Cowboys Scout Team: Reviewing Sam + Vaughan
THE BIG LEAD: Tony Romo walked up to him on the practice field, welcomed him, and said, "Let's get to work.'' Jason Witten did the same thing. Dez Bryant called out to him down a Valley Ranch hallway.
"I don't know if he heard me,'' Bryant said of Michael Sam, who on his first day with the Cowboys as part of their 10-man practice squad, could be excused for that.
Because there was a lot of Valley Ranch noise on Wednesday.
There was the story of the Cowboys calling a special 10:30 a.m. press conference so Jason Garrett could address the Sam signing. False.
There was the story of Jerry Jones already pushing the button at the print shop to manufacture No. 46 Michael Sam jerseys. False.
There is the story that Sam will be rapidly accelerated up the totem pole so quickly that he'll vault from this glorified tryout (because that's all a P-squad spot it) to a chance to sack Colin Kaepernick on Sunday. False.
On Wednesday, Sam served as a scout-teamer. A "tackling dummy,'' in a sense, the same way Tim Benford does when he runs routes and the same way Dustin Vaughan (who is actually on the 53) does when he gets his snaps at QB. (See below for more details.) As Garrett noted, his real job isn't to be a "prospect'' -- though he may certainly be that. Sam's real job is to aid the other 53 guys by providing them "looks,'' by being a human cone they run around ... by being a tackling dummy.
"I thought he did just fine,'' Tyron Smith tells CowboysHQ. "He's got quickness. He can get upfield. I got some good work against him.''
Added Jeremy Mincey: “He did a good job [in practice], man. He came out and played football. That’s all we’re focused on as a team, getting better. He’s going to push some guys to get better so kudos to him.”
With the help of Tyron and a few other players, we can tell you that Sam showed the ability to play both ends, and teamed up with fellow P-squad end Ken Boatright to work against the offensive line in providing an outside rush. But it's important to note that Sam starts behind Boatright in terms of being called up ... and of course is also behind George Selvie, Jeremy Mincey, Tyrone Crawford and Lavar Edwards ... and that's not counting Anthony Spencer (on the roster but hopefully ready a month from now) and DeMarcus Lawrence (the prized rookie who should recover from foot surgery by midseason).
“I’m trying to help the Cowboys any way I can, so I can earn a spot on this team and help our team win games – anything I can,'' Sam did that. "Special teams, left end, right end, wherever. If you want me to hold the ball, I’ll hold the ball – I’ll do it to perfection.”
That won't be necessary. Just listen to people like Dez. And give people like Tyron their "looks.'' That's plenty of contribution right now.''
Meanwhile, a few notches above Sam on the Cowboys totem pole ...
VAUGHAN AS KAEPERNICK: The NFL required teams to go from 75 players to 53 last weekend. Cut week is always filled with surprises, especially when it comes to the Cowboys. One such surprise was the fact that the team decided to keep three QB's on their 53-man roster, opting to hold onto rookie QB Dustin Vaughan . While that move may have shocked some of the fans, Vaughan himself wasn't as surprised.
"It was definitely a long couple of days," Vaughan told CowboysHQ. "It kind of reminded me of the anticipation of waiting for a call during the draft. Guys who are on the bubble are mainly thinking 'I hope I did enough to make it' and I felt like I did. I was confident in that. That allowed me to have a good attitude going through that whole process."
Vaughan showed some flashes during extensive playing time this preseason. It didn't matter what the situation was, Vaughan was calm and poised and showed very good accuracy. He also showed nice pocket awareness and elusiveness, extending plays with his feet and making smart decisions.
"The experience itself was incredible," Vaughan said of playing in his first NFL preseason. "Getting to go out there and play on the same field with guys you used to watch on TV and looked up to, it's pretty crazy."
Vaughan seemed right at home during his action on an NFL football field, but he says the whole experience was definitely different than what he was used to in college.
