My 10 thoughts from Monday’s Cowboys practice:
1. Michael Irvin made an appearance at training camp for the NFL Network and did a little bit of everything. He talked. He coached the young receivers. He played father figure to Dez Bryant. He did some interviews for his main job and he talked to the press for almost 20 minutes after practice. Yes, he can still talk.
2. Michael Irvin expressed concern about the running game following the departure of DeMarco Murray. He says the Cowboys still must prove they can run it with the same effectiveness and he is not yet sold on the team’s stable of backs. His concerns hit home when projected starter Joseph Randle was pulled from practice with a back strain. He joins Darren McFadden (hamstring) and Lance Dunbar (ankle) already on the sideline.
3. With Randle sidelined, it was undrafted rookie Gus Johnson who got reps with first team ahead of former Baylor star Lache Seastrunk. Johnson is a tough, physical runner who goes straight ahead. He had a nice touchdown run in team work. Seastrunk has more speed and can break off some long runs. He had couple on Monday. But he dances too much for the Cowboys liking and doesn't always follow the hole,
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4. One of the highlights or lowlights of practice was seeing fullback Tyler Clutts run in for a score against the first team defense to finish an easy drive in 11-on-11 drills. Now this was a first team offense that was without quarterback Tony Romo, who was on a rest day, receiver Dez Bryant, who is out with a hamstring, and the injured Randle. Coach Jason Garrett began a cursing tirade: "You blanking kidding me." Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli also had choice words for the unit as did linebacker Sean Lee.
5. The defense did a lot better the next time around, holding the offense to a field goal. The increased intensity level on defense resulted in a brief skirmish after Clutts was stopped on a run. Defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford pushed Clutts. Offensvie tackle Tyron Smith quickly jumped in, pushing with Crawford. Defensive end Greg Hardy and center Travis Frederick were among the host of offensive and defensive players getting in on the action.
6. Rookie cornerback Byron Jones had a rough day. He was beaten by receiver Terrance Williams three times in the 1-on-1 drill. Jones also drew a flag for interference on a deep route to Williams during team drills.
7. Defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford is having a solid camp and holding his own against Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin. Crawford beat Martin in a 1-on-1 pass rush drill and then came back and beat Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick. The Cowboys expect big things from Crawford this year and he is showing why against two talented offensive linemen.
8. The pass rush compete drill in front of the team was won by the offense. Tackle Darrion Weems handled rookie defensive end Randy Gregory. Rookie guard La'el Collins won against rookie defensive end Ryan Russell. Defensive tackle Davin Coleman got a win for the defense against guard Mackenzy Bernadeau. The good news is that Weems, who is competing for the swing tackle spot, is starting to look better and better. He has worked with the starters for much of the last week in place of the injured Doug Free and will start at right tackle in the preseason opener against the San Diego Chargers.
9. Emerging receiver Cole Beasley is getting more and more put on his plate. Not only is he in the mix to be the primary punt returner as well as third receiver but he is now getting looks as the primary kickoff returner.
10. Rookie center Shane McDermott and third quarterback Dustin Vaughan had snap problems Monday that could pose a problem on Thursday. Both stand to get a lot of playing time in the preseason opener against the Chargers.