Dallas Cowboys football is finally back!
This week we have the honor of being able to watch Da' Boyz back in action against the San Francisco 49ers in their first preseason game in 2018. Unfortunately, I don't expect the Cowboys starters see much action in this first contest, but it is still an important game to watch nonetheless.
I'd be surprised if we saw the Cowboys starters see more than a series of action. We don't typically see the them play much until the third preseason game, better known as the dress rehearsal. But, that doesn't mean some of the younger guys who could play prominent roles this season see quite a bit of playing time against the 49ers.
With that in mind, I've decided to share with you five storylines I will be paying particularly close attention to in the Dallas Cowboys first preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers. Please continue reading below to see what they are.
LB Jaylon Smith's Health and Fit
I don't know about you, but I'm personally going to be paying really close attention to what a healthier Jaylon Smith looks like this preseason and where he fits on defense. His comeback from a devastating knee injury has been one of the biggest storylines for the past few years, so seeing how he has progressed is something I'm really interested in.
Against the 49ers, I will be watching to see how Smith is moving around. He has been practicing without the knee brace he played with last season, but it will be interesting to see if he continues to do so in a game situation. I will also be watching to see how he was utilized. Will he be moved around? Will he rotate with Leighton Vander Smith? With all of the unknown and excitement surrounding Smith, there will probably be no shortage of eyes on him.
Connor Williams' Play at LG
Left Guard Connor Williams is also one of the bigger storylines I will be paying attention to in the Dallas Cowboys first preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers. We really haven't heard much about him so far in training camp, which could be viewed as a positive or a negative. I for one choose to believe it's positive news.
The reason I will be watching Williams' play closely is because I think he is arguably the best Cowboys draft pick this year. I think how he plays this season could ultimately decide how the overall offense performs. I believe he will be an upgrade at LG from a season ago, but we will likely see some growing pains along the way. Hopefully he will be able to get off to a quick start against a talented 49ers defensive front and continue to build upon that heading into the season.
The Revamped WR Position
In hopes of getting more production out of their wide receivers, the Dallas Cowboys decide to pretty much revamp the position during the offseason. To do so, they signed a few free agents (Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson) and also drafted a couple (Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson). But, they didn't stop there. They also traded for Tavon Austin.
With so many new faces, there's a lot of unknown and excitement surrounding the Cowboys WR position. We could see an entirely different passing game from the Cowboys offense this season, and the 49ers game should provide the first glimpse. Hopefully, all of these new additions and the way all of the WRs are utilized pays off, helping Dak Prescott become a better Quarterback.
Who gets first crack at Tight End?
If your a Dallas Cowboys fan, I'm sure you're going to be paying really close attention to the tight end position to see who gets the first crack at replacing Jason Witten. As things stand right now, there really is no clear-cut favorite to earn that honor, which is why it is one of the more intriguing storylines heading into the matchup against the 49ers.
It will be really interesting to see how each one of the Cowboys TEs are deployed and in what situations. Rico Gathers for instance needs to prove he is more than a "flash" player if he wants to stick around. He is probably going to have to prove he can be a competent blocker in the running game as well. One thing is for sure though, everyone of the TEs will likely get a shot to prove what they can do.
How will Xavier Woods look in new role?
Arguably the biggest storyline this offseason for the Dallas Cowboys was whether or not they should trade for Seattle Seahawks Safety Earl Thomas. The speculation started at the end of the 2017 season, and hasn't really lost any steam since then. I'm personally not going to hold my breath that this will happen and it's all because of my faith in Xavier Woods.
I'm personally really excited to see how Xavier Woods plays in his new role this season. He will likely take over for Byron Jones at safety. I highly doubt we see a drop off in production. Woods is a talented player and I'm really looking to forward to seeing how we performs against the 49ers. I don't know about you, but I'm expecting big things from him this year.
What will you be watching for in the Dallas Cowboys preseason matchup against the San Francisco 49ers?
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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