Back in action: After missing time in OTAs, the full-team mini-camp in June, as well as the first five-and-a-half days of training camp with a calf strain, rookie linebacker Stephen Hodge was back on the field with his new team Monday afternoon. He immediately went to work with the first-team kickoff coverage team, took part in all drills with the linebackers and worked with the third-team linebackers unit in 11-on-11 drills.
Double-barreled weapon: The Cowboys have spent a good amount of time the last two days working on onside kickoffs. One new look had both kickers — David Buehler and Nick Folk on the field at the same time, in which case the opposing team wouldn't know which one was going to kick (one would run up and suddenly stop, while the other then approached and made the kick, so the opposing team can't really guess who is going to kick). In Monday's drills, Folk kicked in the two-kicker formation, presumably because Buehler — a former linebacker and safety — is more physical and a willing hitter.
Standout receiver: What is it with WRs who have to be different these days? Case in point: Roy Williams. He alternates between wearing jerseys bearing his NFL number, 11, and his college number, 4. While his teammates don blue shorts when they're not in full pads, he wears white … although he often has ditched the shorts at some point in practice, running the rest of practice in the compression shorts (sort of like bicycle shorts) players wear underneath. And when the team stretches at the beginning of practice, he usually does a completely different routine of stretches than the one strength and conditioning coach Joe Juraszek prescribes for every other player on the team.
As for his on-field performance, Williams has shined on routes that allow him to take advantage of his 6-3 height and leaping ability, including sideline routes and fades in the back of the end zone, but he also has been disturbingly inconsistent on many other routes.
Runaway train: Backup NT Junior Siavii is remarkably quick for a guy his size (6-5, 320). No, he doesn't have the absurd quickness starter Jay Ratliff has, but he clearly is not one of the slow, lumbering oafs many teams stick in the middle of their defensive lines. In one drill, in which the defensive linemen raced through a line of foam dummies, Siavii was one of the quicker players, getting through the drill just as quickly as DEs Marcus Spears and Stephen Bowen. He also got through it in impressive fashion; while the rest of the linemen slapped the dummies aside in a circular motion, Siavii turned and delivered more of a punch-style blow, with his hand extending straight forward from his shoulder, like a boxer delivering a series of crosses. At times, it actually looked like he might damage one of the dummies because of the violence and power in his blows.
In a higher stratosphere: TE Martellus Bennett has earned a reputation — quickly — as a quirky, eccentric character. True to form, he raised up his jersey during practice to reveal a plain white T-shirt on which he written, "Marty B … the Martian." While he seems to relish in his persona as a character from outer space, he also has the size (6-6, 265) to play above virtually any DBs or LBs who try to cover him. At the beginning of the team's 7-on-7 drills, QB Jon Kitna looked like an awkward shot putter as he tossed a short pass up on the air to Bennett, who shot up off the ground to grab the ball over rookie S Mike Hamlin. Giving away two inches and 41 pounds to Bennett, Hamlin had absolutely zero chance of breaking up the play.
Feeling safer: SS Gerald Sensabaugh continues to show solid coverage skills and instincts, breaking up passes intended for TEs and RBs all afternoon.
Big guys' day off: Head coach Wade Phillips has said that there will be times when some veteran players will be allowed to sit out one practice when the team has two workouts on the same day. Monday was one such day, as OTs Flozell Adams and Marc Colombo got the afternoon off.
Be patient: As was the case in Monday's morning practice, much of the afternoon session was spent working on red-zone offense. One of the more interesting plays, which went largely unnoticed, was turned in by third-string QB Stephen McGee. Young passers often try to force passes as they get anxious, especially when there are linemen flying around them, but on one play in the red zone, McGee took the snap and held on to the ball for about five seconds, with the pocket closing in around him, before firing a strike in the end zone to TE Scott Chandler, who had needed the extra seconds to shake ILB Bradiey James. For such a young QB, the patience was very impressive.
Too eager to impress? Coaches were irked when three OLs false started on the same play, but on the very next play, fourth-string QB Rudy Carpenter got three DLs to jump offside with a particularly hard cadence at the line of scrimmage.
Monday evening camp insider
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