Cowboys @ Raiders: Game Balls

Enjoy the Gatorade Dez, you earned it. - Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys didn't produce another win in their second game of the pre-season, but there were some players who stood out and it's time to recognize them for their performances against the Oakland Raiders.

After a strong start and good overall performance in their first game of the pre-season, the Dallas Cowboys weren't as sharp in against the Oakland Raiders. In their second test, the Cowboys were definitely a little more sloppy than they were against the Miami Dolphins.

Penalties and turnovers plagued the team and there were a lot of mental lapses. Hopefully this isn't a sign of things to come, but it's early and this is what the pre-season is for. This is the time to work out some of these issues and find a way to move forward and prepare this football team for the upcoming regular season.

While Dallas lost this game and didn't look on top of their game, there were a lot of positives to take away from it. The starters looked really good and Tony Romo received a lot of time to pass the ball. He did take a sack early on, but Romo received adequate time to find his receivers and put an accurate throw into their hands. So far the offensive line looks like it has improved from 2012.

Defensively, Monte Kiffin's first team looked good as well. DeMarcus Ware looked strong and fast, flying off the line and into the backfield. Seeing Sean Lee blitz was also a good sign because that's an element of Lee's game that has been underutilized in the previous 3-4 scheme.

Let's take the time to take a closer look and hand out some game balls for some certain individuals who stood out in Oakland.

Dez Bryant

Bryant continues to elevate his game and in his first action of the pre-season he looked unstoppable. Dez toyed with former teammate Mike Jenkins and it was very entertaining to watch. Bryant has always been a talkative player and he showed that the other night. A huge part of his game is confidence and when that element is flowing high, Dez can be a problem for the opposing defense.

Even though it was a small sample, Bryant's route running looked on point. Whether it was adjusting on a smoke route and then taking it up the field or planting his foot in the ground and finding a hole in the zone, Dez made it look easy. When you can make it look easy, then you are on another level.

If he stays healthy, Dez is going to have a monster season. He's just too big, too strong and too quick for cornerbacks to compete with.

Cole Beasley

The wide receiver competition is in the heat of battle right now and Beasley is solidifying his spot on this football team. Last week I said that the Cowboys must find out if the small wide receiver can stretch the field and make tough catches deep in the secondary. We all know that Beasley can work the underneath stuff and use his quickness to be a weapon. It was good to see him have success on some of the other aspects of his game that he's been working on.

If the pass had been over his shoulder last week, Beasley would have probably scored a touchdown. This week Kyle Orton secured an accurate throw and Beasley came down with a great catch for six points.

Beasley's 15-yard touchdown in single coverage was impressive, but he really played well outside of that play. I'd say his roster spot is safe and he could become another weapon for Tony Romo to use.

J.J. Wilcox

Last week Wilcox racked up a lot of tackles but he didn't have a great game and looked out of place. Against the Raiders he stepped his game up and delivered a performance that should make his coaches proud. Fewer mistakes and improvements in the mental aspect of the game definitely helped him be in the right place at the right time.

Perhaps the biggest play of the night came on Wilcox's interception of Terrelle Pryor in the end zone. Wilcox showed great awareness and didn't get sucked in by Pryor who was on the move and rolling out to his right. Instead of rushing up or moving out of the incorrect position, Wilcox read Pryor's eyes and kept his hips open. When the quarterback made the mistake of throwing it back across the field into a tight spot, the safety capitalized and showed that he has soft hands by securing the interception.

This was a strong performance for the young safety, but he still has a long way to go. It was encouraging to see Wilcox make progress after his rocky start.

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