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Dallas Cowboys News And Notes: Cowboys Fall To Vikings; Defense Continues Strong Preseason Play

All the news that's fit to link. Today's top storylines: Cowboys lose preseason home opener; some guys played well, some didn't; Dez now 0-3 in preseason participation; Tweetbreak!; Sturm dispenses knowledge; some Oxnard leftovers.

Did Run-DMC take a lead in the RBBC standings?
Did Run-DMC take a lead in the RBBC standings?
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Obviously, the top story is that the Cowboys fell to Minnesota 28-14 on Saturday night. Here are some game summaries in case you missed them. Incidentally, the good news seems to be largely defensive in nature:

GAME RECAP: Starters Look Ready; Cowboys Fall 28-14 - Kurt Daniels, The Mothership

The Cowboys defensive starters played the entire first half, Daniels reports, with the front line harassing Minnesota’s quarterbacks throughout the first half. Just ask their emerging 3-tech:

"We were playing our type of ball," said defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford. "We were quick off the line, as far as the front, and we were communicating well. We were playing fast, on our keys, and I like how we were getting three-and-outs."

Cowboys Drop "Dress Rehearsal" Game To Vikings 28-14, But See What They Need To From Starters - Tom Ryle, BTB
Tom's message for all of us:

Tony Romo was sharp, the defense was penetrating, and nobody got hurt. Mission accomplished.

Dallas Cowboys see just enough improvement - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

Archer's game summary offers several analytical categories. Here's a positive for the defense:

Stat of note: To be a great defense, you have to be great on third down. The Cowboys' first-team defense held the Vikings without a first down on five chances in the first half. Brandon Carr's interception came on a third-down play, as did a Randy Gregory sack.

5 thoughts: Tony Romo looks ready for Week 1; Darren McFadden, Brandon Carr also impress - Jon Machota, DMN

Machota comes up with an even handful of salient observations. Here's the index finger:

2.) Rod Marinelli has a lot of pass rushing combinations to work with. He used most of them in the first half against Minnesota. Randy Gregory stood out most because he recorded his third sack in as many preseason games and hit the QB twice. The second-round pick had a lot of help from DeMarcus Lawrence and Greg Hardy on the play. Both players did a good job of collapsing the pocket. Hardy again played tackle and both end spots. Marinelli wants an eight-man rotation. Early in the game, he rotated Gregory, Hardy, Lawrence, Jeremy Mincey, Nick Hayden, Tyrone Crawford, Jack Crawford and Terrell McClain on one series.

Dallas Cowboys first team impresses in preseason loss to Minnesota Vikings - Mark Lane, FOX Sports Southwest

Although they fell to the Vikes, Lane writes, the Cowboys' first team showed Saturday they were ready for the games that count:

Quarterback Tony Romo completed five passes on eight attempts for 88 yards and two touchdowns to earn a 139.6 passer rating. Second-round defensive end Randy Gregory got his third preseason sack with the first-teamers, and cornerback Brandon Carr intercepted a Shaun Hill pass. The first team left the game with a 14-10 lead.

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Darren McFadden shines, special teams falters again for Dallas Cowboys - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

Toddzilla offers three highs and three lows from the game. Curiously, two of the players spent much of camp lining up against each other. Here's the high:

DeMarcus Lawrence -- Randy Gregory was credited with his third sack in as many preseason games but after further review it might got to Lawrence, who was able to drop Teddy Bridgewater on a key third-down play to force the Vikings to kick a field goal. Lawrence later drew a holding penalty. He was active.

And here's the low:

Doug Free -- His start to training camp was slowed because of soreness in his surgically-repaired foot. He had two penalties in the first half Saturday, however, one was declined.

Cowboys LB Sean Lee makes debut and does it on the weak side: ‘Two weeks from now I’ll be ready to go’ - Michael Florek, DMN

Its been six hundred 28 days, Florek notes, since Sean Lee played an NFL snap. On Saturday night, he played 20 of them. Still, that's not enough (like any amount of work ever is for Lee):

"At times, a little bit rusty," Lee said of his performance. "I think as I got into the flow of the game I got better and better, but I only played 15 to 20 plays. It’s about playing 60, 70 plays, being able to do that effectively. "Two weeks from now I’ll be ready to go. I still have a lot of work to do. I still have room to improve. I still have to get better conditioning wise but I think I’m on track to be ready."

