There was the emphasis on individual drills, lots of work for the defense on tackling and pursuit, multiple periods of seven-on-seven work, and even special teams worked on PAT/field goal and later in practice on punt and punt protection. The practice plan may have been the same but the intensity appeared to increase and it would appear the team is itching to pick it up a notch, which they will Friday when they put on the pads.
"A lot of enthusiasm and the players did a nice job getting drill to drill," Gundy said after practice. "I didn't see a lot of lack of efforts. But the defense is running four gassers for lack of effort, so obviously they grade it and see it differently than I do. Not perfect, but the attitude and the body language of our team is very good.
"I think we are all excited about putting pads on Friday and having what we call a thud practice, where you don't actually tackle guys to the ground but guys can run into each other a little bit," Gundy continued.
One area in particular where the intensity has picked up progressively since the start of practice is the seven-on-seven and one-on-one work between the wide receivers and the secondary. With new defensive coordinator Tim Beckman pushing the corners and safeties to improve and be more aggressive, the receivers have noticed and picked up their game as well.
"One-on-one drills, in my history, have always been very competitive and I don't think that was the case the last two years. But I think it is evident early that the intensity on the defensive side is going to bring out the best in the receivers," answered Gundy. "It always works out that way when you have good players like your Rashuan Woods and Darrent Williams battles. When you have players that really fight on both sides of the ball then you are going to have really good one-on-one periods."
"We have to (step it up"), said returning starting safety Andre Sexton. "We're the veterans of the defense now and we have to step it up because we can't settle for what we did last year and we have to keep moving on."
One aspect of the match up between the wide receivers and the defensive backs that has also signaled some added enthusiasm is the fact that a former wide receiver is now playing on the other side. Ricky Price has moved to free safety and is now covering the guys he used to line up with to run routes and catch passes.
"That is a lot of fun and they are trying to get better and make catches over me just like I am trying to get better," said Price. "It's good competition and good rivalry back there."
Price played defensive back in high school at Houston Cypress Falls in the same secondary with Sexton. Price is playing the boundary safety this spring and both players, who are good friends and roommates, are enjoying being on the same side of the ball together again.
"Back down in Houston we had the best secondary duo in Texas," said Sexton. "Now that he is playing over there with us I can't hit him, but I am cheering him on and hoping he does well with us. He's picking up things pretty fast and today he got an interception and I ran down and met him. We're just excited to be playing on the same side of the ball again and we're going to try and make plays."
Price said, "He's (Sexton) helping me out a lot telling me what I'm doing wrong and what I'm doing right. I was kind of proud of that interception because Coach Beckman was showing me to sit down on the route and I did and got the pick. That picks up my confidence."
The practices will pick up more on Friday as pads are added. The schedule is the same with a 3:15 p.m. start with stretching. All spring practices are open to the public. Next week the Cowboys will again go on Monday, Wednesday and Friday before taking a week off for spring break.
Cowboy Spring Football - Day Two
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