"I think the difference between college and NFL, and I noticed the difference very quickly, the speed of the game is just faster.," Vaughan said. "You have to adapt to it as a quarterback. Defenders are gonna break on guys faster, wide receivers won't be open for as long, you need to read coverages and go through progressions quicker. It all needs to happen faster."
While Vaughan felt good about his overall performance throughout the preseason, he acknowledges that there is still plenty of room to grow.
"I've definitely improved tremendously," Vaughan said. "It goes without saying, but there is still so much room to continue improving. I honestly believe that there isn't anyone in the NFL, I don't care how good you are, that doesn't have room for improvement. That's going to be my thought process throughout my career. I want to improve everyday."
One person that Vaughan credits for much of his improvement and growth is fellow QB Tony Romo, who was in Dustin's shoes once upon a time.
"I've learned a lot from Tony," Vaughan said. "He's really encouraging. He gets really into what's going on in every preseason game and was constantly helping me every time we came off from a drive. It's been great being able to shadow one of the great quarterbacks in the NFL. Him and I came from a similar situation. The thing I love is that he never used that situation as an excuse to not be the best at his position. He never used the fact that he went to a small school or that he was undrafted as an excuse."
As we all know, Tony was signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2003, got his first start in 2006 and the rest is history. At first, no one knew who Romo was then, and most didn't think he'd amount to much. However, Romo kept working hard and remained committed to whatever role he was given. That is the same attitude and approach that Dustin has adopted at the beginning of his young career.
"To be on the team is a great privilege, but now it's time to move on," Vaughan says. "This team's goal is to win Super Bowl, so my goal is to do whatever I can do to help the team do that. Whatever that may be - third-string QB, holding the clipboard, taking practice squad reps in practice. Whatever I can do to help the team win a Super Bowl is what I'm going to do. I'm going to prepare as if I was a starter so no matter what happens I'm going to feel like I'm ready to go. "
One day Vaughan may very well get a chance to start just as Romo did, but in the meantime he'll have to keep doing whatever the coaches ask of him. One of those things is to run the opponents offense's in practice to help the 1st team defense prepare for upcoming games. First up, Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers.
"I'm not saying I'm going to run a 4.4, or whatever Kaepernick runs, but I'm going to try and emulate him the best that I can,'' Vaughan said. "When the defense gets out on Sunday, I don't want there to be any surprises. I want them to feel like they've already seen everything that the 49ers try to do. That's something that coach Garrett is looking for."
While Dustin won't play on Sunday, he is still a part of the meetings that highlight the team's game plan and he seems to have a good grasp on what the Cowboys will try to do against the 49ers.
"It'll be a fight because their defense is pretty good," Vaughan said. "But our plan is to utilize the run game and the great offensive line that we have. That will hopefully open up the passing game. We have a lot of weapons we can use and we want to use every one of them against the 49ers.''
ONSIDE KICKS: Dallas had all but two of its 53-man roster on the practice field Wednesday, with only Spencer and Darrion Weems not available. ... Defensive end George Selvie (shoulder) and defensive tackle Terrell McClain (ankle) were likely limited. Selvie keeps saying he'll be ready but Tyrone Crawford may need to start Sunday ... Tight end Gavin Escobar, cornerback Morris Claiborne and quarterback Tony Romo seemed to practice in full. ... The idea that C.J. Spillman is going to spill 49ers secrets now that he's a Cowboy? Way overblown. It's mostly about terminology, and otherwise, there shouldn't be much more that Rich Bisacchia and staff can't see on film. Spillman is here to boost special teams -- and is also working as a second-team safety.
THE FINAL WORD: “Everyone has different politics, religion, views on things, and I think what you find in the locker room is no one cares. It’s about, 'Can you help this football team win?' We’re always bringing in people to help the football team. If he can help us, it’s a bonus and we’ll be lucky to have him. It’s just part of the whole process.” - Tony Romo on Michael Sam.
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