Hot routes: Cowboys tight ends coach keeps practices fresh

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 30, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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5 Mike Pope drills

New Cowboys tight ends coach Mike Pope has some unique drills. Jason Garrett remembers Pope once taping a tight end’s hands together when the player couldn’t keep his hands up. Pope’s group hasn’t even gotten started seeing all of his drills.

The tight ends work hard, but they’re not complaining.

Here are five of Pope’s favorite drills:

1 “I like the drill that involves the three players, because it’s unique and the only way you can practice catching the ball diving for it without diving. I think that’s on the list.”

2 “I’ve got one that I did [Tuesday], where at the end of practice, I have somebody fire a ball at them. I collect all the ice water out of the Gatorade bins, and they take their shirts off, and just as the ball gets to them, I hit them in the lower part of their back with that ice water and see if they concentrate and catch that ball, because, I mean, it’s cold.”

3 “The other ones I like where they have their back turned where I give them colors or numbers or something like that, four or five of them. I call the number or color and then I rocket the ball and they’ve got to turn around. Sometimes everybody turns, and sometimes nobody turns. You give them each a color — blue, green, brown, red, white — and then you call gold and see who turns. So it’s a concentration thing a little bit. You do the same thing with numbers.”

4 “I like the things where they’re getting hit on both sides as they catch the ball. They go up between two pads and just as they get there, they’re being hit just as the ball touches them.”

5 “I like the ones going out of the back of the end zone, trying to follow the ball and get your feet down, because those are usually game-ending plays or game-affecting plays, so it makes them look back this way for the ball but not look down at the ground, but they know they’re approaching that back line of the end zone. I like that one because it has the final effect of it if it’s successful. It happens a lot, too.”

Golfer Dez

On the team’s day off Monday, Dez Bryant and several other players went to the driving range at River Ridge Golf Club. The Cowboys receiver borrowed golf clubs and hit a bucket of range balls.

 “It wasn’t a good day,” Bryant said Tuesday. “When I hit it deep, I’m happy. It brings a smile. When I don’t, I just want to quit; I just want to throw [the club].”

Bryant just picked up the sport a year ago and has played only five rounds.

Weeden’s reps

With Tony Romo missing his second of five practices, backup Brandon Weeden continues to get added reps. It prompted passing-game coordinator Scott Linehan to ask the former baseball player how his arm is holding up.

“I have a noodle arm, man,” Weeden said. “I can throw a football for days.”

Quote of the day

“When you get injured, you feel like you’re letting your teammates down; you’re letting people down; you’re letting the fans down. That’s probably the toughest part, because you want to be out there helping the team win, and you know when you’re injured, and you’re not out there the entire year, you’re not fulfilling the role that you’re meant to have.” — Linebacker Sean Lee on his season-ending knee injury

Injury report

DE DeMarcus Lawrence (ankle/foot): Was carted off the field Tuesday and underwent X-rays.

LE Rolando McClain (stomach virus): Left Tuesday’s practice and is day-to-day.

G Ronald Leary (strained hamstring): Placed on PUP list but is expected to return this week.

DT Terrell McClain (ankle): Carted off field Sunday and is day-to-day.

S Matt Johnson (hamstring): Out at least a week.

DE Anthony Spencer (microfracture surgery on knee): Placed on PUP list and will be monitored daily.

DT Amobi Okoye (personal health issue): Placed on non-football injury list.

LB Will Smith (groin): Day-to-day.

T Darius Morris (hamstring): Day-to-day.

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