It's only preseason is all you heard from any Cowboys' fan as they exited Levi's Stadium. That is all well and good but you would hope to see something and when you have an exhibition this awful, it's hard to have confidence in the depth along the roster. The Cowboys have a lot of work to do in this last week of training camp and even more to prepare themselves for the "dress rehearsal" in six days. Perhaps the best news came that no major injuries occurred other than a concussion for Brandon Weeden and possibly Jeff Heath. So what, if anything, could the Cowboys feel good about? What are some things that are concerning?
Dallas Cowboys Defensive Line Continues To Show Growth
Randy Gregory was one of our players to watch after the game in San Diego, and he surely did not disappoint. Gregory showed some true power at the defensive end position and was able to get to the quarterback for a second straight week and he forced two holding calls on the 49ers. Gregory has really been a wonderful surprise when most suggested he needed more weight to perform. He's had a great camp and it shows with every snap he takes. Obviously, working with Tyron Smith has been a tremendous learning tool for the rookie. He's going to be very good folks; very good. Ryan Russell saw his hard work pay off with a sack and has shown to be a solid addition to the rotation. Ben Gardner got his sack that sent Cowboys Nation into a frenzy. Another standout performer had to be Davon Coleman and for a while there it seemed he was the only one making the tackles. Solid performance for the "rushmen."
Offense Sputtered The Entire Game
Nothing went well for the offense.They were never able to create a rhythm and just spun out of control at times. The first-team offense was a shell of itself and practically doesn't count here. However, most of the backups played very poorly in this game especially along the offensive line. Dustin Vaughan returned to some of his problems that were occurring in practice. He was erratic and just couldn't make much happen except for forcing interceptions. Jameill Showers breathed some life late but then threw two picks himself. Darren McFadden was obviously rusty but Joseph Randle showed some good runs in limited action. Gus Johnson had a few nice runs as well but sadly nothing could revive them throughout the contest. The blocking by RJ Dill may have been worse than last week and it was obvious he's just not ready for this exposure. Gavin Escobar had a few flash plays as did Geoff Swaim and it will be interesting to continue to see how they fit in the offense.
Special Teams Struggled Once Again
Rich Bisaccia has had units that look bad in preseason but make the turnaround and be quite good once the games start counting. It was just a rough outing that never got better. They had trouble making tackles and almost never could get the return men down on the first shot. The majority of San Francisco's possessions took place near mid-field. Even Dan Bailey couldn't save them as he missed on a 43-yarder which was very unlike the most accurate kicker he is. Lucky Whitehead held onto the ball, which was a plus, and he had some nice runs to boot. It's still weird to see Jameill Showers willing to make tackles but there he was. The Cowboys really need to make some efforts in getting better in this area but surely will when some starters return.
Yes, it's only preseason but this is the time where the Cowboys build their roster depth. They we're missing over ten key contributors to this team, but they need a better effort from these young guys. That is what the preseason is all about and so far these guys fighting for positions haven't added much confidence. They still have two more contests to try and clean some stuff up, however some of these guys that have struggled may make the team. The backup offensive line including Darrion Weems (the favorite for the swing job) has been sub-par. The coaches know that they need better resumes to evaluate. Practice this week in Oxnard will be very intense as always, hopefully it can make one last push to get the best out of these second and third strings.