The first preseason game for the 2017 Dallas Cowboys is in the books. Where did the Cowboys do well, and where did they have issues. Let’s find out.
Rico Gathers - As we noted previously, Gathers had his first big game as a Cowboy. Three catches and a touchdown while playing much of the game. Sure, it’s just one preseason game against backups, but the potential that has been talked about for so long started to break the surface. The only question now, can he sustain it, then build on it going forward.
Brice Butler - Butler has had a great camp by all reports, and he carried that into this game. He hauled in two long passes, one was a diving, acrobatic catch. He’s solidifying his hold on a roster spot.
Alfred Morris - He was only in for a brief time, but he looked really good in that time. Seven carries for 42 yards. Whether the Cowboys intend to keep him or try and trade him is unknown. But for one series, Morris was killing it. We would put him in the winners column just for this one move:
Rod Smith - Another player who has had a great camp, Smith continued his good work on Thursday night. His average per carry (3.6 yards) won’t overwhelm you, but he was running hard, showed good feet, had patience when needed - in short, he looked like a quality running back. He even caught three passes. A very nice effort for a guy trying to carve out a spot on the roster.
Secondary - Blaine Gabbert absolutely carved up the Cowboys coverage on the first couple of drives in the game. Gabbert ended up with a rating of 118.8 on the night, and completed 11 of 14 passes for a 13.2 average. The Cowboys only had one pass break up the whole evening. The Cowboys even had Byron Jones and Jeff Heath out there for part of that time. That has to improve.
Pass Rush (defensive line) - A lot of the focus was on Taco Charlton and the fact he didn’t make any splash plays, but the defensive line in general was a bust. Gabbert had too much time to survey the field, and the Cowboys two sacks on the night were from a linebacker and a cornerback. Charlton needs to be better, but he only played a limited time. The whole defensive line was suspect; no one really stood out among the guys who are truly fighting for playing time or a roster spot.
Anthony Brown - This has nothing to do with his on-field play. That was mixed - he gave up a big pass play, but he also got a sack. But whenever you get injured in a preseason game, that’s a loss. Luckily, it doesn’t appear to be serious, but hamstrings are tricky things. They can linger.