OXNARD, Calif. -- After recording 16 rushing touchdowns in 2014, the Dallas Cowboys struggled getting the ball into the end zone on the ground in 2015, picking up just eight rushing scores.
Joseph Randle led the Cowboys in rushing touchdowns with four, and he played in only parts of six games.
As the Cowboys try to re-establish the run-game success in 2016, they had a good reminder of how creativity, if not brute strength, can help them get into the end zone.
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan had a terrific call that led to an Alfred Morris touchdown from the 3-yard line.
With three receivers spreading the field and Tony Romo in the shotgun, he called for a slip draw that allowed Morris to go in for an easy touchdown. Romo carried out the play fake perfectly, even doing a little fake throw to his left after handing the ball off.
After that drive linebacker Sean Lee called together the defense to calm some feelings and re-focus the group.
On to the observations:
In team and 7-on-7 drills, Romo has completed 61 of 101 passes so far in camp.
Linebacker Anthony Hitchens was knocked down in 11-on-11 drills but was able to return and take his normal snaps.
Romo’s prettiest throw of the day might have come during 7-on-7 play. He was able to make a low-to-high read, freezing cornerback Orlando Scandrick wide and giving tight end Gavin Escobar a chance to make a catch at the pylon. Safety J.J. Wilcox was late because he had to honor tight end Jason Witten coming on the crossing route.
The speed of receiver Terrance Williams is often overlooked even though he has averaged 16.4 yards per catch in his career. Williams took a bubble screen from Romo in for a touchdown. He had some help from tackle Tyron Smith and guard La'el Collins, but he was able to get to the edge and out-sprint the defense to the corner of the end zone.
On Tuesday, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and defensive-line coach Leon Lett got into a little spat during practice. On Wednesday, bookend defensive ends David Irving and DeMarcus Lawrence yelled at each other after the completion of the two-minute drill. So far there haven’t been any on-field fights between the offense and the defense. Perhaps that will change as the defense gets a little testy.
Defensive end Mike McAdoo forced a fumble on receiver Rodney Smith that cornerback Jeremiah McKinnon recovered. McAdoo showed some nice hustle in turning back after the throw to be in position to poke the ball free from Smith.
Rookie receiver Andy Jones has received a lot of worthy praise, but he will want a block back after he failed to cut off safety Barry Church on a Morris run coming off the goal line. The defense did a nice job with its situational work, with defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford and Lawrence coming up with stops either at or behind the line of scrimmage.