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Game Notes

6 Cowboys Players To Watch Against Houston Texans

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - 6 Cowboys Players To Watch Against Houston Texans

The Dallas Cowboys will play their fourth and final preseason game against the Houston Texans tonight at AT&T Stadium. I'm almost positive that there will be a lot of interstate trash talk between both Cowboys and Texans fans, but that's about all the excitement we can expect out of this game.

I think we can all pretty much agree that this game is sometimes hard to watch because it's mostly played with the players that are fighting to earn the final few available roster spots on their respective teams.

The Dallas Cowboys may have some tough decision to make and this ultimately may determine the fate of who is in and who is out when it comes to figuring out the final 53 man roster.

I decided to share with all of you three players on offense and three players on defense who I will be keeping a close eye on tonight against Houston Texans. I think that the performance of all of these players could have a big impact on the outcome of the 53 man roster.

I thought it was important to remind everyone that these players competing tonight are not only competing for spots with their teams, but the other 31 teams that make up the NFL as well. So, try to keep that in mind when watching the game.

Without further do, here are the players I will be keeping a close watchful eye on tonight.

Offense

Jameill Showers, #7

Cowboys Headlines - 6 Cowboys Players To Watch Against Houston Texans 1I'm really looking forward to seeing Jameill Showers get a chance to really showcase his skill set against the Houston Texans in the last preseason game.

I've been a fan of his since last season and thought that he would make a good backup quarterback down the road in the future.

In fact, I actually had high hopes that he would be the one accomplishing what Dak Prescott has been in these preseason games. That hasn't been the case, but Showers has had his moments too despite playing mostly with the backup/reserve players.

Tonight, I will be watching Showers to see if the Dallas Cowboys could possibly feel comfortable enough with him backing up Prescott until Tony Romo is able to return. If he performs well enough that would allow the Cowboys organization to avoid adding a veteran QB and stick with what they have on the roster.

Austin Traylor, #86

Cowboys Headlines - 6 Cowboys Players To Watch Against Houston Texans 4

James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

I noticed last week against the Seattle Seahawks that when the Cowboys offense went to the two tight end set it was Austin Traylor that was on the field with the first-team unit. I think this could possibly mean the end of Gavin Escobar's tenure in Dallas.

Is Escobar a tradable commodity?

Traylor is probably the second best blocking tight end on the Cowboys roster, behind only Jason Witten, and it's that reason alone I see him making the final 53 man roster.

I'm going to be paying close attention to see if the Cowboys try to get him involved in the passing game a little more, but ultimately he makes this team for his blocking capabilities.

Darius Jackson, #34

Cowboys Headlines - 6 Cowboys Players To Watch Against Houston Texans 3If rumors are true the Dallas Cowboys received trade interest for Darren McFadden and ultimately decided to turn them down. It really got me thinking if that means that Darius Jackson's chances of making the 53 man roster are slim to none.

I personally think that the Cowboys will carry four running backs on the roster and it will come down to either McFadden or Jackson for that final spot.

McFadden has the trust of the coaching staff, but Jackson's potential to be a really good running back in the NFL has me leaning more towards keeping him over McFadden. I think if he can have a good showing against the Texans, he is going to make it really difficult for the coaching staff to release him.

Defense

Kavon Frazier, #35

Cowboys Headlines - 6 Cowboys Players To Watch Against Houston Texans 5Kavon Frazier hasn't showed up as much as I would've liked in the first three preseason games, but he should see extended playing time against the Houston Texans.

As things stand right now, I have the Dallas Cowboys keeping only four safeties on the roster and Frazier to me has done enough to make the team, thus making JJ Wilcox expendable.

This is mostly based on Frazier's future potential and the fact that Wilcox has continued to struggle in the passing game. I still however want to see #35 make more plays on the ball and that's why I will be watching him closely against the Texans.

Damien Wilson, #57

Cowboys Headlines - 6 Cowboys Players To Watch Against Houston Texans 6The Dallas Cowboys linebacker situation has been a little bit concerning to me ever since we learned of the news that Rolando McClain would be suspended for the first 10 games of the 2016 season, causing the depth of the position to become a concern.

With the exception of Sean Lee, the rest of the LB's on the roster are virtually young and unproven.

