How awesome was to finally have some Dallas Cowboys football back in our lives!? The Week 1 preseason matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers might not have turned out the way we would've liked, but it was truly great to see Da' Boys back in action on the field.
As expected, everything wasn't sunshine and rainbows though. As much as we would've liked to see the Dallas Cowboys hit the ground running by completely dominating the 49ers throughout the game Saturday night, that just wasn't the case. Some players were able to stand out from others and some failed live up to expectations. That's what I want to talk about today.
Below are the studs and duds from the Dallas Cowboys preseason matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.
Dallas Cowboys Studs Against 49ers
It was a small sample size, but the Dallas Cowboys first-team offense looked pretty impressive against the San Francisco 49ers Saturday night. They were easily able to drive the field thanks to in large part the strong connection between Dak Prescott and Michael Gallup. That alone is encouraging, but even rookie RB Tony Pollard didn't look out of place in the few carries he received behind the majority of the Cowboys starting OL. The only thing that could've made it even more impressive is if they would've been able to complete the drive with a TD.
#16 Cedrick Wilson, WR
If not for leaving the game early after being on the receiving end of an illegal hit, Wide Receiver Cedrick Wilson might've been the MVP for the Dallas Cowboys in the preseason Week 1 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. After spending his rookie season on injured reserve, it was good to see Wilson back on the field and picking up where he left off. His ability to play on the outside or in the slot could make him a valuable asset in the passing game. If he can remain consistent throughout the remainder of the preseason he should not only make the final 53-man roster, but be a contributor in 2019.
#57 Luke Gifford, LB
Like Cedrick Wilson, Linebacker Luke Gifford unfortunately had to leave the game early due to an injury. It's truly sad because he was putting together quite a performance and even recorded the first turnover for the Dallas Cowboys defense, an interception, in the first half after picking off QB Nick Mullens. Luckily his injury looks to be nothing more than an ankle sprain. He may miss a little time while recovering, but the way he's performed in practices and now in a game situation might have already secured him a backup role and roster spot with the Cowboys in 2019.
Dallas Cowboys Duds Against 49ers
#2 Brett Maher, K
If you're just a look at the stat sheet you would see that Kicker Brett Maher was successful on three out of four of his field goal attempts Saturday night against the San Francisco 49ers. But, if you happened to watch the game you probably would've noticed two out of those three makes narrowly squeaked inside the uprights and his miss from 35 yards out, almost the same distance of an extra point attempt, wasn't even close. After being shaky in practices and once again in an actual game situation, the growing concern about the Cowboys kicking situation gains more traction. It might be time to look for outside help.
#3 Mike White, QB
It might be a little unfair to label QB Mike White as a dud, but not if you compare him to the way Cooper Rush played earlier in the game. From the get-go White was under duress due to poor blocking of the offensive line, so that could have a little to do with his performance. It kind of took him a while to look comfortable and get into any kind of rhythm. He did start to redeem himself towards the end of the game, but he's clearly playing second fiddle to Rush right now in the backup QB competition. I'd like to see White get the first chance behind Prescott in the next preseason game in order to get as fair of an evaluation of the two backup QBs as possible to see if that makes any difference.
#81 Jon'Vea Johnson, WR
Rookie WR Jon'Vea Johnson was one of the more hyped up young wide receivers prior to the Week 1 preseason game against the 49ers, but that's probably no longer the case. Unfortunately for Johnson, he developed a case of the drops when the lights came on Saturday night in San Francisco. He still has plenty of time to redeem himself, but as an undrafted free agent his chances of making the active roster were slim to begin with. He's really going to have to step up his game from here on out if he wants to make the cut.
Who were your studs and duds from the Cowboys Week 1 preseason game?
Taco Charlton Isn’t Going Anywhere After Strong Preseason Week 3
Dallas Cowboys Defensive End Taco Charlton might be turning things around. The former first round draft pick didn't have a great couple of seasons to start his career off, which forced him to be in a battle to earn a spot on the Cowboys 53-man roster this offseason. Three weeks into the preseason, it looks like he's a lock to make the team. In a "Dress Rehearsal" game that went great for the Cowboys, Charlton's performance was among the best players.
A couple of weeks ago, I discussed how the Cowboys' younger defensive ends could force the team to move on from Taco. From Dorance Armstrong to Jalen Jelks, there's a handful of promising players that were participating in a positional battle that one way or another, included Taco Charlton.
However, the Michigan product showed up to play versus the Los Angeles Rams with two passes batted down. Despite making such plays, we still hadn't seen much from him in the pass rush department.
That changed against the Houston Texans last Saturday when he managed to get two sacks (one strip-sack), two forced fumbles and a recovery. This was undoubtedly Taco's best game in his career. He still has a lot to prove, but it was definitely good to see him have a "breakout" preseason game.
With such performance, it doesn't seem like he'll be going anywhere in 2019. Charlton won't be a starter for this team, but he could become a very important rotational piece for Rod Marinelli's defense. He has a great opportunity to find playing time during the first two weeks of the season before Robert Quinn returns from suspension.
