My chilling thoughts from Sunday’s Cowboys practice:
1. Safety Jeff Heath and fullback Tyler Clutts had been getting into it for much of the day and then it all boiled over in team drills. Clutts didn’t like how Heath was handling him and the two went at it after a play. Both units got involved. Running back Lance Dunbar got slammed down. Center Shane McDermott got trampled. Guard Zack Martin leveled linebacker Kyle Wilber. Then it was over. Back to practice.
2. The St. Louis Rams coaching staff came to practice Sunday and were greeted with boos from the fans in the stands. But this is a Rams staff that is pretty chummy with the Cowboys. Owner Jerry Jones and Rams coach Jeff Fisher spent years together on the NFL Competition committee. Jones has great respect for Fisher, who has been mentioned several times in the past as a possible Cowboys coach.
3. Jerry Jones has ceded some control of the team over to executive vice president Stephen Jones, but he still draws a crowd when it comes to the media. Jones talked to a throng of cameras for the second straight day, giving his thoughts on the team. His best quote was an answer to a question about whether Greg Hardy can bring that nasty demeanor to the Cowboys’ defense as Charles Haley did in the 1990s: “He is not the SOB Charles is. I can say that ’cause I know Charles. He is in the Hall of Fame and I love him. [Hardy] is a committed winner that has got something to show and that loves football. He likes nuances of the game. He likes being around his team. He likes the drills in practice. It shows. So as far as the whole package he has the perspective that Charles has.”
4. Tony Romo overthrew Lance Dunbar deep down the right sideline in 7-on-7 drills. Dunbar was open behind Church. The Cowboys didn’t make the connection, but it was an example of how they plan to use Dunbar out of the backfield and get him on mismatches.
5. Cowboys rookie tackle Laurence Gibson has not had a great camp. But he had his “HA” moment Sunday. He drove defensive end Lavar Edwards back more than 5 yards in a 1-on-1 compete drill in front of teammates.
6. Tight end Gavin Escobar had a strong day in practice. He caught everything in 1-on-1 and 7-on-7. The Cowboys used him near the goal line and threw it up high. They tried to do the same in team drills and got flagged for offensive pass interference.
8. Receiver Devin Street is making great progress in his second year with the Cowboys. It was on full display in practice Sunday. He made several nice catches including a touchdown from quarterback Tony Romo.
9. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli went ballistic on rookie defensive end Ryan Russell for “soft” play. He called his play “horse manure.” Of course, he used a different word.
10. Randy Gregory is getting stronger and stronger and better and better. He will likely never have the ideal weight to play defensive end. But he has the speed and strength. He displayed a nice bull rush against tackle R.J. Dill. Owner Jerry Jones said Gregory has been everything they hoped for. “The thing is he is taking the coaching good,” Jones said. “He is retaining the technical aspects of what he is doing. We all know he can be better there. He has natural gifts. Because I know the coaching he is exposed to and how he is working I know he is going to improve, but I wouldn’t want to ask for too much than we are seeing from him as we see it. He is everything I could have hoped for right now.”
Clarence E. Hill Jr., 817-390-7760