James Hanna catching on

OXNARD, Calif. -- As John Phillips recovers from a sprained right ankle, rookie sixth-round pick James Hanna is getting more looks and the Cowboys like what they see.

“He’s doing well,” tight ends coach John Garrett said. “Smart guy. We’re playing him a couple of different positions and he’s picking things up. Understands it. Can see it and do it. I’m pleased with how he’s picking the volume of the offense up. For a guy who hasn’t blocked a lot from the backfield, we’re using him from the backfield and doing a lot of the fullback-type jobs and he’s putting his face in there. He’s listening to technique and performing it right.”

Hanna came to the Cowboys with a reputation as a pass catcher, not a blocker. He had difficulties in the offseason with some drops, but Garrett said, “Not to worry about his hands.”

Hanna has seen the benefit of the extra work in Phillips’ absence.

“It’s speeding up my learning curve,” Hanna said. “I’m going against better guys in the earlier groups. I think the defense is a little more complex with the ones and some of the twos, so you’re seeing a lot of different stuff and it’s really helpful.”