Poke Notes: Spring Football

So what did the Cowboys do over spring break? We talked to several players and the best we could come up with was linebacker Paul Duren's trip to Dallas and Six Flags. Most of the players went home, hung out and relaxed. Offensive guard Kellen Davis tried to tell us some wild fish tails, but we weren't buying.

"When I had the team meeting today I asked if anybody had an good spring break stories and a few of them started to raise their hands and I said I didn't want to know," said Gundy in a humorous tone. "I used to enjoy those but I don't want to know anymore."

Everybody returned and was ready for practice other than fullback Shawn Willis, who was involved in an auto accident over the break. Willis wasn't seriously injured, but was held out of practice on Monday. He is expected to return to action later this week.

Head coach Mike Gundy stayed at home over the spring break. He did take his family to Oklahoma City for the Cowboys' first-round game in the NCAA Basketball Tournament. The Gundy family watched the game at the Ford Center and then enjoyed Bricktown. The Gundy men did it with a fresh haircut. Mike and sons Gavin, Gunnar and Gage all got flat tops from the barber.

New offensive line coach Joe Wickline moved his family into their new house over the break, freeing Wickline from staying in the dorm. The rest of the coaching staff went home to spend time with their families. Associate head coach Joe DeForest took his family to Florida for spring break.

One of the new Cowboy assistants that loves to get involved in the action is offensive line coach Joe Wickline. Wickline likes to run toward the boundary and challenge his offensive linemen to reach him on their downfield blocks in the Cowboys outside running game and quick passing package. Wickline was out there on Monday, but one the sidelines so was Fox Sports Southwest with their camera shooting video for an OSU spring football preview.
Offensive guard Corey Curtis reached Wickline downfield and pushed him. Wickline's momentum took him out of bounds where he crashed into the tripod of the FSN camera. The cameraman was rolling and allowed us to see a replay from his angle. It was obvious Wickline knew he was going to crash land from the look on his face. Fortunately, Wickline, the photographer and the camera all were okay.

We know fans are always interested, so in the first practice coming off spring break here is the way the lineup looked with the first units on both sides of the ball.
WR: D'Juan Woods, Seth Newton, Luke Frazier
TE: Brandon Pettigrew
OT: Charlie Johnson (left), Corey Hilliard
OG: David Koenig (left), Corey Curtis
OC: David Washington
QB: Donovan Woods
RB: Greg Gold
DE: Jerry Don Bray, Maurice Cummings
DT: Xavier Lawson-Kennedy, Ryan McBean
LB: Pagitte McGee (strong), Paul Duren (middle), Lawrence Pinson (weak)
CB: Vernon Grant, Daniel McLemore
S: Jeremy Nethon (free), Thomas Wright (strong)

During the drills portion of practice the linebackers came down and visited the running backs for a blitz pick-up pass protection drill. Greg Gold was up and running backs coach Curtis Luper was trying to encourage him. Luper asked the next linebacker in line, what's your name, son? The linebacker responded, "Paul Duren." Luper yelled at Gold, "I want you to block Duren."

It was not an intentional slight, but the last thing a three-year starter at linebacker wants to hear at practice is a coach asking him his name. Even with a new staff and all, Duren figures he's earned the right to expect coaches to know who he is. It was a bad set up for Gold as Duren took him right back to the dummy and won the matchup.

The drill was well spirited with both sides winning a share of the collisions. Jamar Ransom went right through fullback Jared McCoy, Greg Gold won a battle with a walk-on linebacker, running back Julius Crosslin put another walk-on linebacker on the ground, and Lawrence Pinson destroyed a walk-on running back.

The practice started with work on extra points and field goals and then some work on punt blocks. The punt unit was not just letting the defense through, but safety-turned-linebacker Grant Jones showed a real knack for getting to the punter. He had a pair of blocks, one was a complete smother of the kick.

With the addition of fullback Shawn Willis, who was injured in an auto accident over spring break, there were nine players that did not participate in practice, but instead were involved in injury rehab during the workout. Willis simply stood and watched practice. Defensive end Nathan Peterson (knee surgery), defensive end Darnell Smith (shoulder surgery), defensive end Marque Fountain (shoulder surgery), defensive end William Bell (knee surgery), defensive end Tremayne Standberry (knee scope), wide receiver Chijuan Mack (knee surgery), running back Seymore Shaw (knee scope), and offensive linemen Blake Botek (knee injury) were all in the southwest corner of the field working rehab exercises.

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