The Dallas Cowboys held their annual Blue-White scrimmage before a 2014-best training camp crowd of 5,977 fans Sunday.
What has been an uneventful, and less than sizzling, first two weeks of practice got a boost from what was a highly competitive and highly spirited workout.
The day also featured the most reps of training camp for quarterback Tony Romo, who has been easing back into action after December back surgery.
“Yeah, it feels great to get out here and play,” Romo said. “It felt like a game. I think it’s great to see the kind of execution that we were able to do in a situation like this to just prove a little bit of what we’ve been doing.. It doesn’t feel that much different than the other day, but we’re just out here more time and with more plays, but we’ve been executing real well so it was good to see that again today.”
Outside of Romo, here are a few other notable performances from Sunday:
WR Dez Bryant
Bryant has had a great start to camp and has regularly dominated the Cowboys cornerbacks. It was no different Sunday when he burned Orlando Scandrick for two touchdown passes, including a long catch-and-run off a slant route.
“It was great,” Romo said. “The play is supposed to happen a little faster but we kind of went second window on it because of the way they played it defensively. It was a great job by him continuing to move through the hole then the DB took an angle for the first window and made it difficult and Dez, being strong and physical with his hands and body took off.”
CB Orlando Scandrick
Scandrick got burned for two touchdowns against the Bryant, but his fiesty demeanor may be the personality of this prickly Cowboys defense.
The Cowboys were without cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Mo Claiborne. Scandrick, the longest tenured veteran in the secondary, has become their leader. He has made a spot in the league, because he plays with a chip on his shoulder and refuses to back down. That was certainly the case Sunday, and Scandrick made a choice to follow Bryant all over the field. While he gave up two touchdowns, he also broke up a touchdown pass to Bryant in the end zone and leaped high for an acrobatic interception of Romo in simulated late-game situation to thwart a rally.
WR Devin Street
The fifth-round pick has been solid throughout training camp, but he really took it up a notch in the scrimmage, separating himself from the pack of backup receivers. He had a big catch and run for a touchdown, though coach Jason Garrett ruled the play down at the 5-yard line to create a goal-line situation.
“He made some good plays today,” Garrett said. “Devin’s a mature guy. That’s one of the things that’s easy to see when you watched him work out, when you saw him at the combine, when you saw his college tape. And really throughout the minicamps in the spring and throughout training camp, he’s shown that. He’s a really aware guy. He’s mature as a route runner. He’s quarterback-friendly. He’s kind of a tall, wiry guy. So he has to get stronger. He has to be more physical. You saw a little bit of that today, where he’s breaking through that barrier a little bit both in his releases and making contested catches down the field.”
DE Martez Wilson
With DeMarcus Lawrence out 8-12 weeks with a fractured foot, the Cowboys need someone to step up at end and give them a pass-rushing presence on the outside. This is a great opportunity for Wilson, and he took a huge step forward Sunday with a couple of outstanding plays, including scoop and score after a sack and forced fumble on quarterback Brandon Weeden.
“Martez made a big play in one of the series where he came around the edge and literally took the ball out of the quarterback’s hands,” Garrett said. “Typically we don’t like those guys hitting the quarterback, but it was pretty clean and he picked it up and ran it in. That was a big play. One of the things that he has that’s just so evident is he’s got great quickness and explosiveness off the ball. The biggest thing for him to do is learn how to play that position and all the nuances of playing with his hand on the ground as a defensive end and he’s working very hard at trying to understand what those are and getting better technically every day.”
LB DeVonte Holloman
Holloman was johnny on the spot for the Cowboys defense last year, because of a rash of injuries that forced him in the lineup at strongside linebacker and middle linebacker for the first time in his career. A sixth-round pick in 2013, Holloman impressed the Cowboys with his ability to cover and a knack for being around the ball. A former college safety who has been spun down to the linebacker role with the Cowboys, Holloman gave another glimpse of his coverage skills in the scrimmage when he ran deep down the field for a pass deflection on a Hail Mary from Weeden to receiver Tim Benford. The Cowboys have been looking for play-making answers at linebacker since the season-ending injury to Sean Lee. Holloman may start getting a longer look in the nickel defense at least if not as a starter just yet.
“He has versatility,” Garrett said. “To think about what he played in college, he was a spur, which is essentially kind of a strong safety type outside linebacker player. We brought him in and he played outside linebacker for us and ended up playing MIKE linebacker for us, so you think about the arch of his career, he’s come a long way. He’s been a good special teams player for us. He’s also just been a good guy who has been around the ball, around the ball making hits, around the ball, knocking balls down, making interceptions. That’s kind of been his trademark since he’s been here. Those are really good traits to have as a linebacker. That, with his versatility, be able to play some different spots, be a teams guy, he can be a valuable asset to us.”
OG Ron Leary
Leary missed the first week and half of camp with a hamstring injury, suffered in the non-sanctioned conditioning run. Mackenzy Bernadeau has been starting at left guard in his absence. Leary, who started all season at the position last year, took a few snaps with the first team on Sunday. He still has a long way to go but this was the first step in the process for Leary to make his way back into competition for the starting role.
“Just getting acclimated, trying to get his feet up underneath him,” Garrett said. “I think he’s had a couple of good snaps in the pass-rush drills. But you also see some rust he’s trying to knock off and gradually get him back in there competing for that spot. I think he has done some good things. He’s grown a lot from the experience he has had playing in this league, at this level. He’s a guy who cares a lot about getting better and he just needs to play some snaps in training camp and he’ll get better and better every day.”