Good and bad: Dallas K David Buehler is expected to make the team as the kickoff specialist (and also contribute on other special teams), but he and incumbent Nick Folk both have been working on onside kicks the last two days. Most kickers try one of two versions of the onside kick: either they hit the ball hard near the top, so it almost rolls off the tee and then bounces high when the point of the ball hits the ground, ideally coming down about 10 yards from the line of scrimmage, or they nudge it straight forward off the tee so it rolls the required 10 yards before falling on it, almost like a bunt in baseball. Both kickers are far more effective with the first version; Buehler, in particular, seems to have mastered the art, getting his high bounce to fall almost exactly on the 10-yard marker. The dribbler/bunt style is sporadic, at best, for both kickers, sometimes not reaching the required 10 yards.
Seeing red: A lot of Monday morning's practice was dedicated to working on the red zone offense (within 20 yards of the goal line). The offense worked extensively on slant routes and crossing routes at the back of the end zone. Several players made multiple touchdown grabs, including WRs Roy Williams, who went up high in the back of the end zone to snag a pass that seemed headed for the fans, and Sam Hurd (who continued his strong camp) and Jesse Holley, each of whom used his size and leaping ability to catch passes on fade routes deep in the corner of the end zone.
Trading places: The Cowboys waived OT Michael Turkovich, who was out with a strained knee, and signed OT Andre Douglas (6-5, 312) of Temple.
Got him covered: One of the knocks on former first-round pick LB Bobby Carpenter has been his pass coverage, but he looks notably better this summer. In 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, he drew the assignment of covering Pro Bowl TE Jason Witten, and Carpenter did exceedingly well. On the four plays I saw them matched up on each other — all intermediate routes — Carpenter blanked Witten, staying with him step-for-step each time. Carpenter twice fought Witten to a draw in the air (with the ball falling incomplete), dove once to tip the ball away before it reached Witten, and once reached around Witten to punch the ball free from Witten's hands. Carpenter also is taking on a bigger role this summer by making the calls for the second-team defense.
Tip drill: Witten had one of the nicest receptions of the day when he went across the middle on a crossing route while being chased by CB Alan Ball. The ball was thrown slightly behind Witten, who reached back with his left hand and tipped the ball straight up in the air and then calmly snatched it with one hand. Ball never had a chance.
Sneak attack: Ball made up for it a few minutes later. QB Tony Romo locked in on WR Patrick Crayton on a crossing route from the right side, and as he threw the ball, Ball snuck in from the opposite side and made an easy interception at the goal line.
Scary moment: On one passing play, Witten ran a deep post route while being chased by LB Bradie James and SS Gerald Sensabaugh. The pass was slightly out of Witten's reach, but he chased it … and crashed into the wall in front of the fans in the north end zone. It wasn't one of those celebratory jumps into the crowd, like the Green Bay receivers do at Lambeau Field after the Packers score a touchdown — the wall came up about to Witten's waist, and he bent over the wall into the crowd while running nearly at top speed. James and Sensabaugh headed over to check on Witten, who quickly emerged from the crowd, uninjured.
Strip show: Another of the nicest defensive plays of the day was turned in by new ILB Keith Brooking, who chased down TE Martellus Bennett from behind, reached around him from behind to strip the ball after Bennett had made the catch and knock it free, and just for good measure, kicked the bouncing ball almost into the seats (nice kick, but there's no need for Folk and Buehler to sweat their roster spots). Very nice play by a soon-to-be 34-year-old who wasn't re-signed by Atlanta in part because of the perception that he had "lost a step."
Hit of the day: Probably the best hit of training camp thus far was turned in Monday morning by CB Orlando Scandrick. WR Roy Williams was coming across the field on a crossing route, and Scandrick ditched his man and headed toward Williams from the opposite side of the field. Just as the ball arrived, Scandrick blasted Williams, knocking him to the ground and sending his helmet flying (Williams' head was still attached). While teammates and fans watched to see if Williams would get up (he did), Ball calmly snagged his second interception of the drill.
Tough crowd: Maybe it was the after-effect of the hit by Scandrick, but shortly after he returned to drills, Williams ran a simple post route from the left side. Romo hit him perfectly in his hands, only to see Williams drop the ball, and earn a smattering of boos from the crowd.
Monday morning camp insider
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