Yesterday the Dallas Cowboys held their annual Blue and White inner squad scrimmage. It was an opportunity for players to fight for a better position on the depth chart and for some even to earn a roster spot.
Although many fans were disappointed that wide receiver Dez Bryant did not participate in the scrimmage, it should be duly noted that he did not need to participate. He has been the most impressive player in training camp so far therefore the coaching staff thought it best to err on the side of caution.
All of that aside, there were many more positive notes taken during the scrimmage than negative ones. Although it is hard to get a good feel for a game in this scrimmage type setting, there were several players who had their chance to shine at certain points.
Defensive lineman Ben Bass had missed some time earlier in training camp with a sprained ankle, but yesterday he started the scrimmage at left end. Filling in for the injured Anthony Spencer, Bass showed exceptional competency at the left end position, a spot where he is expected to see the most playing time.
With all the injuries occurring along the defensive line it is reassuring to see Bass back so quickly from his injury and playing so well.
Another player that shined in this scrimmage was running back Lance Dunbar. After the Cowboys drafted Joseph Randle, many thought he would take over as the back-up running back but Dunbar has really played well in training camp and that trend continued yesterday.
On one play, Dunbar took a delayed handoff and followed a great block by Nate Livings and burst into the secondary for a nice run. Later during the red zone portion of the scrimmage, Dunbar took a screen pass for another nice gain. Hopefully the Cowboys will use more screen plays this season.
Unless Dunbar completely falls apart throughout the rest of training camp he should be the number two back behind Demarco Murray heading into the regular season. He seems to have matured a lot since last year when he was a wide eyed rookie.
At one portion of the scrimmage, the skill players went to a seven on seven competition and the lineman went head-up in a pass rush situation. Tyron Smith had a very impressive block during this session.
Smith was going against Demarcus Ware who made his move inside. Smith stayed with him step for step not giving up any ground. This was impressive because Ware, one of the best pass rushers in the league, has been dominating the match up during week one of training camp.
Look for large improvement in Smith’s play this year. Going up against Ware in practice week after week will surely force him to step his game up. Expect a big year from the Cowboys left tackle.
Tony Romo was nothing less than what should be expected. He seemed in complete control of the offense, especially in the red zone. He threw a strike across the middle to a wide open Jason Witten for one touchdown. Offensive coordinator Bill Callahan will look to go to Witten more in the red zone this season.
Rookie Terrance Williams seems to be getting more comfortable in the offense but the Hall of Fame game will be a good chance to get a better look at what the young wide receiver can do.
Another player that it was good to see playing well was middle linebacker Sean Lee. On one stretch play, Lee got down the line of scrimmage in a hurry to stop Demarco Murray. Those are the type of plays the Cowboys expect Lee to make.
Overall the scrimmage gave the Cowboys and their fans alike reasons to be optimistic about the upcoming season. The Hall of Fame game this coming Sunday will be another good chance to get a look at how this team will develop.