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Cowboys' rookie camp observations

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys conclude their rookie mini-camp on Sunday, but there is no media access.

With four practices over the last two days, here are some observations:

  • The punt return job is open. Following the Saturday morning practice running backs B.J. Catalon and Cam McDaniel and wide receivers Lucky Whitehead, George Farmer and Nick Harwell fielded punts. Whitehead ended his college career with a 76-yard punt return for a score against Old Dominion.

  • Sometimes rookies need a jolt. Jason Garrett delivered one to fifth-round pick Ryan Russell during special teams drills complete with an expletive.

  • DE Randy Gregory showed up in the team drills in the afternoon workout getting to the quarterback. What was good to see was the variety of moves. He wasn't just a speed rusher on the outside shoulder of the tackle. He had a would-be sack after jabbing hard to the outside and coming back underneat OT Laurence Gibson.

  • DT Chris Whaley spent last year on the non-football injury list recovering from a knee injury at Texas, but was able to get back on the field this weekend and had some solid moments. On Friday he used his quickness on the interior to slide up the pocket to pressure (or sack) Jameill Showers.

  • Whaley heard it from defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli after a one-on-one pass rush drill after he was swallowed up by guard Nico Carlson. Whaley didn't keep his feet moving and could not budge Carlson.

  • First-round pick Byron Jones looks the part. He is a smooth athlete but he also had a moment in which he used his football smarts. Playing in coverage on the outside he had his eyes on the quarterback and was able to break on a ball thrown inside. Later he broke up a slant to Farmer as the result of a quick break on a Showers' throw.

  • To close the one-on-one drills on Saturday, Garrett had Jones go up against Farmer. The undrafted rookie was able to come up with a grab on a crossing route but Jones was in position and attempted to rip the ball away three times.

  • I can see why the Cowboys moved Efe Obada back to defensive end. There's just too much learning that needs to be done for him to have a chance to make the team at tight end. At defensive end, he can simply get to the guy with the ball. But a word of caution to those who believe the Cowboys have a hidden gem: raw doesn't even begin to describe him. Obada looked better at defensive end in Saturday's practice but still needing a lot of work. He spent time after practice working on his stance with assistant defensive line coach Ben Bloom.

  • A couple of quick veteran health updates: CB Morris Claiborne said his rehab from a torn patellar tendon is going well and is focused on being ready for the start of training camp. LB Sean Lee said he feels great in his comeback from a torn ACL and DE Jack Crawford's surgically-repaired thumb is back to 100 percent.

  • Undrafted rookie CB Jason Wilson had some solid work in one-on-one drills in the slot. He broke up two passes to Der'rikk Thompson and George Farmer and he likely drew an offensive pass interference on Whitehead. In team drills it looked like the officials got him for a defensive holding.