By Saturday afternoon, the Dallas Cowboys will have to trim their roster down from 75 players to 53, in preparations for the 2016 regular season opener at home against the New York Giants.
Based on what we saw tonight, in the team’s preseason finale loss to the Texans, Dallas will have some difficult decisions to make in shaping this roster.
In what is typically the least-watchable of preseason games, Jameill Showers played every offensive snap for the Cowboys. Behind his typical backup offensive line, Showers was average-at-best, although him and rookie RB Darius Jackson were responsible for putting the team ahead early.
After a David Irving forced fumble was recovered by Jeff Heath, Showers was able to capitalize on the field position by marching down the field and dumping a screen pass to Jackson on the final play.
Darius, who finds himself in an incredibly crowded backfield, did the rest of the work by sprinting to the end zone for his first NFL touchdown.
Initially, the Cowboys were able to hold onto their lead, as Deji Olatoye – who was tested throughout the game with his fair share of struggles – broke up a pass to end a Houston drive.
The Cowboys’ defense then came up with a red zone stop, as they held Brandon Weeden out of the end zone in his first action of the night. Mike McAdoo sacked Weeden on fourth down to preserve the Cowboys 7-0 lead.
Tom Savage would come back in at QB for Houston, and quickly tie the game following a Showers lost fumble. Starting at the Cowboys’ 19 yard line, Dallas once again forced a fourth and goal situation before Akeem Hunt rushed in from three yards out for the score.
Brandon Weeden would return before the end of the half, and take advantage of a Cowboys defense that was being put in tough situations throughout the night with the offense failing to sustain drives. Working against Olatoye, Keith Mumphery was able to get open and catch a pass in stride from Weeden for a 64 yard touchdown.
Trailing 14-7, the Cowboys’ coaching staff got a good look at Jameill Showers in a true two minute drill before the half. As has been in the case in the team’s first three preseason games with Dak Prescott in at QB, Showers was able to move the offense into range for a Dan Bailey 52 yard field goal.
The Cowboys entered the locker room trailing by just four points at 14-10, but Houston was able to regain control of the game in the second half to seal the win.
Savage returned under center to start the third quarter, and immediately led a long Texans’ touchdown drive to increase the lead to 21-10. Akeem Hunt found the painted area once again on fourth down, this time with a receiving touchdown.
In need of a spark that the offense just couldn’t provide, sixth round rookie defensive back Anthony Brown intercepted a Weeden pass on the next Texans’ possession and sprinted down the sideline for a pick six.
It was an electrifying play for the promising rookie, who was already considered a lock for the final 53 man roster, which is impressive in its own right for a player selected 189th overall. The play was also significant because it allowed the Cowboys to see more of Showers and the offense in a close game situation.
Unfortunately, 21-17 would be as close as they got. Darius Jackson failed to get anything going on the ground, forcing Showers into some desperate situations. Two turnovers on downs book-ended an Antonio Allen interception return for a touchdown, as the Texans came into AT&T Stadium and defeated the Cowboys 28-17.
Showers finished his night 10 of 25 for 91 yards, throwing the one touchdown to Jackson while also throwing a pick six out of his own end zone. Rico Gathers made his first reception in the silver and blue, and looked pretty dominant doing so, as he kept his balance going over a Houston defender for extra yards after the catch.
Defensively, linebackers Deon King and Derek Akunne showed up in a big way, as King amassed 11 tackles while Akunne added 10 of his own. Both players could be fighting for one spot on the team’s practice squad. Kavon Frazier continued to show some improved range at safety, while delivering some big hits in the process. His performance over this preseason could have the Cowboys seriously considering moving on from J.J. Wilcox, in order to go longer at other positions while saving cap room in the process.
As always, Inside The Star will have you updated leading all the way up to the Dallas Cowboys much anticipated regular season opener on September 11th. Regular season football is upon us, the New York Giants are coming to town, and Cowboys Nation is ready to go!
Share your thoughts on anything related to this game – or the entirety of the Cowboys’ preseason – by commenting below, tweeting me @ShoreSportsNJ, or emailing Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com.