One week down and the Dallas Cowboys head into week two with a perfect 1-0 record. That's something that is so sweet to type out after eight long months with no Dallas Cowboys football. But as Jason Garrett likes to say, "the past is the past, we are looking ahead to Denver." We all must move on and prepare for the 1-0 Denver Broncos.
Von Miller vs La'el Collins
La'el Collins' first start at right tackle in a Dallas Cowboys uniform couldn't have gone much better for the third-year mauler out of LSU. Collins had a tough matchup against one of the best 4-3 defensive ends in the NFL. In Sunday night's game against New York, La'el didn't allow a sack and was a force against the run as well.
La'El Collins making JPP pay for attempting to rush inside. #Cowboys https://t.co/CMuAQr09zm
This Sunday, Mr. Collins has an even tougher matchup. Standing across from La'el this Sunday will be one of the league's best 3-4 pass rushers, Von Miller.
In 2016, Miller finished his Pro Bowl season with 13.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. The Broncos' pass rusher will move around and rush from both sides, but will likely line up over Collins for a majority of his snaps.
La'el Collins versus Von Miller will certainly be a matchup I keep a close eye on Sunday.
DeMarcus Lawrence vs Menelik Watson
DeMarcus Lawrence had a fantastic start to the 2017 season after registering five total tackles--three of them for a loss--and two sacks in the home opener to the Giants. Lawrence has another good matchup Sunday against veteran Menelik Watson.
After watching the film from Denver's Monday night game, the one thing that stood out was how much Watson struggled against Chargers' pass rusher, Melvin Ingram.
The Broncos' starting right tackle struggled against speed, power, and played with very bad technique against Ingram. Lawrence played with great speed, power, and technique against Bobby Hart last week.
Lawrence is slated to have another big game this Sunday, adding to his already impressive start to the season.
Dez Bryant vs Aqib Talib
Dez Bryant wasn't perfect in week one against Janoris Jenkins, but he definitely made an impact in the game.
Dez finished the night with only two catches for 43 yards, but drew a long defensive pass interference penalty that set the offense up with great field position.
Bryant has another tough matchup this week against Aqib Talib.
Talib, a veteran in the league, is still one of the best outside corners in the NFL. One thing Aqib Talib does very well is get in the opposing wide receiver's head early in the game. Bryant must keep his composure and not try to be a hero.
I expect Dez Bryant to have a much bigger game in Denver, and with a lesser role.
Cowboys Corners vs Broncos Receivers
The Dallas secondary was absolutely fantastic against the New York Giants, but the matchup gets much tougher this weekend in Denver.
Nolan Carroll and Anthony Brown had very nice games manning their sides of the field in week one, but both corners have another tough matchup this week with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders across the line of scrimmage.
A key player in the Dallas secondary this week will be rookie Chidobe Awuzie.
Chido had a very strong first game and is looking to build off that in his second career NFL game. Awuzie will likely play both in base and nickel defenses and have cover duties on all of the Broncos' receivers.
The 2017 second round pick will not be asked to lock down Demaryius Thomas, but he will be asked to keep his side of the field free of big plays.
Top graded rookie CBs from week 1
Cowboys Run Defense vs Broncos Running Game
The Dallas Cowboys run defense held the Giants running backs to just 35 yards in week one, but has a much tougher matchup against Denver this Sunday.
C.J. Anderson finished Monday night's game with 81 yards on 20 carries. Along with Anderson's impressive night, Jamaal Charles looked like his old self in his first game as a Bronco.
Charles finished the night with 40 yards on 10 carries. The Cowboys will need Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee to have another big game at the linebacker spot, and Maliek Collins and Stephen Paea at the defensive tackle spot.
One big factor in this game is former Cowboy, now Bronco, Ronald Leary. Cowboys Nation is very familiar with Leary and how good of a run blocker he is. Unfortunately, Leary is in the league's concussion protocol and looks like a long shot to play in Sunday's game.
If Ron Leary is inactive for the game, that is a huge advantage for the Cowboys defensive line, in both the running game and passing game.
The Cowboys certainly do not want this game to be an air-battle between Dak Prescott and Trevor Siemian. Instead, Dallas should look to take advantage of playing against a 3-4 defense and run the ball hard at Denver's smaller outside linebackers.
The Cowboys defense looks to keep up the good work and put up another dominant performance against an offense that had no issues moving the football in their week one victory. The Cowboys secondary will be a man down with Orlando Scandrick likely missing the game due to a fracture in his hand, but look for Jourdan Lewis or Bene' Benwikere to step up and fill his role without any problems.
CIN 21, DAL 14: Dak Prescott Continues Strong Preseason in Loss
The games may not count yet, but Dak Prescott looks ready for the 2018 season. The Dallas Cowboys quarterback continued his strong preseason play in the team's 21-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Prescott played three series, going 10/15 for 86 yards and a touchdown. He got the offense out of trouble a few times with his feet, avoiding sacks and ultimately getting the scoring pass off on a redzone scramble.
Dak's strong play has coincided with shutdown performances from the starting defense. The Cowboys' first-team defenders have yet to allow a score in two preseason games. Tonight, the Bengals were forced into four punts and two turnovers on their first-half possessions.
Overall, the Cowboys are a combined 24-7 in the first halves of their first two preseason contests.
