Observations from Thursday's OTA

IRVING, Tex. - Insider news and notes taken from the practice fields at Valley Ranch on Thursday, including notes on Tony Romo, Marco Rivera, Jacques Reeves, Quincy Butler and more!

• RG Marco Rivera, whose body has enough wear and tear on it -- specifically in his back -- to make many speculate that his career might be over, ran with the first team offensive line … for exactly one series, and that series included minimal contact. For the rest of the day, free agent signee Leonard Davis worked with the top unit. Second-year man Pat McQuistan filled in for Flozell Adams (who is recovering from a recent minor knee surgery) at LT. Kyle Kosier resumed his normal spot at LG, with Andre Gurode at C and Marc Colombo at RT. River spent the rest of the day without a helmet, talking to younger players and demonstrating technique. The second unit, for most of the day, consisted of rookie Doug Free at LT, free agent Trey Darilek at LG, Cory Proctor at C, Joe Berger at RG and Redskins castoff Jim Molinaro at RT.

• Attendance report: several marquee players who skipped the team's last OTA ("optional team activity") were in attendance Thursday, including WR Terrell Owens, SS Roy Williams, OLB DeMarcus Ware and RB Julius Jones. Notable absentees (or at least not visible anywhere on the field or in the locker room) Thursday included WR Terry Glenn, P Mat McBriar and RB Marion Barber. Flozell Adams also was nowhere to be seen, although there was speculation that he was absent simply because he is getting medical treatment. Rookies Courtney Brown (CB) and Matt Moore (QB) also weren't present because of academic obligations at their colleges (Cal-Poly and Oregon State, respectively).

• CB Jacques Reeves, who many believe could be fighting for his roster spot this year after the Cowboys drafted a pair of CBs in Courtney Brown and Alan Ball, didn't have a great day. In the early minutes of Thursday's practice, he was beaten down the left sideline by rookie free agent WR Jerard Babb, who made a beautiful catch on a perfect pass from backup QB Matt Baker. Moments later, Owens ran right past him on the other sideline, hauling in a deep pass without breaking stride and essentially walking into the end zone. In the waning moments of the practice, while the offense was running a two- minute drill, Reeves had a chance for a measure of redemption when he correctly read the play and jumped in front of rookie free agent WR Jamel Richardson (6-3, 220 out of Victor Valley) in the end zone. The pass hit Reeves right between the numbers on the front of his jersey … and then fell harmlessly to the ground.

• CB Quincy Butler handled most of the punt return chores in limited drills.

• While many lauded the mobility and playmaking ability the offense seemed to add when Tony Romo took over for Drew Bledsoe at QB last year, there were whispers about his arm strength. More than in any game last year, the elements seemed to bother Romo, who threw several fluttering passes that floated in the air and missed their targets. He made a lot of good throws, but the inconsistency, especially when throwing into the considerable wind, was a little surprising.

• SS Roy Williams drew some criticism last year for inadequate coverage in passing situations, and Thursday didn't look much different. One one play, he was shadowing WR Jerheme Urban when the ball was thrown. It went right through Williams' arms on the way to Urban … who subsequently dropped the pass. Later, when the offense was in its two-minute drill, TE Andy Thorn ran a short curl route in front of Williams. Williams broke late on the ball and dove. He got his hands on the ball, but Thorn made one of the best plays of the day, reaching out and snatching the ball before Williams could make the catch or knock it down.

• QB Brad Johnson continued to make his fashion statement -- or his public service announcement for cancer research -- as he repeated his status as the only player in the 90-degree heat with long sleeves and long pants. True to form, he showed exceptional arm strength and accuracy.

• OL Joe Berger looked like a guy fighting for his job. Not only did he seem to battle hard on every play, he also sprinted up to the line of scrimmage as if there was a prize waiting for the first player there. Whether he brought an apple for head coach Wade Phillips is unconfirmed.

• Catch of the day (and maybe a lifetime): QB Brad Johnson dropped back in the pocket and had his arm stripped while he was throwing. The ball floated up in the air, and settled in between two offensive linemen. While Johnson and the defense looked for the ball, OL Doug Free reached in and snagged it. His chugging toward the end zone provided ample evidence to support the idea that he was drafted because of his blocking ability, not his speed.

• Before anyone thinks QB Tony Romo has gotten too wrapped up in his new celebrity status and therefore doesn't work hard, consider this: on the last play of Thursday's practice, he threw a pass that was picked off by CB Quincy Butler, who raced down the sideline. Teammates Roy Williams, Jay Ratliff and Abram Elam cheered for Butler and escorted him down the sideline … and then actually blocked for him as Romo tried to chase Butler down.

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