IRVING, Tex. - Almost 40 players were on the field Friday for the final day of the Cowboys’ mini-camp for rookies, one-year veterans, players who missed any portion of the team’s offseason program and quarterbacks. The Cowboys will head to Oxnard, Calif., this weekend for training camp.
• The players on the Physically Unable to Perform list remained out of drills, although guard Mackenzy Bernadeau (hip) and wide receiver Danny Coale put in extensive work with a member of the team training staff, including some light running — going forward, backward and to each side — and some running drills while attached to the trainer by a long elastic cord to increase resistance.
• Target practice? The quarterbacks and receivers/tight ends engaged in a skeleton (no defense) passing drill in which a receiver took a few steps at the snap of the ball and then turned and cut across the field. But the quarterbacks weren’t dropping soft passes over the line of scrimmage; instead, they were firing fastballs at the receivers from very short range, no more than 10 yards. If the passes’ accuracy was off even a little bit, the receivers had very little chance to match receptions, and several saw passes ricochet off their hands. Receivers Donovan Kemp and Cole Beasley and tight end James Hanna showed the most consistency making receptions.
• Track star-turned-cornerback Teddy Williams again showed his improved hands, making several nice catches in drills, including one when he out-leaped two other players and twisted his body around in mid-air to snatch a pass that was thrown a little behind him.
• How ready is the team to get to California? Normally, the team can’t even go out and stretch without the team’s video staff chronicling every move from three different locations: a permanent tower built over one end of the field, a mobile power lift and a small building with a covered platform on the side of the other field. Thursday morning, there wasn’t a team video camera in sight.
• New offensive line coach Bill Callahan put his guys through several drills to work on recognition of what the defense is doing and lateral quickness. He had four offensive linemen line up with the other two standing in as mock defensive linemen (there were only six in the workouts). One of the “defenders” would stay put at the snap of the ball, while the other would shoot through, and an offensive lineman was charged with coming across behind his offensive teammates to pick up the would-be pass-rusher and keep him away from the mock quarterback. The quickest recognition and lateral movement belonged to rookie guard Ronald Leary, an undrafted free agent from Memphis.
• The team has two punters on the roster: Chris Jones, who filled in last year when Mat McBriar injured a nerve in his leg, and Delbert Alvarado, a kicker/punter hybrid who has been in camp in each of the last two seasons. Alvarado has attended this week’s mini-camp, but one team staffer (not a coach or scout) said he wasn’t surprised McBriar signed this week with the Philadelphia Eagles because the Cowboys “have so much invested in Jones and really like him.” Does that mean Jones will make the team? Not yet, but it’s likely he has an edge heading in to training camp.
• Best pass of the day: Stephen McGee, who is battling Rudy Carpenter for the third quarterback spot behind Tony Romo and Kyle Orton, has been inconsistent at times in his young career, but wowed some of those in attendance when he added a little heat to his fastball and threw a strike to wide receiver Tim Benford in tight triple coverage.
• Running back Ed WesleyLance Dunbar, but they have very different running styles. Dunbar, who is listed at 5-8 and 191 pounds, is quicker and more elusive, and often spins his way through traffic. Wesley, who is about the same height and has a few more pounds on his frame than Dunbar, is more of a direct runner who puts his head down and tries to slash through would-be tacklers.
• The best offensive player in the mini-camp, at least among the skill-position guys, has been receiver Cole Beasley, and the argument could be made that it hasn’t been close. A day after beating cornerback Teddy Williams deep on a long pass down the right sideline, he did it again Friday, this time beating cornerback Morris Claiborne deep down the left sideline and laying out to make a ridiculous catch just inches above the grass. Claiborne had good position and coverage, but Beasley’s catch was unbelievable.