from Miles a few steps after he made the catch. I was at camp last year and Miles looked horrible so maybe is just isn't a good practice player. Time will tell.
- Martellus Bennett might be in trouble. John Phillips must have gained 15-20 pounds in the offseason. It was nice to see the team line up in two tight end packages without anyone having to tell the second tight end where to line up or what his assignment was after they broke the huddle. Phillips just might take over the #2 tight end spot if Marty B. is out of action for much longer. Phillips made several nice receptions and did a good job blocking.
- Alan Ball looked a little bigger but he is still small. I noticed during a footwork drill that his feet move like the cornerbacks. With the rest of the safeties you could notice a difference in foot speed but not with Ball. Barry Church from LSU caught my eye a few times with some nice plays and his size was ideal for a safety.
- It is hard to really learn much about the offensive lineman in practice but Doug Free looked pretty good. He seems thicker in the legs this year so maybe he added some mass in the offseason. He seemed comfortable at tackle but we won't know much until he plays in a game.
- Roy Williams looked good all practice long. He caught everything thrown his way.
- In most of the 3 receiver sets with the first team it was Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Roy Williams on the field. Patrick Crayton appears to be #4 on the depth chart already.
- David Beuhler has learned to dial down the power on his field goals. He was softly popping the short field goals down the middle. I didn't see him kick anything longer than about 35-yarders but his accuracy was good.
- Sean Lee looked good but it was hard to judge too much. The best look I had at him was during the team scrimmage part of practice. He looked comfortable and seemed to know his assignments on each play. He darted into the backfield on a run wide to the right side and would have tackled the running back for a loss.
- Bryan McCann from SMU caught my eye several times on pass coverage. Maybe he'll steal a roster spot away from one of the other cornerbacks on the roster.
- Orlando Scandrick didn't show any ill effects from his broken finger. He was great in coverage and didn't have any trouble catching the ball in any of the drills. He came up with an interception on a tipped pass during the team scrimmage drills.
- Gerald Sensabaugh displayed great hands during drills now that he has two thumbs to work with again. I wonder how many interceptions he'll have this year since he won't have a cast on one hand.
- Kevin Ogletree needs to find a new practice look. The players were in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts. Ogletree was wearing capri pants similar to Rafael Nadal. This isn't tennis, Kevin. Put on some shorts.
I'm hoping to make it to training camp at least one more time. Maybe next time I'll be able to get a better look at some of the offensive and defensive linemen if they are in full pads. Overall I was impressed. Dez Bryant exceeded all of my expectations.