The Cowboys sat out 17 starters and other key players in their preseason debut tonight. It showed as Dallas was mostly outclassed by the Denver Broncos and lost 17-7 on the road.
Dallas' backups looked the part in an underwhelming showing. Perhaps the biggest issue, consistent throughout the night, was a high number of penalties that helped erase some of the better offensive plays and kept Denver's drives alive.
Cowboys out vs Broncos:Dak, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, CeeDee Lamb, Micah Parsons,Trevon Diggs, DeMarcus Lawrence, Osa Odighizuwa and Dorance Armstrong, Leighton Vander Esch, Jabril Cox, Jayron Kearse, Jourdan Lewis, Anthony Brown and Donovan Wilson
Cooper Rush was one of the night's biggest losers. Starting in Dak Prescott's place and playing most of the game, Rush finished 12-of-20 with just 84 yards and an interception. While Cooper was affected by the penalty issues and poor offensive line play, he also made poor decisions and did nothing to help matters.
Backup tackle Josh Ball also took a big hit with his performance. Getting an extended tryout at left tackle throughout the game, Ball consistently struggled and looked poorly suited for any meaningful role this season. He may be better on the right side than the left, but that means the Cowboys have to start looking for help behind Tyron Smith.
Kicker Lirim Hajrullahu had a shot at a 56-yarder, not a tall task in Denver's altitude, and went wide right. It was the Cowboys' only field goal attempt, though Brett Maher did hit the extra point after a late touchdown.
It wasn't all bad, of course. We saw some nice running from Rico Dowdle, Malik Davis, and Aaron Shampklin that makes the RB3 battle even more intriguing going forward. Rookie TE Jake Ferguson showed up on some nice receiving plays. Ben DiNucci and Simi Fehoko connected for a touchdown and DiNucci managed to look more impactful than Rush overall.
Defensively, the front line looked great early with Neville Gallimore, Dante Fowler, and others making disruptive plays. Rookie Sam Williams showed well despite some ticky-tacky calls. The defensive backs were aggressive and had some would-be picks negated by penalties or drops, but at least showed things the coaches can build on.
The Cowboys will remain on the west coast for joint practices with the Los Angeles Chargers and their preseason meeting at SoFi Stadium next Saturday night. Hopefully, more of Dallas' top players will be involved to make it a more competitive game.