Perhaps there are times when some things should be taken down a gear. In an early-morning drill, UFA TE Tony Curtis broke out of his stance and charged upfield … flattening new Dallas TEs coach Paul Pasqualoni. The hustle was admirable, but Pasqualoni might have been more impressed had Curtis flattened a linebacker, instead.
• Rookies are judged on more than just their height, weight and 40-yard dash times (see all the converted track stars who get signed in the hopes that their blistering speed will translate to a slew of long
touchdowns, but flame out because of a lack of actual football
ability). RB Marion Barber III drew praise from assistant head coach
Sean Payton Sunday morning, not for his speed or strength, but for his
progress from Saturday -- having showed ample evidence that he'd
learned the plays Payton taught the day before -- and for his sense of
timing that allow him to wait for his blocks before crashing into the
• Since the weekend mini-camp was held without pads, drills were not
run at full speed, and contact was minimal. The standard scraps between
players also were nearly non-existent. One player who did show a fiery
side was UFA ILB Mike Goolsby (Notre Dame). During a skeleton drill,
Goolsby took exception to what he viewed as holding by UFA OL Harvey Dahl (Nevada). Goolsby turned back to Dahl after the play, swatting
away the blocker's arm. On each of the next two plays, Goolsby got
irate, apparently convinced that Dahl was putting a little too much
into his blocking. Each time, Goolsby had words for the lineman, and he
continued to go after Dahl (who appeared largely uninterested in what
Goolsby had to say). At that point, LBs coach Gary Gibbs had seen
enough, not-so-subtly reminding Goolsby to quit going after Dahl, and
to return his focus to the drill and his responsibilities within the
drill. Seemed to work -- Goolsby and Dahl had no more post-play tangles
for the rest of the day.
• Head coach Bill Parcells is the master of downplaying the performance
of rookies, usually remaining stingy with his praise, even when player
has a breakout rookie season, as RB Julius Jones did last year.
Brand-new rookies -- whether draftees or free agents -- often get
dismissed as unprepared kids who just aren't ready to contribute (even
when he knows that's not the case). But when UFA RB Tyson Thompson (San Jose State) bounced outside of the designed running lane (which was
clogged up by fallen players), and then hurdled over two fallen linemen
to get to the outside, Parcells issued a rare public compliment,
howling "someone's starting to look like a running back!" When it comes
to rookies, that is a big Parcells compliment.
• Seeking greater returns? For the first two days of the mini-camp,
three players -- RB Marion Barber, RB Tyson Thompson and WR Jamaica Rector (Northwest Missouri State) -- ran kick return drills. In
Sunday's session, two more players tried their luck as return men: WR
Reggie Harrell (TCU) and WR Tom Crowder (Arkansas).
• One of the more interesting matchups of the day was between DE Marcus Spears (LSU) and UFA OT Sam Wilder (Colorado). Even when they were
lined up on opposite ends of the line of scrimmage, the two seemed to
find each other. One one play, the 6-foot-4, 307-pound Spears chased
the ball carrier laterally across the field, where he ran face-first
into the 6-5, 305-pound Wilder in a jarring collision that undoubtedly
would have been far more comfortable for the players if they'd been
wearing full pads.
• Coaches all say they want players with speed (which, it's repeatedly
pointed out, can not be taught). Top draft choice DeMarcus Ware, whose
absurd speed for his OLB/DE speed prompted the Cowboys to take him with
the 11th selection in the draft, lined up against massive OT Rob Petitti. At the snap of the ball, Ware burst off the line, charging to
the outside before employing a spin move … and coming face to face with
Petitti. Ware is lightyears ahead of Petitti on the speed scale, but
Petitti continues to show streng footwork and technique (in addition to
his size, which -- as coaches also like to remind -- also can not be
• Matt Tarullo likely will be moved from center to guard when the full
team reports for camp, but at center, he more than held his own,
dominating an an assortment of interior defensive linemen, including
Spears, DT Jay Ratliff (Auburn) and DT Thomas Johnson (Middle Tennessee
• Some things happen to undrafted free agents that never would happen
to top draft picks. For instance: UFA OL Harvey Dahl felt the love when
he found the nameplate above his locker had his name spelled "DAUL."
Even though the players were wearing jerseys without names across the
back (and helmets without stars), UFA LB Roger Cooper (Montana State)
was prepared with proof, in case someone forgot the spelling of his
name: he has "COOPER" tattooed across his shoulders. Now all he needs
is his number (50) tattooed on his chest and back, and he could play
the NFL's first version of "shirts and skins."
Day III: Rookie Mini-camp Insider
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