The Cowboys improved to 2-1 this preseason with a home win, edging the Seattle Seahawks 27-26 in their final preliminary game. But the real story tonight came from seeing who played and who didn't as Dallas' 2022 roster continued taking shape before our eyes.
Some players who didn't really need to stand out anymore still shined. Safeties Israel Mukuamu and Markquese Bell, already pegged to make the 53-man roster, each had interceptions. We also continued to see the potential from young prospects like DE Sam Williams, LB Jabril Cox, and CB DaRon Bland.
Some things we learned by who didn't suit up at all, or who we only saw briefly. QB Cooper Rush started the game and only played one drive before Will Grier entered. It seemed a symbolic gesture indicating that Rush is still the primary backup for now.
Grier started slow but improved over time, eventually throwing touchdown passes to receivers Simi Fehoko and Brandon Smith to help Dallas take the lead.Will finished with 88 yards passing and 26 rushing, showing his scrambling ability several times, in a solid showing despite the Cowboys' offensive line woes.
The battle for the third running back spot appears to have been won by Rico Dowdle, who was a healthy scratch tonight. Malik Davis still showed some good things with tough running in limited space and Aaron Shampklin also impressed with his touches. Unfortunately, Shampklin appeared to suffer a significant lower-leg injury near the end of the game.
Brett Maher got several chances to earn trust with three field-goal attempts and three extra points. He connected on all but one field goal, a 61-yard attempt that appeared to have the distance but went a little left.
Perhaps no one player was talked about more than OT Josh Ball, which is hardly what you want from an offensive lineman. Ball faced heavy scrutiny from the local broadcast team tonight but held up better in pass protection than we saw in Denver or Los Angeles.
Still, the story of Tyron Smith's injury hung over this game and remains the biggest question as the Cowboys finalize their plans for the regular season. Tyler Smith sat out tonight with the starters, suggesting his role for Week One, but even that prospect comes with reasonable anxiety.
Dallas now has until Tuesday's deadline to reduce the roster to 53 players. Tonight ended on a high note for most, but the next few days are going to be tough for about a third of the guys who enjoyed it.