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Cowboys news: Cowboys reserves fall late to 49ers 24-21 but Dak Prescott looked sharp

The Cowboys first and second teams took care of business but the reserves failed them late in 24-21 preseason loss.

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott quickly answers doubters in the preseason opener - Clarence Hill, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Prescott calmly delivered a quick scoring drive in preseason debut.

Prescott promptly drove the Cowboys 75 yards on 10 plays, completing 3 of 3 passes, including a 30-yard touchdown strike to rookie third-round pick Michael Gallup.

“That first drive was good for us,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Dak did a great job on the run to keep the drive alive, and we got the one-on-one on the outside and made a good throw and catch.”

After struggling throughout training camp with the deep ball, Prescott again proved to be his best when the lights are on during games.

Gallup ran a good route, freezing cornerback Jimmy Ward, Prescott hit him with a perfect throw down the right sideline, allowing him to walk into the end zone.

Dak Prescott throws for TD before 49ers rally past Cowboys 24-21 - Staff, ESPN
The Cowboys first team looked crisp but in the end, the backups need much more work.

Dak Prescott made the most of his brief appearance in the preseason opener for Dallas by throwing a 30-yard touchdown pass to rookie Michael Gallup before the San Francisco 49ers rallied with two late touchdowns to beat the Cowboys 24-21 Thursday night.

Prescott sat out the first exhibition game last season but got one series of action against the 49ers this year and looked sharp. He completed all three of pass attempts and converted a third-and-9 with a 12-yard scramble.

He capped his night with the deep ball to Gallup, who beat Jimmie Ward down the sideline. Ward got the start at cornerback in place of Richard Sherman, who is nursing a hamstring injury.

Dak Prescott Opens The Preseason In Style - David Helman,
Of course Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott strutted out on the field and led a quick strike scoring debut.

Prescott completed all three of his passes for 39 yards, capped off by a 30-yard strike to rookie receiver Michael Gallup, who beat one-on-one coverage for a game-opening touchdown.

“It was good to get out there, get our feet moving and to get on the same page,” Prescott said. “We were able to get the ball to Michael Gallup on that touchdown -- who did a great job on that ‘go ball.’”

Ironically, Prescott had taken criticism through the first two weeks of training camp for his inconsistency throwing downfield. With the lights on against the 49ers, though, he had no problems at all.

What Cowboys' surprise opening drive taught us about state of offense -Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay
The Cowboys offense went about their business tonight as the first team quickly put the ball in the air and into the end zone.

Garrett and other club officials have grudgingly acknowledged the erratic nature of the offense in recent days, with one proviso: don’t rush to judgment. The benefits of Elliott and a punishing ground game aren’t evident in camp because players aren’t tackled. That allows the corners to play up on the receivers more than they would in a real game where they would have to worry about getting Elliott to the ground.

Rod Smith was in the role of Elliott against the 49ers.

The principle held.

One series in the preseason opener won’t set the offensive tone for the remainder of the season. But it can be argued the Cowboys offense gained more confidence with that 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive than they have in the last week of camp.

Dallas drops game to SF 24-21, but sees a lot more good than bad from its players - Tom Ryle, Blogging The Boys
As preseason games go, this one went well for the Cowboys despite the score.

The first half was not just a win on the scoreboard, but looked to be a better showing by the Cowboys. An overall impression from it was that there were some bad plays by some players, but all facets of the game looked very good. Even with mostly backups, things didn’t look at all bad for the first preseason game, which often devolve into displays of ineptitude.

But Dallas’ players were flying all over the place, especially on defense. And the dropoff from the ones to the twos was not significant, even taking into account that they were also mostly going up against the backups for San Francisco. In particular, the linebacker play seemed consistent, whether it was Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Joe Thomas, Damien Wilson, or Justin March-Lilliard. It does not look like the team is as susceptible to an injury to Sean Lee as it was last season.

10 takeaways from the Dallas Cowboys first preseason game in San Francisco - RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys
Ochoa offers up some very interesting learnings from from yesterday's game, including these three:

Jaylon Smith might be really good: It’s one preseason game and not even a whole contest for him, but Jaylon Smith honestly looked incredible in the limited action we saw him in on Thursday. Jaylon’s movement has been heralded by various Cowboys staffers over the offseason, the brace-less life must really be a good one.

Jaylon flew around the 49ers offense early and often. He wasn’t the only Cowboys defender to play well, and he wasn’t even the only linebacker.

Dorance Armstrong looked great yet again: Perhaps the MVP of training camp so far has been rookie pass rusher Dorance Armstrong. Armstrong came out in San Francisco and cemented the fact that he’s changing jersey numbers because he’s making the 53-man roster and there’s no way he’s doing it as #74. He only had two tackles but was creating pressure and disruption.

Dorance is a welcome find for the Cowboys along the defensive line, and the fact that he keeps impressing is extremely positive. He’s now doing it against the Cowboys offensive line and against other NFL competition. That’s impressive stuff.

Turnovers might actually be a thing this season: It was just one preseason game, but the Cowboys forced a hat trick of turnovers. Joe Thomas and Duke Thomas each had interceptions while Charles Tapper recovered a fumble.

Part of what’s helped the Cowboys teams that have had success in recent history has been that their offense limited how often the defense had to be on the field and that the defense got a little lucky with turnovers. If the offense is grooving like we saw and if the defense is giving the ball back to them, things could be awfully neat.

