The Broncos and Cowboys closed out their joint practices Thursday afternoon with some 11-on-11 team drills between the offenses and defenses, and a little special teams in between. After a morning that featured a bit of a scuffle, the afternoon session was filled with nothing but good, clean football — and the occasional offensive fireworks — as Broncos President and CEO Pat Bowlen and Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones stood and watched practice side-by-side.
ATTENDANCE REPORT: The Broncos who were out of pads for the morning session also were for the afternoon session…In addition, the usual pack of veterans did not participate in the practice, including Dre’ Bly, Dewayne Robertson, Brandon Stokley and Darrell Jackson.
POSTURING FOR POSITION: Michael Pittman — who celebrated his birthday today — was the running back in the lineup on most situational third-downs.
MATCHUPS: For the final session of their joint practice, the Cowboys and Broncos went into 11-on-11 team matchups right after their individual team drills. Here are the details.
Broncos Offense vs. Cowboys Defense: Brandon Marshall continued his messages intended for Cowboys cornerback Adam Jones. Marshall’s tape affixed to the bottom of his shoulder pads read: “Game Over.” Marshall lined up again Jones a couple of times during 11-on-11 drills but neither had big plays in their matchups. The Broncos offense however, had its share of top plays throughout the team session.
- Selvin Young started the drill off with an 8-yard run. Later, Jay Cutler had an impressive gain through the air to Clifford Russell for a first down.
- Cowboys’ linebacker Greg Ellis showed why he was selected to the Pro Bowl last season, intercepting a Patrick Ramsey pass thrown over the middle. Ramsey and the Broncos offense responded with a touchdown strike down the sideline to Marshall. Cutler returned and delivered to quick completions to Nate Jackson and Marshall in traffic. Eddie Royal made a grab against the tight coverage of Jones.
- The tight ends got involved often during the drills. Daniel Graham hauled in two hard-to-catch balls from Cutler amongst tight coverage, and Tony Scheffler had a catch deep in the Cowboys secondary that would have been a touchdown pass if the play was live.
- Royal continued to impress with a catch in the middle for approximately a 20-yard gain and was able to hold onto the ball after a hard hit from Orlando Scandrick.
- The Broncos offense closed out the session with a couple two-minute drills. Cutler led the team down the field on the first drive, completing several long passes to Royal, Marshall, and Keary Colbert. The offense was in the redzone with 35 seconds left on the game clock. Andre Hall had a 7-yard gain on a pass to Cutler to set up 2nd-and-3, then Cutler completed a play-action touchdown pass to Royal.
- Ramsey took over for the second two-minute drill. The Dallas defense stepped up, forcing an incompletion after a short Denver gain on first down to set up third down. The Broncos converted on third with a pass to Pittman. The Cowboys defense failed to capitalize on its opportunities, dropping an interception on first down and watching a tipped pass fall to the ground on second. A short Pittman gain set up 4th-and-8, and the Broncos offense converted on a rather liberal spot by the referees on a Ramsey pass to Samie Parker. The team failed to seize the opportunity after the spot, however, having three of the final four plays fell incomplete.
Although the offense was unable to close out practice on a high note, it did look impressive against a formidable Dallas defense
Broncos Defense vs. Cowboys Offense: In the first session of 11-on-11s, the defense didn’t get much penetration, but the offense didn’t get anything going, either. There were at least five incompletions in a row on the Cowboys side of the ball. There could have been more — once runs started getting thrown in the mix it was hard to keep count. But as soon as the special teams drill was over and the teams reconvened for another session of team drills, the defense took over.
- After several reports surfaced online that the Broncos defensive line was getting pushed around by the “huge” Dallas offensive line, the front four came out to play Thursday afternoon.
Elvis Dumervil had a sack on Tony Romo in the first session of 11-on-11 drills. In the second session, Alvin McKinley broke through the middle of the line and had a sack on Brad Johnson, then Nic Clemons got another would-be sack on the very next play. Two plays later, Paul Carrington joined the party and had a would-be sack running in from the blind side. On one play, linebacker Jamie Winborn got into the action, busting through the line and knocking over a Dallas lineman in the process. “The giant has fallen!” he proclaimed.
