The “real games” may not start until September, but things almost got very real for the Cowboys tonight.
On the third play of their third preseason game, Dallas watched Tony Romo get crunched on a scrambling run. He lay on the turf holding his back, and the collective gut of Cowboys Nation was punched.
Thankfully, Romo got up and went to the sideline without help. He appeared to be okay and seemed to want to get back in, but was ultimately held out for the rest of the night. A few glimpses of Tony on the bench showed he was still favoring his back and wincing a little, but overall it appears that disaster was averted.
The Romo scare nearly overshadowed the debut of Ezekiel Elliott, who did not fail to impress. The Cowboys’ newest first-round pick had 48 yards on just seven carries, showing off his speed and power against the Seahawks’ top defensive players.
Despite missing Romo, Dez Bryant, Tyrone Crawford, and Orlando Scandrick the Cowboys went into halftime with a 10-10 tie. The Seahawks pulled away with their first-team units playing against Cowboys’ backups in the third quarter.
- Dak Prescott didn’t light up the scoreboard but may have been more impressive than ever. The rookie came in unexpectedly early after Romo’s injury and showed his usual poise against Seattle’s starting defense. He had a touchdown throw to Jason Witten and led the team on an impressive two-minute drive for a game-tying field goal before the half ended.
- Elliott’s debut deserve a little extra discussion. One play in particular, his spin away from Kam Chancellor, is the kind of “dynamic” move that helps explain why Dallas spent that high draft pick on him. Plenty of guys can chew up yards behind this offensive line, but Dallas wanted Elliott for those moments when special talent can be a difference maker.
- Despite missing Crawford and Scandrick, the Cowboys starting defense played solidly. Sean Lee was in on several plays and looked ready for another Pro Bowl season. Byron Jones also had a nice night.
- Dax Swanson, a low man on the cornerback depth chart, had a punt return touchdown called back on a penalty. It was his second impressive punt return of the preseason. If he has any developmental potential at corner, it could be enough to earn a spot on the practice squad.
- Speaking of the practice squad, receiver Rodney Smith showed what a year of experience can do with a good night. He and Jameil Showers connected on several throws and eventually a touchdown late in the game. Smith distinguished himself from Andy Jones, the much-hyped rookie who has been disappointing in preseason play.
- While the deadline for cutting down to 75 players isn’t until Tuesday, Dallas’ early Week 3 game could mean that cuts come at any point over the weekend. I’ll have my updated 53-man roster projection out tomorrow along with a prediction on who will be included in the first round of cuts.