Mark Nzeocha was showing promise until he strained his Achilles and Damien Wilson has the physical skill set to be a valued backup player at the position. Since Nzeocha still isn't expected to play against the Texans, I will be keeping a close eye on how Wilson performs.

Wilson needs to improve his consistency. He has a tendency to over run plays because he's in a hurry to make a tackle and that's one of the things I'll be watching to see if he improves that part of his game against the Texans.

Ryan Russell, #99

Cowboys Headlines - 6 Cowboys Players To Watch Against Houston Texans 7The Dallas Cowboys pass rush is without a doubt the weak link on the defense and someone has to step up.

Ryan Russell has shown improvement in his second year in the NFL, but for some reason or another hasn't been able to finish plays when he has had the chance.

Russell has been able to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks and sometimes a little bit of pressure is all it takes to rattle a QB, but I honestly want to see more.

I will be watching to see if Russell will be able to finish the play and get the QB sack. It's an area that the Cowboys defense needs to improve so that they can get off the field when it matters most.

What Cowboys players will you be watching against the Texans?

Please feel free to take advantage of the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions on this topic or to share with us what players you will be watching.



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

Game Notes

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Giants

Brian Martin

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Giants

I don't know about you, but I feel a lot better this week about the Dallas Cowboys after they thoroughly controled the game against the New York Giants last Sunday night. It amazes me how much better they played in the second week of the 2018 season as opposed to what they put on the field Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers.

The Dallas Cowboys performed better in all three phases of the game. The defense was simply outstanding, the offense looked much improved, and the fact that there weren't any breakdowns on special teams is an added plus. Overall, it's hard to be too disappointed with the way the overall team performed Sunday.

With all of that in mind, I want to share with you what I believe is The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for the Dallas Cowboys from the primetime matchup with the division rival New York Giants. I know you may disagree with what I decided to go with in each category, but that's part of the fun of it.

The Good

Taco Charlton

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

If you watched the Dallas Cowboys against the New York Giants Sunday night then you pretty much know what the good was. How could I not go with the Cowboys defense? They were simply phenomenal against the Giants and are starting to become the identity of this year's team.

The Cowboys pass rush continuously put pressure on Quarterback Eli Manning and ended the game with six QB sacks. Nearly every defensive lineman got in on the action, which is hopefully a sign of things to come. The secondary was also really impressive. They played man-to-man coverage nearly the entire game and shut down the Giants aerial attack, including Odell Beckham Jr.

I was also really pleased to see the Cowboys linebackers playing much better. You may not have noticed, but the coaching staff is going with a rotation of sorts with the LBs, and it really looked as if it's helping keep them fresh. This could pay huge dividends moving forward, especially with Sean Lee's injury concerns.

The Bad

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

I debated several different things to put in this section, but ultimately I decided the bad for the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night was Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game. Yes, it was better than what we saw from them in Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done from both Prescott and his receivers.

Unfortunately, Prescott only completed 16 of 25 passes for 160 yards and one touchdown against the Giants. Those are nearly identical numbers to what he put up against the Panthers, the only difference is he was much more successful on the ground, rushing for 45 yards on seven carries. If you take away his long TD completion to Wide Receiver Tavon Austin, those numbers are even more depressing.

The passing game and Dak Prescott needs to improve dramatically. The Cowboys simply aren't going to be able to continue to win games like this. The offense should've been able to put up a lot more points on the Giants Sunday night. Hopefully, things will continue to get better because if not, the Cowboys are in trouble.

The Ugly

There was a number of different directions I could've gone here, but for me the ugly for the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night against the Giants was the penalties. Penalties became a problem for the Cowboys in Week 1 against the Panthers and once again reared their ugly head against the Giants. Unfortunately, this has continuously been a problem under the tutelage of Head Coach Jason Garrett.

The Dallas Cowboys were lucky that the untimely penalties didn't have much impact on the outcome of the game. If they would have been playing a better team than the Giants, they probably wouldn't have overcome the long down and distances. I want to believe this can be cleaned up, but Jason Garrett's going to have to start holding his players accountable, which at this point seems a little unlikely.

