Practice Report 16 - Special Teams & Conditioning

The Cowboys were back on the field bright and early Wednesday morning for the first of two workouts. The squad was fairly enthusiastic considering that this is their 10th day in a row of practicing. The morning workout in Boone Pickens Stadium was conducted in shells (shorts, shoulder pads and helmets) but they will be in full pads for the afternoon practice begining at 4 p.m.

Part of the emphasis in the morning practice was on special teams. It is obvious that Jason Ricks has garnered an edge on the placement kicking job. Luke Roberts has had to deal with a case of the flu, but Ricks is kicking strong as he nailed his extra point, 32-yard and 44-yard field goal attempts – all right down the middle with plenty of distance to spare. Roberts hit his extra point and 32-yard tries, but was wide right on his 44-yard attempt.

One of my favorite drills is a special teams drill designed to find both blockers and cover players on the punt and kickoff teams. Joe DeForest conducted that drill today, which consists of a defender coming down facing one blocker, then another, before finally getting a chance to make an open field stop on the kick returner. Grant Jones was good at both as he was excellent blocking and tying up players and just as strong at getting off blocks. Calvin Roberts showed he could come off blocks and make the open field tackle. As would be expected, strong safety Vernon Grant is another superlative cover man. Some of the best blockers included safety Jamie Thompson, freshman tight end Justin Waller and Julius Crosslin. Grant Jones and Jamie Thompson are on the first team kick return squad.

There was plenty of individual work stressing ball security, smooth exchanges and offensive line execution. On the defensive side, the team worked on getting off blocks and coverage execution in the secondary.

The primary team period was heavy toward the running game with Greg Jones getting the most work with the first team offense. But Vernand Morency, Mike Hamilton and Calvin Roberts also got some reps.

The exchange period was primarily corrections off the tape of the scrimmage from Tuesday afternoon.

Again, the squad will go through its second workout of the day this afternoon in full pads at 4 p.m. Thursday's lone workout will start at 3:30 p.m. and will feature a slightly longer scrimmage period. All workouts are closed to the general public.

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