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Cowboys vs. Giants rookie report: Leighton Vander Esch shows promise in limited snaps

The rooks looked much better in week two.

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys came away with all the all important first win of the season on Sunday Night Football against the New York Giants. The offense looked smoother than in the opening contest against the Panthers and the defense continues to ball.

Today, we will look at how the rookies performed in the much-needed win. Last week, they — along with the majority of the team, especially the offensive side — underwhelmed. This week, however, the rooks who saw snaps made the most of their opportunities on a prime time stage.

Let’s dive right in...

Leighton Vander Esch

With Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee anchoring the linebackers, and with Damien Wilson also balling on Sunday, there haven’t been a ton of snaps for the 19th overall selection through just two regular season games.

However, LVE made those snaps count in a big divisional game.

Playing just 28 defensive snaps on SNF, LVE recorded seven total tackles — all of which were solo.

The first-round pick out of Boise State looked comfortable in his second professional game and was really one of the few to wrap up Saquon Barkley in space. Solid performance for the rook in week two.

Connor Williams

There was a lot of excitement surrounding the Cowboys’ second choice in April’s draft. While there still should be a lot of hope for the Texas Longhorns product, it is clear that Williams still has a lot of room to develop — which is not necessarily a bad thing.

After being thrown against the Panthers’ talented front seven and interior defensive line in week one, Williams was tasked with blocking the talented Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson to protect Dak Prescott and open up running lanes for Ezekiel Elliott. Williams showed signs of improvement from game one to game two.

In week two, Williams did not give up a single pressure in the victory over the Giants, a definite improvement from the opening game. Additionally, Williams had some pretty impressive blocks that allowed Zeke to eat:

That’s obviously good to see. Williams already possesses tons of athleticism. If he can build up his strength, we will see the 50th overall pick grow more and more as we get deeper into the season.

Michael Gallup

There is a lot of hope from fans that Michael Gallup grows into a WR1 for this team. After catching one pass for nine yards while also drawing penalties in week one’s loss, Gallup finished with one grab for five yards in week two’s victory.

Gallup should have finished his second regular-season game with two receptions, even though it was a difficult catch to complete.

Through two weeks, Gallup has played the third most snaps of any receiver on the roster behind Cole Beasley and Allen Hurns. Gallup is far from the only wideout having to adjust to the professional level (he was one of only six rookies to catch a pass in week one), but will he begin to see more targets as the season progresses?

Dorance Armstrong

One of my favorite players of this draft class is the fourth-round EDGE from the Kansas Jayhawks. Armstrong impressed throughout training camp and has earned a spot in the defensive line rotation through two games, making two stops in week one.

Week two, Armstrong did not appear in the stat-sheet, but it was not for a lack of strong play. Behind the likes of DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, and Taco Charlton (as well as Randy Gregory), Armstrong has carved out a nice role. When the Giants drove into Cowboys territory, the former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year blew up the play and caused Barkley to go outside, resulting in a loss of yards.

Armstrong has looked good in his limited opportunities through two weeks and he rounds out a mostly impressive showing by the first-year players for the Cowboys in a critical victory over an NFC East foe.

Which rookie stood out the most to you, BTB?

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