Scout’s Notebook: Byron In Coverage, Sean Lee Returns, CB Updates; More | Dallas Cowboys

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FRISCO, Texas – Here are my notes from Thursday evening’s practice from Ford Center, here at The Star.

 

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  • Words cannot describe what Sean Lee means to this defense. Even when he’s not involved in the tackle, he is helping a teammate get in position to make it. On Monday, Travis Frederick and Chaz Green pulled to the outside in order to get Ezekiel Elliott around the corner. Lee read the play so quickly that Green had trouble adjusting to him and was unable to secure him. His missed, causing Frederick to have to adjust on the move and pick up Lee. That left Orlando Scandrick unblocked and free to make the tackle for no gain. 

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  • Anthony Brown was back on the field during practice on Monday and had a nice pass break up against Terrance Williams during 7-on-7. Williams has not run many sloppy routes during these practices, but this slant wasn’t one of his best efforts. Williams really didn’t do anything to threaten Brown off the ball, which allowed him to hang in position until the last possible moment to drive on him. Dak Prescott stuck with his read and tried to fit the ball inside but Brown just cut in front of Williams to make the play. 

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  • Brice Butler continues to get my attention by making plays in practice. His length allowed him to make a beautiful one-handed catch over the top of Duke Thomas on a perfectly thrown ball by Kellen Moore. Butler has been getting separation against every corner that he faces – but not this time. Thomas was in great shape to defend the route if the ball wasn’t thrown where it was. Butler was able to track the ball, and, at the exact moment, extend his hand to pull the ball in and get both feet down before sliding out of bounds. 

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  • Sometimes to get to the second level as a blocker, you have to use defensive techniques to make it happen. Richard Ash was attempting to hold Joe Looney along the line of scrimmage in order to free Jaylon Smith to run to the play. Looney gave Ash a bit of his own medicine with a well-executed rip move to free himself in order to get to Smith. Looney was able to push Smith wide, which allowed Darren McFadden the opportunity to make a cut off the block for a good gain.

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  • I’m not sure if this was the way he planned it, but DeMarcus Lawrence had a spin move on Zack Martin that left him missing badly in space. Lawrence was working the twist game with Maliek Collins and both where putting pressure on Martin and La'el Collins. Martin was sliding over to take Lawrence when Ezekiel Elliott threw a shoulder into the him, spinning him around. The spin caused Martin to stumble off balance, which resulted in him whiffing on Lawrence. Dak Prescott, feeling the pressure, flushed out of the pocket and had no choice but to throw the ball away.

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  • It has been rare that a defensive back has lined up and covered Cole Beasley in these practices. Beasley has been too quick and shifty for anyone to stay with him until Byron Jones took a shot at him during the one-on-one period. To Jones’ credit, he has not backed down from any challenges. He has worked against all the top receivers and carried Jason Witten at various times. What was impressive about the play was how Jones was able to maintain position on Beasley the entire route. He never allowed Beasley to shake or move him, which is how Beasley typically gains the separation necessary to finish the play. Jones played him tight all the way and when the pass from Prescott neared, he took his off hand and swatted the ball away. If there was an award for the play of the day, that one would have received my vote hands down.

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  • We observed Cooper Rush taking some snaps during the blitz period while working with the second offense. In his work, Rush checked the ball down to Darren McFadden with no one open down the field. He delivered a catchable ball inside to Lance Lenoir on a curl route and then threw an outside screen to Brian Brown — although Anthony Brown beat Chaz Green to the spot for the tackle. It wasn’t much, but it was the first time he has received some work ahead of Kellen Moore while at practice. 

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  • Corey Washington was a player that the scouts worked out while we were in Oxnard, but they chose not to sign him until recently. Washington has a long, rangy build with deceptive speed down the field. He hasn’t had much work until Monday when he had a touchdown reception against newly-signed cornerback John Green and Robert Blanton. Washington was able to separate from Green, which put him on Blanton. The mistake that Blanton made was that when he turned to run, he hesitated initially on the route. That’s all that Washington needed to get behind Blanton and catch the ball over the top of him.

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  • I really like what I saw from James Hanna during practice. He’s moving around well, which is a great sign. But he also caught the ball well. During Compete Period he made a nifty, one-handed catch against Jeff Heath. Hanna did a really nice job of selling the route like he was going to break to the inside by leaning on Heath. Instead, he maintained his momentum and took the route outside where he found some separation. The pass from Dak Prescott was in the perfect spot, which allowed Hanna to reach up with one hand and make the catch. 

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  • I’m hearing it is likely that we see Jourdan Lewis return to practice during the latter part of the week. That will not help his chances to play against the Oakland Raiders this Saturday, but hopefully he can get some snaps against the Houston Texans the following Thursday to end the preseason.

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