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Cowboys News: Dak Prescott efficient vs Bengals; Dr. Jerry Jones says Zack Martin injury “not problematic”; more

How much can you take away from a game without Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley, Travis Frederick, and Tavon Austin? A lot, apparently.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Prescott efficient for Cowboys; Dalton stalls for Bengals - John Kelly, Associated Press
This is the article that will be syndicated across the majority of media outlets across the country.

Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys had another efficient preseason showing. Andy Dalton bogged down a bit with his Cincinnati Bengals.

Prescott led a pair of scoring drives in three possessions, capped by a scrambling 6-yard scoring pass to Terrance Williams, before the Bengals rallied after halftime for a 21-13 exhibition victory Saturday night.

The Bengals had just two first downs in three Dalton-led possessions a week after he threw for two touchdowns with an offense that was revamped after finishing last in the NFL.

What we learned from Saturday's preseason games - Marc Sessler,
Here's what Sessler took away from the game.

Good luck drawing definitive conclusions about this Cowboys offense without star back Ezekiel Elliott. Dak Prescott made noise, though, generating 10 points off four drives and making good use of backup runner Rod Smith, who totaled 68 yards off 14 touches. Prescott was lucky to have a contested ball down the sideline flip off the hands of Dre Kirkpatrick instead of watching the Bengals cover man take it to the house. Still, the third-year signal-caller moved the sticks with his arms and produced 86 yards through the air.

Bengals lost the battles up front. There's plenty to like about Cincy's Geno Atkins-led front seven, with longtime Bengals pass-rusher Carlos Dunlap telling the club's broadcast crew "this is the best defensive line we've had since I've been here." On Saturday, though, the unit lost too many battles up front.

Three and outs: The Bengals attack, meanwhile, endured problems of their own against the Dallas defense. Andy Dalton dialed up a trio of three-and-outs to open the game as the Cowboys rifled off 29 plays before the Bengals snapped their seventh.

Analysis: Bengals starters a 'tick off' vs. Cowboys - Staff, Cincinnati Enquirer
The Enquirer contrasts the first-team performances.

The [Bengals] first-team offense couldn’t move the ball and would not have converted a single third down if not for Andy Dalton deciding to scramble for one in the second quarter. The right side of the offensive line struggled, and the entire group couldn’t get much push in the run game.

On the other side of the ball, the Bengals’ starting defense wasn’t porous, but it wasn’t impactful. Even without Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield, starting quarterback Dak Prescott managed to run 30 plays in three possessions. An old enemy for this defense – third down – re-emerged. With Prescott, the Cowboys went 5-for-7, including a six-yard touchdown toss from Prescott to Terrance Williams.

Key numbers

1: Third down converted by the Bengals in the first half, which came on an Andy Dalton scramble on 3rd-and-5.

3:32: Time of possession for the Bengals in the first quarter, as the first team offense ran six plays for 10 net yards.

20: First half rushing yards by the Bengals, on seven carries (2.9 yards per attempt).

Super Subs lift Bengals over Dallas, 21-13 - Geoff Hobson,
The Bengals mothership takes some delight in the second-team performance, but also reflects on the tough night the Bengals' O-line had.

The Bengals suffered their first two three-and-outs of the season on the first two series when they couldn’t get anything on the ground and quarterback Andy Dalton had to go with a play-action roll-out pass for 23 yards to tight end C.J. Uzomah to start the third drive.

But the Bengals had trouble giving Dalton time. He was five of seven for just 41 yards and never seemed comfortable in the pocket.

It was a tough night for the Bengals’ first offensive line, capped off by a grim sequence at the end of the half when running back Giovani Bernard got two yards up the middle and Ogbuehi was called for a false start.

What loss to Bengals revealed about NFL's methodical man Dak Prescott and Cowboys' offense - Tim Cowlishaw, SportsDay
"Method Man" Prescott? You be the judge of that.

Dak Prescott, the NFL's methodical man, was at it again Saturday night in the Cowboys' preseason home opener. Take away Dez Bryant, and take away Jason Witten, and Dak still looks a lot like Dak.

Prescott completed passes to five different wide receivers and tight ends with 10 of those 14 throws aimed at new receivers. We're counting Jarwin as new here since he was a practice squad player except for one game in 2017 and had no pass receptions.

Dak's dinks and dunks along with the occasional burst from Zeke will set up the opportunities for those lightning strikes. But for one pre-season night, all the lightning was outside the stadium. Inside there was an absence of flash but just enough of Dak's steady drumbeat to keep the chains moving and maintain the feeling this new offense could look a lot like the old one.

