IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys conclude their first week of organized team activities today at Valley Ranch. On Wednesday we had our first look at the team, so let’s offer up some observations from what we saw.
Remember, take these for what they are: Non-padded practices in late May.
Most of the eyes were trained on defensive end Greg Hardy. He is the Cowboys’ biggest free-agent signing and has high expectations that could be tempered some if the NFL upholds its 10-game suspension. I wish I could give you a large account of Hardy's day but I didn’t notice him much. He was not with the first-team base defense or in the nickel. Jeremy Mincey was the right defensive end in the base and rookie Randy Gregory was the pass rusher in the sub package. At his press conference, Jason Garrett said the goal of the offseason was to get the younger players a lot of work, so the Cowboys might be pacing Hardy until they get to training camp.
DeMarcus Lawrence lined up as the left defensive end with the starters and in the sub package. His power was shown when he shoved rookie right tackle La'el Collins to the ground with his right arm as he worked his way around the corner.
Tyler Patmon got the first work as the third cornerback in the nickel package when Orlando Scandrick moved to the slot. I thought Corey White might’ve gotten that look, but the Cowboys liked what Patmon did as a rookie and he looks like he has added some bulk to his frame this offseason.
If there was a running back of the day it would’ve gone to Ryan Williams. He showed the most burst as he worked the edges of the defense, although he slipped once as he attempted to cut back inside. Williams did not practice on Tuesday because of swelling in his knee but he didn’t show any signs of favoring his knee on Wednesday.
With Sean Lee only working individual drills, Rolando McClain working through rehab for knee surgery in Alabama and Anthony Hitchens rehabbing on the side with an ankle injury, the linebacker trio with the first team was rookie Damien Wilson, Jasper Brinkley and Kyle Wilber.
With tight end Gavin Escobar not doing much because of a hamstring strain, Jason Witten got a lot of work and was his typical Pro Bowl self. He had a seam catch in blitz drills and as able to shake free from J.J. Wilcox on a throw to the flat. James Hanna also had a nice grab down the seam where he was able to show his speed.
I wanted to see more of third quarterback Dustin Vaughan. In team and 7-on-7 drills he completed just 2-of-6 passes. He was high on two throws, missing Nick Harwell on a throw to the sideline and tight end Geoff Swaim on a short throw. One of his incompletions was a positive sign as he threw the ball into the ground after the defense snuffed out a screen.
Next week I will try to keep more of an eye on defensive end Ben Gardner. He was active. He missed his rookie season last year after undergoing shoulder surgery but showed some quickness and strength with his pass rush on Wednesday.