The Cowboys players are going to take it upon themselves to cut down the penalties. Most of the time it's just mental mistakes, so there is reason to believe they can accomplish this task. But, they are really going to have to buckle down and focus on remaining consistent down after down.

What is your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the Giants?



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Game Notes

Monday Morning Hangover: Cowboys Bounce Back Against Giants

Brian Martin

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Monday Morning Hangover: Cowboys Bounce Back Against Giants

Unlike last week, today's Monday morning hangover isn't nearly as bad. Thankfully, the Dallas Cowboys had a bounce back game against the New York Giants Sunday night, meaning you were probably drinking in celebration instead of drowning your sorrows. Hopefully, this continues.

Today, I want to do a little recap over what took place last night for the Dallas Cowboys and share with you some of the good and not so good I observed. Luckily, there was much more good for the Cowboys compared to what they put on the field Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers.

First off, how impressive was the Cowboys defensive play against the Giants? The pass rush consistently put pressure on Eli Manning and finished the night with six quarterback sacks. Nearly all of the defensive line got in on the action. I think we can credit Passing Game Coordinator and Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard for the aggressive game plan.

The pass rush wasn't all that was dominant against the Giants for the Cowboys defense. Dallas' secondary pretty much shut down Odell Beckham Jr. and the rest of the Giants aerial attack. They played man-to-man coverage nearly the entire night and it paid off. Again, I think we can give credit to Kris Richard. He's changed how these defensive backs are being utilized.

Jeff Heath, Saquon Barkley

Dallas Cowboys S Jeff Heath (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

The one negative I took away from the Cowboys defensive performance was the missed tackles once again. There were several Cowboys defenders who failed to take down Giants Running Back Saquon Barkley on first contact. Barkley unfortunately was able to pick up several yards after contact because of this. Tackling was a problem against the Panthers as well and it needs to be cleaned up in a hurry.

Offensively, the Dallas Cowboys looked like an entirely different unit than what took the field in Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers. Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan was much more aggressive with his playcalling, evidenced by the long touchdown pass to Tavon Austin on the first offensive series.

Unlike against the Panthers, Linehan put Dak Prescott in the best position to succeed. He didn't have No. 4 sit in the pocket, instead he put him on the move and allowed him to use his mobility to put pressure on the Giants defense. I believe this is where Prescott is at his best and should continued to be utilized in this manner.

Ezekiel Elliott didn't have the biggest rushing totals, but we all know the Giants defense was trying to take him out of the game. He finished the night with 78 rushing yards on 17 carries, but he did manage to pretty much put the game away with a rushing TD. Personally, I would love to see Zeke more involved in the passing game, especially down the field instead of around on a scrimmage.

All in all, the Dallas Cowboys did what they needed to do in order to secure the victory. They still have several things they need to clean up and improve upon, but what team doesn't at this point in the season. Now, they need to carry over this momentum into Week 3 on the road against the Seattle Seahawks.

What do you think about the Dallas Cowboys performance against the Giants?



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Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Secondary Play, Improved OL Stand Out in Cowboys Win Vs. Giants

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Secondary Play, Improved OL Play Stand Out in Cowboys Win Vs. Giants
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

Not many things about the Dallas Cowboys performance through two weeks has been pretty, but when they look up on Monday morning they'll be leading the NFC East at 1-1. Evening their record with a win on Sunday Night Football against the New York Giants, the Cowboys did enough in front of their home crowd to hold off a late Eli Manning comeback.

Tavon Austin's long opening touchdown would set the tone for the Cowboys on their first possession. Points would be at a premium for both teams the rest of the way, leaving the Cowboys with plenty to like about their defense and reason to be encouraged on offense.

Here are my full takeaways from the Cowboys first win of 2018.

  • There aren't enough good things to say about the play call from Scott Linehan to get the ball over the top to Tavon Austin for the Cowboys first touchdown. 

The Cowboys were able to take advantage of Giants Safety Landon Collins playing down in the box, something he's had success doing against Dallas before. I thought that trend could continue when Collins called out the Cowboys offense leading up to this game, but it was Dak Prescott getting the last laugh.

Prescott knew exactly where the ball needed to be placed once Austin beat Janoris Jenkins cleanly, giving Tavon room to run under it and find the end zone for the first time as a Cowboy.