Claiborne, Sean Lee Among Players Reviewed in Writers’ Players to Watch - The Mothership

The dudes over at The Mothership review their pre-game pet cats. Tiny Jim gets to crow about both Darren McFadden and Mo Claiborne. A taste:

Darren McFadden: We still aren’t talking about a huge sample size, but Darren McFadden might have been the most fun aspect of the entire game. He got a measly four carries on the night, but he ripped off 37 yards – an average of 9.2 yards per carry. It wasn’t just that he gained yards, though. He ran with decisiveness and authority. He got to the second level and came within a broken tackle or two of breaking some seriously long runs. Again, it’s a tiny sample size. But McFadden looked like the guy the Cowboys were hoping for when they signed him in March.

Cowboys’ special teams anything but so far; Vikings’ Patterson adds to frustration - Rainer Sabin, DMN

As Sabin notes, Rich Bisaccia has had to endure a punt block resulting in a touchdown, a missed field goal, a fumbled return, and repeated breakdowns in coverage thus far this preseason. On Saturday night, he was able to add a 107-yard kickoff return to this list of woes. As might be expected, his boss doesn't like seeing such things:

"It was disappointing," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "Obviously their guy [Cordarrelle Patterson] is one of the best in the league, but you can never give up kickoff returns for touchdowns in this league and expect to be successful. We’ll get a chance to look at it tomorrow and see what the issue was. We have to do a better job in that area."

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Dez Bryant sits out third straight preseason game - Rainer Sabin, DMN

If you recall, Landon McCool and I had Bryant ranked as the team's second-best player - and Zack Martin as the third. Neither played versus the Vikes. Hmmm...could be one of the reasons the offense struggled a bit?

Cowboys VP Jones says Bryant is ready to go - Mark Lane, FOX Sports Southwest

Jones the Younger tells us not to worry about Number 88; the Cowboys are just trying to protect him from himself - because the dude simply plays too hard, even in low-stakes preseason games:

"I think that we verbalized that we had some concerns about Dez getting right out there and going to work in a very competitive situation because he only knows one speed and that's 110 percent. So, for us to have that two to three weeks to really get him to go, that we think has ended up being a blessing in disguise."

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Time for a Tweetbreak!

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Some goodness from Bob Sturm's weekly Q&A over at The Dallas Morning News:

Why Cowboys are able to manage odd relationship with Dez - Bob Sturm, DMN

Here, he's asked which assistant coaches on the Cowboys staff might be future head coaches:

Always an interesting question – especially given the former head coaches on the staff at each coordinator spot. Beyond that, you just never know. I never imagined Les Miles, the TE coach was ever going to be Les Miles the LSU coach. Guys get chances to show what they can do as they head up the ladder. Matt Eberflus, Jerome Henderson, Frank Pollack all come to mind as being on that path, but those are pure wild guesses. I am not positive Jason Garrett seemed like a head coach until he was one.

Why I think 2016 is year Cowboys draft Romo’s successor - Bob Sturm, DMN

Here, the Sturminator responds to a query about Chaz Green's roster status, and makes a relevant comparison to another rookie OL draftee:

Green remains a PUP guy to start the season and it sure seems that the team would not have taken him if they knew Collins was an option. As it stands, it sure looks like what might be the equivalent of a medical redshirt for Green. I think it is interesting to compare TJ Clemmings to Chaz Green from that day. The Cowboys liked Clemmings more, but passed on TJ to take Green in Round 3 because they were worried about TJ’s longterm health. Now, Clemmings will start at RT for Minnesota (the Vikes took him in Rd 4) because of Phil Loadholt’s injury and Green has yet to take a snap.

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And, finally, we still have some documents labeled "Oxnard" in our inbox:

Top 20 Dallas Cowboys training camp observations - Jon Machota, DMN

The ever-improving Machota (he reminds me of a young Todd Archer; both are diligent, productive, and observant reporters) serves up a really excellent set of 20 observations from his time in Oxnard. Hit the link and read them all; here's a small sampling:

9.) With the position flex the Cowboys have in the middle of the offensive line, they could go thinner up front when they trim the roster. Martin and Mackenzy Bernadeau can play center or either of the guard spots. La’el Collins can play either guard spot and tackle if it was absolutely needed. Heck, if Free was to go down, Martin could move to right tackle and probably hold up very well.

13.) I don’t think Cole Beasley has come close to reaching his potential. He had as good of camp as anyone. If the running game struggles, look for a lot of underneath stuff to the QB-friendly receiver.

20.) Get ready to see a lot of Damien Wilson. He’ll be this year’s version of Anthony Hitchens, a fourth-round LB that left some scratching their heads when he was drafted. But during camp, all he did is move up the depth chart. By the end, he was routinely working with the ones. Matt Eberflus loves a versatile backer. Wilson seems to fit the bill.

Enjoy, and go Cowboys!

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