ARTICLE: Cowboys offense shows promise in scrimmage
OXNARD, Calif. - Even without Terrell Owens, the Dallas Cowboys’ offense was able to hold its own against the defense in an intrasquad scrimmage Saturday.
The offense scored on seven of nine 10-play series and got close enough to try a field goal on another. It was a respectable showing considering coach Bill Parcells has said for days that the offense was lagging behind the defense.
“As tough as it’s been on us the last three or four days in practice, today we were able to move the ball a little bit and make a few more plays than we have this week,” said third-stringer quarterback Drew Henson, who was 12-of-15 for 129 yards according to a play-by-play released by the team.
Owens was out for a third straight day because of a sore hamstring. An MRI showed no serious damage and he considers his status “day to day.”
There were some problems for the offense. For instance, the only drive that didn’t come anywhere close to points was the first one, led by starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe against the first-team defense. There were three sacks in that drive, including two in a row to end it.
Backup quarterback Tony Romo put up points on all three of his chances, with a 40-yard field goal by Mike Vanderjagt and two touchdowns. Henson saw Shaun Suisham miss a 50-yarder at the end of his first drive, then drove for touchdowns on his other two possessions.
Romo threw a TD pass to tight end Tony Curtis and Henson hit rookie receiver Skyler Green in the back of the end zone. Marion Barber III and Lousaka Polite ran for touchdowns. Tyson Thompson broke through the defense on another play, and starting running back Julius Jones made several strong runs.
Bledsoe’s last two series produced field goals of 46 yards by Suisham and 24 yards by Vanderjagt.
“It was good to get out there and move the ball,” Romo said. “We’re showing progress here and taking it into next week.”
The defense finished with nine sacks, including plenty of pressure from rookie Bobby Carpenter and Greg Ellis, who is one week into his new role at linebacker.
enjoyed it,” Carpenter said. “I’m playing with a lot of talent out there, so that makes it a lot easier.”
Ellis said he got a lot of playing time so coaches can figure out how he’s doing in his transition from defensive end.
“I definitely feel better than I did (when camp started),” said Ellis, who also swatted a Bledsoe pass. “I still have a long way to go to get to where I feel like, ’OK, I’m good with it.”’
Second-year players DeMarcus Ware and Chris Canty also were extremely active. Terence Newman and Keith Davis had the hardest hits, although defenders were told not to try dropping players to the ground.
Undrafted rookie receiver Sam Hurd put to good use all the recent post-practice work he’s done with Owens, making several nice catches including an over-the-shoulder grab. He caught five passes for 74 yards but was disappointed about his last play — an incompletion in which he was called for pass interference and his defender was called for illegal contact.
I could’ve done a lot better,” Hurd said. “Every ball I want to catch. I don’t want any to drop anywhere near by me.”
Parcells was angry with his team on Friday.
“Things are not going well,” he said. “I’m worried about that, and a little frustrated, with things in a couple of places where we should be better than what they are. But it’s the first week of the season so I have to keep that in perspective as well.”
Parcells has said for several days that the defense is far ahead of the offense, starting with the line. When the blocking falters, it’s more difficult for the running backs to find holes and for quarterbacks to complete passes.
The line had a new look in practice Friday afternoon, with Rob Petitti taking over at left tackle, bumping Flozell Adams to the second team. Marc Colombo replaced Petitti on the right side.
“That’s generally where you are at this point in camp. The defense is always ahead of the offense,” quarterback Drew Bledsoe said. “Obviously we’ve got to take steps forward, but it’s not something that I’m pressing the panic button on now.”
A few days ago, Parcells thought some of his position coaches were spending too much time explaining things while they were on the field. He prefers they do that in meetings and use practices to see whether they can do it. So he added more 11-on-11 drills, when coaches can’t be a security blanket.
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