  • It was another tough match up for rookie Left Guard Connor Williams, but this time he was up for the challenge of playing on the second level and getting out in space.

The Cowboys should be happy with Williams' steady progress at LG, as he took another step forward on Sunday night. A converted tackle from college, Williams looked much better playing on the move, which is when the entire Cowboys OL is at its best.

Not only was Williams comfortable handling more wrinkles in the play book, but he was able to play with improved power and leverage to get to the second level often. With Center Joe Looney holding his own against Damon Harrison, the Cowboys went back to their roots in grinding out this NFC East win.

  • That's a fantastic play by Jeff Heath to run across the field and tackle Evan Engram short of the line to gain on third down.

The Giants drive would continue with a fourth down conversion, but the Cowboys defense did eventually force a punt.

The Cowboys safeties were primarily called upon to play in run support in this game, a role Heath has struggled in previously. Showing off his strengths as an athletic and rangy defensive back on this play, Heath didn't get pushed up the field by Engram on his release, hunting him down after the catch in front of a fired up Dallas bench.

  • Speaking of the Cowboys safety usage in this game, it was a standout performance against Odell Beckham Jr. and the Giants receivers by Cornerbacks Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie. 

Both Awuzie and Jones were asked to play on an island for much of this game, and handled this as well as Kris Richard could ask for. Beckham's longest reception was for 17 yards. The Cowboys kept the Giants best play maker in front of them all night, giving them a fighting chance to slow down RB Saquon Barkley.

Barkley was able to punish the Cowboys front seven a number of times with broken tackles, but never escaped the Cowboys grasp enough for the Giants to sustain a drive until the fourth quarter.

I'm not sure if the Cowboys strong cornerback duo of Awuzie and Jones were expected to play this well as early into the season as we are, but their man coverage ability has really allowed Dallas to mix things up on defense.

  • Kris Richard's impact on the Cowboys defense went beyond the secondary play against the Giants, as the team remained aggressive in blitzing the Giants offensive line.

It sure felt good to see the Cowboys exploit the Giants weakness up front, not content with letting their front four create the only advantage on defense. Knowing what Eli Manning is capable of when sitting in the pocket, the Cowboys disrupted the Giants passer all night by relentlessly sending stunts and blitzes at him.

Damien Wilson had a bounce back game at linebacker by using his speed to pressure Manning. Getting home for a game-changing sack, Wilson knocked the ball out of Manning's hand and created a turnover for his defense.

Defensive End Taco Charlton, who had a sack from the RDE position, recovered the fumble for Dallas. It was the right side of the offensive line for the Giants that let them down, but with so much attention being given to DeMarcus Lawrence at left end, Charlton simply had a free run at Manning for his sack.

  • That's a bad miss by Dak Prescott of Rico Gathers in the end zone off the Cowboys only turnover.

Looking to put the game away after their fumble recovery, the Cowboys called the perfect play for Tight End Rico Gathers - who was active in a regular season game for the first time. The play became an example of just how far criticism of Scott Linehan should stretch, as Prescott simply didn't execute.

Gathers sold his route up the field perfectly, breaking for the back corner of the end zone and running to open space before finding the ball sail over his head. Had Prescott thrown a better ball, Gathers turns around and easily secures a touchdown.

Who knows what the internet would be like this morning if he did. Nonetheless, the Cowboys settled for a Brett Maher field goal and took a 13-0 advantage before the Giants began their climb back into the game.

The Cowboys shouldn't be discouraged from using Gathers more in the passing game, but whether or not they will depends on the numbers they need on the active roster each game day.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The only NFC East team to earn a win in week two, the Cowboys have a long way to go to prove they're contenders in the division. With the Seahawks coming to town this week, the Cowboys will be reminded of how quickly things can go wrong, as Seattle's win in AT&T Stadium a year ago ended their hopes of making the playoffs.

On Sunday night, it was the Cowboys hindering the Giants chance to do just that by forcing an 0-2 start in New York. The Cowboys were impressive in their control of the game, executing a great game plan on defense while the offense started fast and finished with a physical drive in the fourth quarter.

Getting back to work after a win is always best, and such is the week ahead for the Dallas Cowboys.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Secondary Play, Improved OL Stand Out in Cowboys Win Vs. Giants" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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