5 thoughts on Cowboys' preseason loss to 49ers, including a rookie who could contribute immediately on Sundays - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Machota's game summary includes thoughts on the linebacker corps and Bo Scarbrough.

Linebackers: The Cowboys front office is extremely pleased with what they have at linebacker. They feel it's the best group they've put together in a while. Jaylon Smith looked good Thursday night, moving around well in his limited reps. Joe Thomas, who was signed after Kyle Wilber joined the Raiders, had a good game to go along with his strong camp. Since Sean Lee has been getting extra time off this year, Thomas has often worked with the first-team defense at weakside linebacker.

Justin March-Lillard and Damien Wilson made some nice plays as well. First round pick Leighton Vander Esch didn't have any big plays but his athleticism was evident on several occasions. He needs as much of this valuable preseason work as he can get.

Bo Scarbrough: The former Alabama standout carried over from what we've seen in Oxnard. When given the opportunity, Scarbrough has impressed, whether it's as a runner or a pass-catcher. He broke a tackle on a highlight 28-yard run late in the first half. He then scored one a one-yard run that gave Dallas a 14-0 lead. Most of the seventh-round pick's carries have come with the third team offense.

Scarbrough got a chance to run with the first-team during goal-line drills and looked just as good as he has with the backups. I'd be surprised if he didn't makes the roster as the Cowboys' No. 3 back behind Ezekiel Elliott and Rod Smith. I believe he'll be able to contribute immediately during the regular season if called upon.

ReFocused, NFL Preseason Week 1: San Francisco 49ers 24, Dallas Cowboys 21 - Staff, Pro Football Focus
Positives and negatives from last night:

The individual efforts of some of Dallas’ pass rushers were impressive in this game, highlighted by Taco Charlton’s vicious spin move on Andrew Lauderdale in the second quarter that would have done some real damage to C.J. Beathard had he not gotten the ball out quickly. DeMarcus Lawrence also showed some of his explosiveness early in the first quarter before resting up, reminding everyone of how dominant he was a season ago.

CB Donovan Olumba found himself getting thrown at quite a bit, and the Niners had success doing it. Particularly late when they were driving to take the lead. Olumba committed multiple pass interferences on the final drive, including one that set them up inside the 10-yard line.

Dallas was unable to put the game away late, largely due to their inability to generate much of a ground attack. If you take away Prescott’s 12-yard scramble, they ended with only 93 yards on 28 attempts. It was apparent the second and third team offensive line was having a tough time opening up running lanes.

Cowboys will be in playoff contention if their defense improves in this key area - Newy Scruggs, SportsDay
Newy Scruggs doesn't know if the Cowboys defense is good enough to be a Top-10 unit but he assures a postseason berth if Dallas can improve in one key defensive area.

Scruggs: ”I don’t know if the Cowboys can be a top-10 defense. They have so many question marks. The stat I am more interested in is can the Cowboys be in the top 10 in the category of takeaways? Seven of the top 11 teams in takeaways made the playoffs. Philly was fourth in the NFL in takeaways. They won the Super Bowl.

”Dallas had 10 interceptions and got 11 fumbles. If they can increase that...they will be in playoff contention.”

Cowboys training camp 2018: Injuries at six-year low after two weeks of camp - One.Cool.Customer-Blogging The Boys
We compare this year’s injury report versus those of the previous five years - with surprising results.

The league doesn’t require teams to release injury reports during training camp, so we can’t compare the Cowboys numbers to those of other teams. But if we look at how many injured players the Cowboys had after the Blue/White scrimmage in each of the past years, we’ll get a pretty good idea of how the injury rates compare.

What we know is that the Cowboys six players on their injury report at this stage of training camp last year. In 2016, they had 15 players on their injury report, 16 players in 2015, 18 players in 2014, and 14 players on their injury report at this time in 2013.

This year, the number on the injury report is also at seven, excluding players taking a veteran day off, but including Randy Gregory (who is not injured but working on his conditioning), David Irving (who is in rehab), and Cedric Wilson (out for the season). Effectively, that’s five players out with injuries.

Why WRs coach Sanjay Lal says this Cowboys receiver has made the most strides at camp - Staff, SportsDay
Wide Receivers Coach Sanjay Lal joined 105.3 The Fan and singled out the one Cowboys receiver that has improved the most.

Sanjay Lal: “I’m going to single out Lance [Lenoir] because Lance has not only changed his route-running style -- he was more of a beat-the-drum, you know, at the top of the route he would pump his arms and to me, that’s kind of a dead giveaway you’re breaking. He’s changed that, he’s opened his stride length, that was big. He was somewhat of a short strider, especially on shorter routes. Now he’s opening up his stride so, I have no problem with singling him out because he works harder than most, too.”

RJ has a game recap.

Former Cowboys WR Dez Bryant to visit Cleveland Browns after dodging phone calls -Peter Dawson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Dez Bryant wants to play football and finally set up a meeting with the Browns after not answering John Dorsey’s phone call.

On Thursday evening before the Cowboys game against the 49ers, Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey told Mary Kay Cabot of that he’s called Bryant to come in for a visit with his team next week.

However, according to Dorsey, “[Bryant] won’t return any phone calls.”

Within minutes, Bryant produced this response on Twitter.

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