Is this the most talented defense Rod Marinelli has had with the Cowboys? Here's why there's 'no question' - David Moore, SportsDay
Gotta feel good about that first-team defense.

This loss had nothing to do with the starting defense, which helped stake the Cowboys to a 10-0 second quarter lead before many of the key figures began to retire to the sidelines for the evening.

The Cowboys defense looks good. Very good. This goes beyond what the group has shown in training camp and the first two preseason games. This defense is young, fast and physical.

Rod Marinelli enters his sixth season with the Cowboys. A few days ago the defensive coordinator was asked if he considers this the most talented and deepest group he's had in the front seven during his time with the club.

"I do,''Marinelli said. "There's no question. We're deep and we've added some guys from other teams who are not really old. I like the tempo, I like the character. I say it all the time, it's still a blue collar game. Bring the people in who really want to get after it. You can go a long way with that.''

10 thoughts on the Cowboys 21-13 loss to the Bengals - DannyPhantom, Blogging The Boys
Here are three of the 10 things that caught Phantom's attention.

Rod Smith shows a lot of patience: The Cowboys backup running back didn’t fill the stat sheet with impressive numbers as he only had 49 yards on 13 carries, but he did a good job waiting for the play to develop. There were a handful of instances where he showed great patience and waited for his blocks to open up the running lanes.

Darius Jackson looked pretty darn good: While it’s unclear the extent of Scarbrough’s injury, anything that lingers could open the door for the Cowboys to keep Darius Jackson. With plenty of touches in the second half, Jackson would finish with six carries for 42 yards (7.0 average) and added another four catches for 22 yards receiving. He was essentially the only offense the reserves had on the day.

Defensive backs depth looked terrible: It was an all-around terrible game for almost all the reserve defensive backs. Kris Richard cannot be happy with what he is seeing right now because we sure aren’t.

Scout’s Notebook: Taco, Terrance & More - Bryan Broaddus,
Broaddus offers up 12 observations from the game. Here are three of them.

First teams: In my postgame comments with Brad Sham, I mentioned for the second consecutive week that the Cowboys’ first units, both on offense and defense, were clearly better than their opponents - which is the most important. The offense continues to move the ball with balance even though Ezekiel Elliott has been out of the lineup. Defensively, they’ve done a nice job of finishing plays by getting bodies to the ball and tackling well.

Taco Charlton needed a big game and he pulled it off. His get off, pad level and technique were outstanding. He played football with a plan and that hasn’t always been the case. Hopefully going forward he can sit down, study this game and build on it. They need him to play like this each week and leave those previous inconsistencies out his game.

Randy Gregory: Like Carl Lewis can roll out of bed and run fast, Randy Gregory can roll out of bed and rush the passer. It is natural for him to do that. There were a couple of snaps where I felt like he was really close to getting Andy Dalton. As a matter of fact, I recall a moment where Gregory was walking to the sideline and he had this look on his face like he missed an opportunity. His time on the field gave me some hope.

Cowboys vs. Bengals: Five winners and five losers from the second preseason game - RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys
We saw some good stuff from the Cowboys last night, but we also saw some stuff nobody liked. Here are three of the five losers from Ochoa's take on the Bengals game.

Loser: Chaz Green and his spot on the 53-man roster. You don’t have to be mean to Chaz Green in order to say he has played poorly. Of all the things that happened for the Cowboys on Saturday night very few are as universally agreed upon as Chaz Green’s poor performance. We’re officially at a point where we know he’s not going to make the 53-man roster.

Loser: Mike White and the idea of three quarterbacks on the team. Dallas has done a banner job with rookie quarterbacks over the last two years in Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush, but Mike White isn’t experiencing anywhere near the same levels of success. White played quite poorly against the Bengals, so much so that people are ready to put him on the practice squad.

Loser: The idea of a viable swing tackle in general. Chaz Green once served as this team’s swing tackle, but that was a long time ago and we just went over how he isn’t at all reliable anymore. Cameron Fleming was really struggling against the Bengals and cast the idea of a swing tackle legitimately backing up Tyron Smith into serious doubt. Hopefully it was an aberration of sorts, but it’s concerning.

Don’t Forget These 5: RB Battle & Rico’s Rebound - Nick Eatman,
Among other things, Eatman reflects on the first-team offense and the running back depth.

Third RB Debate: There wasn’t much of a race for the third running back spot after last week. It seems like it was Bo Scarbrough’s job to lose, and maybe that’s still the case. But with the rookie from Alabama suffering a hip injury, one that will be evaluated further on Sunday, it opened the door for a guy like Darius Jackson. The backup tailback, who is making his second stint with the Cowboys, shined bright on Saturday, rushing for 42 yards on six attempts. He also caught four passes for 22 yards, totaling 64 yards of offense in the second half. The Cowboys already cut Jackson once and it might be tough to do that a second time.

