Re­ceivers im­press … with block­ing abil­ity

San Antonio Express-News (Sunday) - - Football - By Clarence Hill Jr. FORT WORTH STAR-TELE­GRAM

OXNARD, Calif. — Af­ter two weeks of ques­tions about his re­ceivers’ seem­ing in­abil­ity to make plays in train­ing camp, San­jal Lal should have been beam­ing about the re­sults from last Thurs­day’s 24-21 loss to the San Fran­cisco 49ers.

Most no­table was rookie third-round pick Michael Gallup beat­ing man cov­er­age for a 30-yard touch­down on a gor­oute on the open­ing drive.

But Lal, for­ever the teacher and tac­ti­cian in his first-year as the team’s re­ceivers coach, found some fault with Gallup’s touch­down catch. He was most ex­cited about what this group did away from the ball, namely two pan­cake blocks Gallup and Allen Hurns and a chop­block by Tavon Austin.

“I’m go­ing to that be­cause ev­ery­one wants to score 30 yard touch­downs on a go route,” Lal said when asked why he pointed out the blocks be­fore big touch­down catch. “Ev­ery­body wants to have the ball. This group is unique be­cause they have bought into the other as­pects. That is what I am most proud of. You are ex­pected to run good routes, catch the ball, all of that. Above and be­yond what this group is go­ing to be dif­fer­ent about is what they do away from the ball that is what is pleas­ing to me.

Be­sides the pan­cake block, Lal said Hurns had a seal block on a 12-yard scram­ble by quar­ter­back Dak Prescott that al­lowed him to get six ex­tra yards and a first down. He also high­lighted a strong and ag­gres­sive route by Ter­rance Wil­liams on the back side of Gallup’s touch­down catch that made it seem like the ball was go­ing to him.

Of course, beat­ing one-onone cov­er­age and win­ning down field is what ev­ery­one on the out­side is fo­cus­ing on most with this new and re­vamped re­ceiver corps fol­low­ing the de­par­ture of for­mer No. 1 re­ceiver Dez Bryant in the off­sea­son.

It’s im­por­tant be­cause of the ex­pected plan of op­pos­ing de- fenses to fo­cus on stop­ping run­ning back Ezekiel El­liott and the team’s po­tent ground game, forc­ing the un­proven re­ceiver corps to make plays out­side.

And af­ter one game pre­sea­son game, the Cow­boys seemed to do that well. There was Gallup’s catch. Gallup also had an­other op­por­tu­nity but the ball was un­der­thrown.

The Cow­boys had suc­cess with two im­por­tant cogs, Cole Beasley (groin) and Deonte Thomp­son (Achilles), sit­ting out with in­juries.

But Lal was not moved.

“I am not even go­ing to say we are go­ing to win down the field yet,” Lal said. “As a coach we are not where we need to be on a nine route yet. But we are get­ting there. We will get there. We are not there yet.”

Lal said he is try­ing to in­still a men­tal­ity in re­ceivers and recog­ni­tion that if you have press cov­er­age and no help from the safety you have to win that matchup.

That is cer­tainly what Gallup saw against the 49ers. He knew the ball was com­ing to him af­ter lining up.

“Coach tells us all the time you’ve got to be able to win [deep] routes,” Gallup said. “If they’re go­ing to load the box, you’ve got to have wide re­ceivers out there putting out pro­duc­tion. It was a one on one matchup. I was think­ing he was throw­ing to me”

Lal ac­knowl­edged “Michael ended up win­ning” the route and get­ting the touch­down.

But all was not per­fect and it was pointed out to him by Lal and coach Ja­son Gar­rett dur­ing film ses­sion.

“There is a lot he can do bet­ter,” Lal said. “He could have stacked him bet­ter. He could have saved more than 2 yards to the side­line. And Michael knows this. But what we re­ally liked is he came out the other end and Dak trusted him to come out. He put the ball out there for him.”

Said Gar­rett: “There is a lot to learn about how he re­leased off the line of scrim­mage and how he ran the early part of the route. I do think he did a good job of hang­ing in there on the play. Dak made a great throw, did a good job of con­trol­ling the safety and threw the ball with the right tra­jec­tory. Ob­vi­ously, right where you want to throw it and Michael did a good job of fin­ish­ing it. But I do think early in the route he needs to be bet­ter, the re­lease wasn’t as good as we wanted it to be and the early part of the route just re­ally wasn’t what we’re look­ing for.”

Tony Ave­lar / As­so­ci­ated Press

Cow­boys rookie wide re­ceiver Michael Gallup (13) cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing a touch­down against the 49ers Thurs­day. Gallup also threw a pan­cake block that im­pressed re­ceivers coach San­jal Lal.

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