With a three-hour practice each day, along with an hour walk-through, there is plenty of time and exposure at Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, Calif., for players to stand out or struggle.
In a matter of minutes, a player can seem ready to turn the corner, but then drop off into the “struggling” category before you know it.
But let’s focus on a few players who have been able to stack a few good practices together and have made a leap here in the last few days.
Here are three players … on the rise:
TE James Hanna -- With the ankle injury to backup John Phillips, Hanna has started to come on strong in the last few days, both as a receiver and blocker. Known more of an athletic player who made some downfield plays in Oklahoma’s pass-happy system, Hanna has started to show more of a complete tight end. The sixth-round pick from OU handled DeMarcus Ware impressively in a couple of blocking drills and in the 2-minute offense, Hanna had three straight catches down the field, including one for a touchdown against the first-team defense. Look for him to play plenty of snaps in the preseason games with the Cowboys looking to rest Jason Witten, Phillips banged up and not only a lot of depth at tight end on the roster.
DE Tyrone Crawford -- With the injuries to both Jason Hatcher (hamstring), Marcus Spears (concussion) and even Jay Ratliff (foot), it’s opened the door on several levels for Crawford, who keeps standing out with his constant pass-rush. The Cowboys picked Crawford in the third round for his high-motor and ability to get after the quarterback and that’s starting to become rather apparent here in the practices. Crawford will likely get the start against Oakland and if he can continue to rush the passer, it will give the Cowboys more of a playmaker at the defensive end position that has been coveted for years.
C/G Harland Gunn -- The undrafted rookie from Miami, Fla., Gunn is showing some versatility to play two positions in the interior offensive line. Known more as a guard, Gunn has done a decent job with his center snaps. He’s getting more playing time with the rash of injuries that has occurred in the middle, particularly with Bill Nagy (ankle) and Kevin Kowalski (ankle), a pair of players the Cowboys were counting on to be versatile backups. However, Gunn now has that chance to fill that spot, assuming he can continue to take advantage of the extra snaps.
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