Three-and-Down: The first three offensive series, led by Dak Prescott, were very productive for the Cowboys. The offense totaled 135 yards and scored 10 points. From there, it went sour in a hurry. The backups couldn’t move the ball at all for six straight series, resulting in just 22 yards. After that, Darius Jackson gave the offense a little bit of a spark, but overall, the Cowboys had 262 offensive yards. More than half of that occurred in the brief time Prescott and the starting O-line was in the game.

Taco Charlton continues to impress by racking up big plays for Cowboys defense; ‘I feel like I can make any play’ - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Charlton is brimming with confidence.

Charlton made several nice plays Saturday in roughly three quarters of play. He forced a fumble after chasing down Bengals starting wide receiver Tyler Boyd. He then sacked backup quarterback Jeff Driskel for a 9-yard loss early in the third quarter. Later in the third he stopped running back Tra Carson at the line of scrimmage for no gain.

”Today was a solid day,” Charlton said. “I could have had a couple more sacks out there. I was real close, so I’m not happy all the way.”

He’s expected to get a significant amount of snaps this season playing behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford in Rod Marinelli’s defensive line rotation.

“Taco is much, much improved,” Cowboys vice president of player personnel Will McClay said last week. “He’s matured mentally and physically. He’s so much stronger now. He’s working to finish. He’s bought into the Marinelli way of doing things and understanding that it helps. The push he’s getting from Tyrone Crawford and from D-Law is helping him grow too.”

Source: Cowboys OG Martin hyperextends knee - Todd Arcer, ESPN
Zack Martin suffered a hyperextended left knee and will undergo an MRI today to confirm.

Coach Jason Garrett said the team’s medical staff was “somewhat optimistic based on the initial observation.”

Zack Martin will undergo MRI, but Jerry Jones feels good about initial diagnosis – Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk
There'll be a lot concern trolling until the MRI results are in, but Dr. Jerry Jones already knows what's what.

“I’m not thinking that Zack is problematic here,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said afterward.

Martin will undergo an MRI on Sunday, but the initial examination does not have Jones worried.

“I just want to say we’ve got more to gain from [the MRI], but from what we’ve seen, I’ll sleep good tonight on Martin,” Jones said.

Long time coming: Cowboys DE Randy Gregory plays 10 snaps - Stefan Stevenson, Star-Telegram
Garrett liked what he saw from Gregory.

“He looked quick and explosive. He looked like himself. He is a really natural pass rusher with a lot of skills,” Garrett said. “Hopefully this will be a stepping stone for more action in the future.”

Gregory played 10 snaps in Saturday’s preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

“It feels real good,” said Gregory, who was reinstated by the NFL in July after a yearlong suspension for repeated substance abuse. He found out Friday night that he would get some snaps. “I don’t know how to explain it. I haven’t played in an actual game in close to two years. Practice is one thing, but to actually get on the field with guys felt good.”

Gregory hopes to play more next week against the Cardinals.

“I definitely want to kick it up a notch, get the adrenaline going and go out there and make some plays,” he said. “The main goal was to go have fun, get the playbook down and not have any mental errors. I was able to accomplish that.”

Cowboys Hope an Improved Defense and a Relentless Rushing Attack Key Strong Season - Robert Klemko,
Klemko writes about how the new-look Cowboys the defense complements the offense in Dallas.

Do the Cowboys have a true WR1 on the roster, with Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams and Tavon Austin in the running? Probably not. Do they need one? Nope. Not if Ezekiel Elliott is healthy and available. In Oxnard I saw what I expected to see from the first-team offense—a quarterback doing his best with a very average group of receivers and an outstanding running back.

You can win that way, but you have to have defense, and that's what's new in Dallas.

In Oxnard [Jaylon Smith has] looked more like the player who likely would have been the top linebacker chosen in the 2016 NFL draft if not for the injury in the Fiesta Bowl. It's August, and people in Oxnard were talking about him as a comeback player of the year candidate. He's that good.

Gregory in camp looked competitive with one of the best offensive lines in the game, and got the better of two-time all pro Tyron Smith on a handful of occasions.

Additionally, Byron Jones transition from safety to corner looks like a smooth one, and he may surprise in a position that looks way more natural for the 2015 first-round pick.

Put it all together, and this Cowboys' defense looks like the perfect storm, and the perfect complement to a potent, clock-killing running game.

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