- In 11-on-11 drills, the play still goes on even after the defense has a “sack.” On one particular play, John Engelberger and Kenny Peterson both beat their man to the quarterback, but stopped and let Romo launch a ball down field toward receiver Miles Austin. A chasing Karl Paymah knocked the ball away, drawing cheers from the defense.
- Terrell Owens didn’t have any significant catches in the afternoon session. In fact, he might not have had any at all — I’m just covering my bases in case I forgot a short inconsequential reception. On several plays he was overthrown by Romo, on another the ball was too high, and on one play Domonique Foxworth swatted the ball away from T.O. on a deep route at the last second. Owens felt he deserved a call, so he stood with his hands on his hips before slowly walking back to the huddle. Winborn shouted back at him to “Quit cryin’.”
- The Dallas offense did have a few nice plays, including a run up the middle by rookie Felix Jones that looked like it could be for a big gain after some solid blocking. On the very next play Romo executed a successful screen pass to the left that also would have gained some serious yardage if the play was live.
- Wesley Woodyard wasn’t fooled by a reverse, and when the running back flipped the ball to Isaiah Stanback running the other way, Woodyard was ready for a big stop in the backfield.
- Tyrone Poole had another near-interception this afternoon after Carrington broke through the line and Romo forced a long pass that bounced off of the cornerback’s hands.
- At the end of practice, all of the players ran off the field except for 11 Cowboys and 11 Broncos. The Dallas starters — including Romo, Owens and Marion Barber — lined up against a group that featured Elvis Dumervil, Kenny Peterson, Josh Mallard and Jarvis Moss on the defensive line, D.J. Williams and Jamie Winborn at linebacker and Domonique Foxworth, Karl Paymah, Jack Williams, Marlon McCree and Marquand Manuel in the secondary.
The Cowboys began to drive down the field in their hurry-up offense. It was quick pass after quick pass, and the Broncos often brought up Dallas third downs, but Romo continued to convert them — or at least that’s how the refs called it. On a third down inside the 10, Dumervil turned the corner and came in for what looked like a clear sack on Romo, but the refs allowed the play to continue and the Dallas QB completed a pass for a first down near the goalline.
“We had about three sacks on that drive,” Dumervil said afterward. “They didn’t call them.”
Eventually the Cowboys got the ball to the one-yard line and Tony Romo yelled, “Clock it!” to signify he was going to spike the ball. Then he faked it and ran a quarterback sneak in for a touchdown. McCree shouted out, “You’re gonna sneak when we don’t have pads on?” Romo emerged from the pile and gave an emphatic spike in the endzone, laughed and patted McCree on the helmet.
Special Teams: For the second consecutive day, Eddie Royal, Glenn Martinez and Marquay McDaniel fielded punts from the Cowboys. Marlon McCree, Domonique Foxworth and Jack Williams showed their skills on special teams, consistently bullying the Cowboy pursuit team out of bounds on coverage.
QUOTABLE: “This is our house. Nobody’s going to come in here and beat us around, and that’s the mentality we have. I think it was a great camp, guys stepped to the plate. A good team came in — give them credit — but it’s going to be an interesting game Saturday night. I’m looking forward to seeing those guys.”
-Elvis Dumervil, on how the two days of practice against the Cowboys went.
Pictures to come…
- Gray Caldwell and Jake Grilley, DenverBroncos.com
Tags: Alvin McKinley, Brandon Marshall, Domonique Foxworth, Eddie Royal, Elvis Dumervil, Gray Caldwell, Jake Grilley, Jamie Winborn, Jay Cutler, John Engelberger, Keary Colbert, Kenny Peterson, Michael Pittman, Patrick Ramsey, Selvin Young, Tony Scheffler, Training Camp, Tyrone Poole