• One of the most repeated instructions this weekend during team (11-on-11) drills, especially on running plays, has been "stay up!" With the players not wearing any protective padding, the coaches understandably don't want the players falling on each other and risking injury. But in addition, this weekend has been the first time many of the players have practiced at an NFL pace or in Texas heat — and the first time for all of them to do both — and falling to the ground can be an indication of fatigue and insufficient conditioning. Coaches want players to fight through their fatigue, since practices at OTAs and full-team mini-camps are going to be a lot faster … and more than likely, hotter.
• One defensive player who has made a lot of plays over the first two days of practice has been cornerback Isaac Madison (5-10, 173) of Arkansas. He jams receivers at the line of scrimmage with the strength of a bulkier player, and he has been around the ball a lot over the first two days. He made several impressive plays Saturday afternoon, including one on which he chased wide receiver David Little (6-2, 183) across the middle of the field on a crossing route. When Little had to hesitate for a second to adjust to a pass thrown slightly behind him, Madison launched himself in front of Little and tipped the pass away.
• Running back Darrell Scott of South Florida is a pretty sturdy (6-0, 226) back, but he has a spinning style that allows him to pinball his way through traffic on running drills. Once through, he has a decent burst, but his ability to wiggle through congestion is impressive. With no pads, he didn't have a chance to show whether he also can lower his shoulder and power his way through tacklers.
• The quarterbacks continued their erratic passing, which sometimes made it difficult to evaluate receivers beyond their ability to run good routes. The defensive backs, however, were the beneficiaries of errant passes that headed their way, such as whenquarterback Larry Smithsailed a pass over his receiver and directly into the waiting arms of safety Matt Johnson, who had so much time to room and time to catch the ball he could have called a fair catch.
• Ronald Leary (6-3, 324) of Memphis, who spent the first two days of practice working at the right guard spot with the "first-team offense" (if there is such a thing in a rookie mini-camp, came up limping toward the end of the afternoon session during the "team" (11-on-11) drills. He appeared to be favoring his right leg, but stayed on the field and finished the last dozen or so plays.
• It came as no surprise that running back Bryce Beall (5-10, 228) looks so comfortable catching passes out of the backfield. After all, Beall played his college ball at the University of Houston, where quarterback Case Keenum broke numerous NCAA records in the Cougars' pass-happy offense. But a quick look at the statistics shows that Beall was not used that often as a major target in the UH offense. In fact, he caught fewer passes each season after starting his career with 34 receptions as a freshman in 2008. In the following years, his receptions total fell to 32 in his sophomore year, then 12 as a junior and just nine last year. Nevertheless, it looks like Beall must have caught a lot of passes in practice, because he showed very soft hands and the ability to pull in tipped passes.
• Being the boss definitely has its benefits. While the players and coaches — and a few members of the media — endured temperatures that reached the mid-90s Saturday afternoon, owner Jerry Jones found the right way to watch practice. First, he drove his car right to the side of the field. Then, after walking out to the field for a few minutes, he went upstairs into the enclosed (and presumably air-conditioned) suite below a camera deck on the side of the field. At the end of practice, he came back down and had to walk all of about 10 feet to his waiting car.
• Please note that the media has no access to Sunday's mini-camp activities, so there will be no "Observations" columns tomorrow. But there are more stories on the way this week!
Minicamp Insider III
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