One unfortunate note was that in his best game yet, Taco went out injured twice (ankle). The first time he went back to the field to get some more but had to walk off the field for a second time. Hopefully, he's able to play next Thursday but I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't after having a breakout game versus the Texans.
Taco Charlton still has a very long way to justify being a first-round pick, but his play against Houston was a start. It will be very interesting to see how he plays in the 2019 regular season. He'll have to fight for playing time and he'll have to make every snap count to turn his career around.
HOU 0, DAL 34: Defense Dominates in Dress Rehearsal Game
The Dallas Cowboys couldn't have scripted a better result in tonight's dress rehearsal game against the Houston Texans. All three phases of the game made big plays as they dominated 34 to 0.
The night belonged to the defense as they terrorized Houston's starters and reserves along the offensive line with 8 sacks. Taco Charlton, a former first-round pick turned outcast was the star of the night with 2 sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. In my opinion, if there were any doubts about him making the roster he put them to bed tonight.
Kerry Hyder showed once again why he's one of the smartest free-agent signings of 2019. After being a lost man in the 3-4 defensive scheme with his former team the Lions, he's done a really good job applying pressure even though he hadn't recorded any sacks in the first two preseason games. However, tonight he recorded 2 sacks and reminded everyone of the player who had 8 sacks in 2016.
The young guys weren't to be left out in this defensive clinic. Dorance Armstrong, Trysten Hill, Daniel Wise, and Joe Jackson all had half sacks. Rookie Safety Donovan Wilson had one of the plays of the night with a beautiful interception as he tapped both feet before heading out of bounds. Cornerback C.J. Goodwin, who will probably make the roster on his special teams ability, got in on the interception party himself high pointing a contested pass.
Dak Prescott was only 2 for 5 (11 for 14 in the preseason) but managed to escape what looked like a sure sack and roll to his left and threw a rope to Michael Gallup for a touchdown. The two have shown a lot of growth and chemistry during training camp, something that was missing at times in 2018.
Wide Receiver Devin Smith had 6 receptions for 79 yards while Cedrick Wilson snagged 3 passes on 4 targets. Both receivers are fighting for the final roster spots in the receiver group which they'll have to continue to do next week against the Buccaneers.
Tight End Marcus Lucas had a very solid game with 4 catches for 50 yards. He will definitely be a player to watch in the final preseason game before final cuts are made. Cooper Rush went 15 for 25 and further solidified his position as the primary backup to Prescott. Mike White was also solid going 6 for 9 and tossing a touchdown.
Special teams got in on the action themselves when Linebacker Joe Thomas recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown.
Now the Cowboys have only one more preseason game before the 2019 season begins. All that's left now is figuring out the last few roster spots and staying as healthy as possible. September 8th is right around the corner.
Cowboys Wishlist: Dress Rehearsal Edition
In the NFL, the third preseason week is often referred to as the "Dress Rehearsal." It's usually the week in which starters get the most playing time. That has changed lately, with plenty of teams deciding to take care of their key players instead of risking them on the field. However, the Dallas Cowboys have played their starters on their first two games and there's no reason to believe that will change versus the Texans today.
Here is my wishlist for the Cowboys vs Texans "Dress Rehearsal!" Let me know what your wishes for tonight's game are in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL!
Wish #1: Justin Phillips Locks Up a Roster Spot
Phillips has been one of the most surprising players this offseason and preseason. The Cowboys are set at linebacker, but Phillips has made sure to be a tough guy to cut. Last week, he had a remarkable interception against the Rams. Despite making a first step toward the line, he managed to adjust and made the play. He has followed it up with more plays in practice.
If he keeps it up, the Cowboys won't be able to cut him. He has the potential to be a force on special teams and a quality backup.
Wish #2: Devin Smith Makes Things Interesting
The battle for the final wide receiver spots is at full-go. Devin Smith has shined lately, and has risen as a serious candidate to make the roster. However, it seems like other wide receivers have the upper-hand as of now. Earlier this week, I made my Cowboys WR Power Rankings and had Devin Smith at #7.
His TD catch versus the Rams last week was pretty impressive, and I wish he makes a few more plays to make the debate all the more interesting.
Wish #3: Tony Pollard Does It Again
Fifth-round rookie Tony Pollard
stole was the show last weekend as he racked up 51 total yards (five carries, one catch) and a touchdown on Dallas' first offensive drive. He looked impressive as the starting running back, giving us just what we wanted to see.
While many have advertised him as a gadget player, Pollard proved he can actually be a "standard" RB. He ran between the tackles, showed power, balance and great vision. I'm ready to watch it again, this time versus the Texans.
Wish #4: Taco Charlton Shines Rushing The Passer
Taco Charlton has made a couple of plays in preseason on his third year with the Dallas Cowboys. Against the Rams, he batted down two passes and looked good separating from opposing offensive linemen. Charlton has gotten praise from some analysts during these first two preseason weeks.
But I want to watch some quality pass rush from his part. Right now, the Cowboys' roster counts with some promising players, including rookies Jalen Jelks and Joe Jackson. While they're currently below Taco, he must prove he belongs on the roster.
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