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Dallas Cowboys News And Notes: Defense Strong, Special Teams Not

Some things of interest to come out of the Dallas Cowboys pre-season loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

With everyone having a night to sleep on things, some analysis is emerging from the turnover-marred performance by the Dallas Cowboys in the 12-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Cowboys first-team defense plays well - Calvin Watkins, ESPN NFC East Blog
The other two units are having some difficulties, but the first team defense, despite very limited time so far in the pre-season, is looking good.

It forced a three-and-out on the first drive, but a turnover, a muffed punt by Dwayne Harris, forced the defense to defend just 22 yards and it gave up a field goal. The second possession, a long drive, ended when Carson Palmer threw an incomplete pass on fourth down to finish the first quarter. Defensive end Jerome Long provided the pressure.

The final time the first-team defense was on the field, it gave up a first down, an 11-yard pass, but forced the Cardinals to punt.

Cowboys defense is bending but not breaking, allowing only 17 points per game - Charean Williams, Star-Telegram
It's not just the first team, either. The backups and players battling for a roster spot have been doing just about as well. Despite various injury issues, particularly on the defensive line, the depth has held up very well, and it looks like this whole Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli thing may just have been a pretty good idea.

The Cowboys are shifting from the 3-4 to the 4-3 a season after allowing the most yards in team history. They have allowed 1,111 yards in three preseason games, an average of 370.3, but have allowed only 51 points, an average of 17 per game. They have forced five turnovers after getting only 16 in 16 regular-season games last year.

Special teams woes continue - Calvin Watkins, ESPN Dallas
While Kiffin and Marinelli seem to have things well in hand, Rich Bisaccia is having a real struggle with his charges.

In the last two weeks, the Cowboys have had two muffed punts, a blocked field goal and allowed at least two kick returns of over 25 yards.

(Jason) Garrett said after the Raiders game he was pleased with how the younger players reacted to the speed of the game on special teams but still wanted execution. The players ran well on all the special teams units, but it should be somewhat concerning the special teams units have gone consecutive weeks with turnovers.

Rookie Holloman shows nose for the ball - Tim MacMahon, ESPN NFC East Blog
DeVonte Holloman has emerged as a real star from among this year's draftees, and may be the best value that Dallas got in the draft. The head coach indicates that his two interceptions so far this year are in line with what the team thought they had when they picked him.

"We saw that in college coming out," head coach Jason Garrett said of Holloman, who had seven career interceptions at South Carolina. "We saw that really throughout [offseason training activities] and training camp. He's got a nose for it. He's an athletic guy, and those are difference-making plays in the game."

Rookie LB DeVonte Holloman has earned himself a nickname… - Rainer Sabin, DMN
The interception against the Cardinals was not the only standout play that Holloman made in the game.

And it could have been the second turnover Holloman caused in the second quarter alone. The sixth-round draft pick had previously jarred the ball loose from Stanton on a six-yard sack. But a replay showed the quarterback's arm was moving forward, negating the fumble.

"Hands Holloman," safety Will Allen said. "He's going to be a good player for us."

Cowboys pleased with Gavin Escobar - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
There has been some concern about the early performance of the Cowboys' rookie tight end, but he may be turning things around after a very good night against Arizona.

In the first two preseason games the Dallas Cowboys mostly used Gavin Escobar as an on-the-line tight end to test his blocking ability.

Escobar had some rocky moments, but in Saturday's 12-7 loss at Arizona, Escobar, the Cowboys' second-round pick, lined up on the line, as the H-back, in the backfield and split out wide. He caught all five passes thrown his way for 32 yards and the Cowboys' only touchdown.

Arkin Impresses Again; Dunbar, Tanney & More - Bryan Broaddus,
Broaddus names some of the players he felt had good games. In acknowledgment of just how crucial the offensive line is to this season, he starts his article off with the often maligned David Arkin.

Arkin was not perfect and was actually poor on two plays where he looked like the player of old. He was over extended and off balance and when he plays that way, he is no good to this line. During this game, he drew Arizona's best defensive linemen, Calais Campbell and was able to play him to a draw. Arkin's hands and feet worked very well together and he didn't put himself in difficult positions to block. He was able to work with both Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith to pass stunts or to help when uncovered. In the running game, he had some good fits but still plays on the edge at times too which he will need to clean up.

What David Arkin has shown in this camp that he does have the flexibility to play either guard spot in a backup role and be dependable. Ronald Leary and Mackenzy Bernadeau are better players and should start over Arkin but the days of questioning why he still is on this team will no longer be asked by me.

Stock Report: Arkin up and Orton down - Calvin Watkins, ESPN NFC East Blog
It is good to see Arkin getting positive reviews in more than one place. But there were some clear negatives in the game as well, and not just the insurmountable turnovers.

Run defense. The Cowboys' first-team defense did a nice job against the run, but it went haywire afterward. Arizona rushed for 105 yards on 31 attempts and picked up gains of 11, 11, 24 and 10 yards. The Cowboys need to get more physical up front.

Ben Bass relieved by first sack - Todd Archer, ESPN NFC East Blog
Bass was one of the early stars in camp. Things have been a little quieter for him, with a little time out after getting nicked up, but he showed up again against Arizona.

"You work so hard to get to the quarterback throughout the week that when you don't get there in a game, it stinks," Bass said. "To finally get what you've been looking for is nice. Now I just need to go get some more."

Cowboys return to Texas; but can they beat the heat? - Rainer Sabin, DMN
The Cowboys are finally back home, and now they have a new concern to deal with after the cool conditions in Oxnard.

After enjoying the balmy weather of Southern California for almost a month, the Cowboys' next practice will take place back in toasty Texas. The team will hit the field at its Valley Ranch headquarters at 8:15 a.m. Monday morning in an effort to beat the heat. Walkthroughs and team meetings will be held afterwards.

Watch Cowboys Practice for Free at Silver and Blue Debut on August 22 - Torrey McGraw, Arlington Texas Today
I mentioned this before, but thought it is worth a repeat.

You can watch the team practice for free! It's the annual Silver and Blue Debut and it will happen on Thursday, August 22nd at AT&T Stadium.

The practice is free and open to the public beginning at 5:30 p.m. You will have to ante up $10 for parking, though.

If you happen to be able to make it, you might want to keep an eye out for an old guy in a Blogging The Boys shirt. Just a hint.


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