The second half has been the problem, and for two weeks now Dallas' reserves have squandered halftime leads and given up losses. Thankfully, most of the responsible players will not be on the final 53-man roster.
- There were several concerning injuries for the Cowboys tonight. None was scarier than when All-Pro guard Zack Martin went out with a knee injury, but it does not appear to have been serious. Starting defensive backs Byron Jones and Xavier Woods also got banged up; Byron returned to the game but Woods did not. Defensive lineman Datone Jones also left with a knee injury.
- Even more concerning was the play of the second-team offensive line. Chaz Green was typically awful, but we also saw swing tackle Cam Fleming struggling and just an overall lack of protection for the backups quarterbacks. Green got benched in the second half and may have finally played his way off the team.
- Credit to Terrance Williams for getting open in the endzone to give Dak Prescott a receiver for the touchdown throw. Even with his warts, Williams' two years of experience playing with Dak can't be ignored in deciding who makes the team.
- Tight end Blake Jarwin continues to run with the starters on offense and may have quietly taken the job away from Geoff Swaim.
- Darius Jackson took advantage of some extra playing time tonight after Bo Scarbrough left with a hip injury. He broke off a few nice runs to amass 42 yards on just six carries, plus had four receptions.
- We finally get to see Dan Bailey kick a field goal again, and it was an easy 35-yarder with no issues.
- Shout out to Chidobe Awuzie for one of the pretty interceptions that a Cowboys DB has made in some time. Awuzie had to bend like Beckham (Odell, that is) to get a hand on the ball, then tipped it to himself for the pick.
- Preseason fun continues for the Cowboys next Sunday when they host the Arizona Cardinals on NBC's Sunday Night Football.
#DALvsCIN: Can WR Lance Lenoir Continue To Impress?
Entering training camp projecting who would make the final roster from the Dallas Cowboys wide receiving room was a crapshoot. The combination of misfits from other teams, unproven young guys, and a couple of Cowboys veterans makes this position group the most questioned across the entire roster.
But while Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, and Michael Gallup were stealing headlines, Lance Lenoir was making a name for himself among the Cowboys faithful.
After serving on the practice squad for the Cowboys a year ago, Lenoir seems to have entered 2018 with one goal in mind: to make the official game-day roster. And even if he falls short of this goal, it won't be due to any fault of his own.
Day in and day out Lance Lenoir has been a consistent wide out, catching nearly everything thrown his way and running some of the crisper routes on the team. Under new receivers coach Sanjay Lal, Lenoir has become a technical route runner and dangerous receiving threat.
Maybe most importantly for his future with the team, Lenoir has developed an obvious chemistry with starting quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott has continued to compliment Lenoir throughout training camp, and you know that the Cowboys front office is well aware of Prescott's trust in Lenoir on the field.
During the preseason opener against the 49ers, Lance Lenoir caught his first touchdown of the season, dazzling with his toe-tap ability. If he is going to steal a roster spot away from one of the more seasoned wide outs, however, he will have to remain that consistent target.
This Saturday, Lenoir gets another shot to prove why he's not only deserving of a roster spot, but of a starting spot. Sure, it might be a bit of a stretch, but if he continues to play like he has during camp and preseason, Lenoir could find himself working with the 1's more frequently.
Look out for Lance Lenoir against the Bengals this week, as he makes it harder and harder for the Cowboys to cut him by the second.
#DALvsCIN: Bengals DL Gives Cowboys OL Formidable Test
During their preseason opener, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line faced its first test of the season. The young, athletic, and downright talented defensive line of the 49ers gave the Cowboys starting five a chance to gauge their offseason progress thus far.
I'd say the starting group passed the test, while the backups and depth players looked a bit more shaky. The good thing about football, though, is that they get a shot to do it all again this Saturday.
This week's opponent, the Cincinatti Bengals, feature some serious talent upfront. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins is one of the best interior defenders in all of football, terrorizing centers and guards since he entered the league.
On the edge is one of my 2017 draft favorites, Carl Lawson. Lawson was a draft target of mine for the Cowboys, but it appears the entire league missed on the stud edge rusher during that draft. During his rookie season a year ago, Lawson racked up 8.5 sacks and looked like the best rookie rusher in all of football. It's rare that a rookie defensive end tallies the sack total that Lawson did in 2017, but then again, Lawson is a rare type of player.
Opposite of Carl Lawson is veteran pass rusher Carlos Dunlap. Together, Atkins and Dunlap have been one of the more dangerous pass rush duos for quite some time, but the additions of Lawson and Jordan Willis make them an incredibly impressive group.
During the Bengals' preseason opener against the Chicago Bears, their defensive line looked to be in midseason form.
Though Geno Atkins had the team's only sack, the trio of Atkins, Lawson, and Dunlap looked as prolific as ever.
This deep and talented defensive line is a more-than worthy test for the Cowboys this Saturday. Rookie Connor Williams will likely have to block Geno Atkins at some point, and though he looked promising against the 49ers, this week presents a whole different challenge.
Many now expect veteran center Travis Frederick to miss Saturday's game as well, due to his shoulder troubles during training camp. If Frederick were to miss the start, Joe Looney would be thrown into the first against this first team defensive front of the Bengals.
A rookie at left guard and Looney at center might not be the best ingredients against Geno Atkins and company, but it'll be what they have to roll with.
Still, Saturday will give us another chance to see what the 2018 Dallas Cowboys offensive line is all about.
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