The focus during the preseason is usually centered on the young guys trying to make the team, as it should be. The preseason stories have been dominated by Cooper Rush’s emergence, Jaylon Smith’s debut, the Lewis Neal’s and the Taco Charlton’s.
However, there are some veteran guys that have looked quite impressive in limited exposure. Some of them have stood above the rest looking primed for a heck of a season. Let’s throw a little love to these guys.
You could make a case that Butler deserves a preseason MVP award. He’s really raised his level of play this offseason. The crew on Talkin’ Cowboys spoke about how Butler really wanted to just focus on football this year, putting aside some passions like DJ-ing and fashion shows. Butler has been outstanding in the preseason. You look at this spider graph of Butler’s athletic potential versus the field since 2000:
Someone asked me for Brice Butler's spider graph relative to other prospects after I shared his pro day numbers. Here it is: pic.twitter.com/EYWNya5zxC— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) August 17, 2017
That’s why folks want to see Butler reach his potential, he incredibly athletic but he’s also the guy that needs to focus. So far, he’s done just that showing that his combination of skills can be backbreaking for a defense. He hasn’t had any receiving touchdowns this preseason but he’s bailed out his quarterbacks when called upon. Butler has played in two games, he’s got four receptions, 109 receiving yards, averaging 27.2 yards per reception. He’s shown the ability to dominate, let’s hope he brings that same effort in the regular season against better competition.
With all the moves made in the offseason in the secondary, Orlando Scandrick is still the best cornerback on the team. He’s been dinged up over the last couple of seasons but his performances in practice and these exhibition games have been very encouraging. Watch him blow this play up:
Batted ball by @OScandrick32! pic.twitter.com/bAxQU49vQG— ✭Cowboys News✭ (@DemBoyz_News) August 19, 2017
He had that one dead as soon as he lined up to blitz though you wish he would have tracked it better. Scandrick left the game yesterday for “cognitive diagnosis” and never returned. He was pretty angry and threw his helmet but precaution is everything in the preseason. Scandrick has also picked off a few passes in practice, too. He’s looked like his old self as of late and that’s great news for the defense.
It truly hurts that he’ll be suspended for the first two games because he’s been balling since he got to Dallas. He’s been the ultimate teammate and has maximized his opportunities every step of the way. This preseason, Moore has played a fair amount of snaps and he’s looked like an avid subscriber of “Marinelli magic.” He got to the quarterback for the sack in this past game with the Colts.
Moore has bend, speed, power, and awareness but what has impressed most is his ability to show out even when he’s playing with less talent around him. He’s been noticeable in all three preseason games. When he was surrounded by Richard Ash, Joey Ivie, and Jordan Carrell in the first game, he was the only guy really producing a rush.
Moore has stood out in practice too by forcing fumbles and winning some one-on-ones. Whether he’s played stand up linebacker, end, or even reps at tackle, Moore has given the effort. On a team where a pass rush is desperately needed, Moore could easily turn into a candidate to lead this team in sacks for 2017.
Now, Smith is a third-year player but he’s had more playing time in this preseason than he’s ever had before. Smith was a fullback last season before he dropped some weight and has been toting the rock regularly this year. On a team that has three running backs who have reached 1,000 rushing yards in this league, it’s hard to get noticed. Rod Smith has performed well enough to intrude on the argument of who should carry the ball in Ezekiel Elliott’s potential absence.
Against the Colts, Smith got seven carries for 54 yards and 7.6 yards per clip. His best attribute is his power to make something out of nothing. Smith’s a sneaky player because he’s not exactly fast but he’s quick and strong. He’s got surprisingly good elusiveness for a guy who runs kind of upright. Check this run out that should be a loss:
This was a great run by Rod Smith. That's no gain for a lot of runners in this league, and Smith turns it into 7. pic.twitter.com/h2BnxfFmuV— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) August 20, 2017
Smith just looks like a guy that has great vision to get every inch out each run. He’ll go through you if he has to:
@thejaylonsmith #45 Rod Smith is a man running possessed #54 @thejaylonsmith brother #DALvsIND pic.twitter.com/LZ095sLNT0— Dre'Lin Jackson (@drelinas1) August 20, 2017
It’s not clear what his role will be but he’s earned the right to be considered for a big push. He’s been the all around best running back during these preseason games. Some folks are not shy about sharing their true feelings:
I'll say this again... Tell me I can't give the ball to Rod Smith 18x against NYG?— Joey Ickes (@JoeyIckes) August 20, 2017
Yep, we’ll take the easy answer here but why not? All this talk all offseason long about an incoming slump for the reigning Rookie of the Year seemed a bit silly after his appearance against Indianapolis. Starting at his own five-yard line, Prescott made it look easy. A 23-yarder to Dez Bryant, Darren McFadden for five, a seven-yarder to Jason Witten, McFadden for six, back to Witten for 17, McFadden for five, and BOOM:
Yeah they still have it....Dak Prescott to Dez Bryant for a 32 Yard TD. #ThrowUpTheX ♂️#CowboysNation ✭ pic.twitter.com/EsbfJwDzaC— Dylan (@DylansFreshTake) August 19, 2017
Dak drove the team 95 yards in seven plays and three and a half minutes. On his second and final drive, Dak made it all the way to the Indianapolis-15 before McFadden coughed it up. What’s more impressive is that in two drives, Prescott leads the team through 16 plays before they ever faced a third down. On that play, no big deal, just a 10-yard pass to Cole Beasley.
Dak Prescott was seven for eight for 106 yards and a touchdown, if not for McFadden’s fumble, I’d bet the house there would be a second touchdown there. He walked away clean with a perfect passer rating.
Dak Prescott was nearly flawless tonight. Total command of the offense. If you think he was a one-year wonder, you are insane.— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) August 20, 2017
In multiple chats with radio shows all over the country, they always ask us writers the same questions about a “sophomore slump”. Here’s the answer that was given each time: Asking Dak Prescott to slump is asking him to make tons of mistakes. He’s just not that type of quarterback, he protects the ball as well as you can. Prescott will take calculated risks but he won’t take silly ones.
He’s surrounded by one of the most complete offenses in the league. He may not have the same numbers as last year but he’s already improved this offseason. Prescott is far from a one-year wonder, he’s a franchise quarterback in every sense of the word.
Who are some other veterans out there that have impressed the masses here at BTB? Let us know in the comments.