The Dallas Cowboys opened up their 2019 preseason Saturday night against the San Francisco 49ers. Despite being the first preseason game, many starters did appear in the game and played well, albeit for a brief time. The backups on the other hand, were a mixed bag.
Dallas ended up losing the game 17-9, but more importantly their offense was outscored 10-0 in the second half. Overall, it was a fairly sloppy game on both sides, but the Cowboys did have some players shine. Here are three Cowboys whose stock went up on Saturday night.
When the Dallas Cowboys began the 2019 offseason, many believed upgrading the safety position was their greatest need. Names like Taylor Rapp, Juan Thornhill, and Johnathan Abram were linked to the Cowboys around draft time, but the team waited until the 213th pick to select safety Donovan Wilson out of Texas A&M.
At the time, there was speculation that Dallas made a mistake not addressing the safety position earlier in the draft, but so far this preseason Wilson is helping put that narrative to rest. The rookie recorded one of the Cowboys two interceptions Saturday night in his first NFL game.
Wilson has always had a knack for taking the football away. In his time at Texas A&M he recorded eight career interceptions, including five in his sophomore year in 2015. With his outstanding play Saturday night, the former Aggie earned the highest Pro Football Focus position grade out of any safety in Week One of the preseason at 94.5.
94.5 Overall Grade, 29 Defensive Snaps
Wilson saw 29 snaps this week and his lone tackle resulted in a defensive stop. It was his playmaking ability that helped him land here, though, coming away with an interception despite only being on the field for 15 coverage snaps.”
Wilson is currently battling for a roster spot with Darian Thompson, Kavon Frazier, and George Iloka, and if he keeps playing like he did Saturday it is going to be hard to keep him off this team.
When you think of the Dallas Cowboys defense, Chidobe Awuzie is not usually one of the first players that comes to mind. Playing on a defense with so much star power in the form of DeMarcus Lawrence, Byron Jones, Leighton Vander Esch, and Jaylon Smith, Awuzie is usually not in the spotlight.
But with Byron Jones still yet to practice this preseason, Awuize has taken over the role of the Cowboys’ number one cornerback, and has done a great job. In Saturday’s game against the 49ers, Awuize clearly played with lots of confidence and it translated into a couple of good plays.
Overall Awuize had a very solid year in 2018. With Jones playing at all All-Pro level, he was targeted a lot, but still was able to be effective. In 15 games he recorded 71 tackles, 11 pass defenses, and one interception. The one knock on Awuize is he always seems to be in the right place at the right time, but struggles to make a play on the ball. If he can improve his balls skills and create some takeaways this year, Dallas could have two number one quality corners on their roster.
According to the Cowboys the belief is still that Byron Jones will be back ready for Week One of the regular season, but if he is not Awuize will need to step up and fill this role. The third-year man out of Colorado clearly has all the tools to be a lock-down corner, and Dallas may need him to be if Jones if forced to miss time in the regular season.
Backup quarterback Cooper Rush started out hot, completing three of his first five passes and leading Dallas to a field goal on his first drive.
Rush looks really comfortable coming out of those read-option fakes. pic.twitter.com/A0HZjgHlFA— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) August 11, 2019
Rush and the Dallas offense then stalled a bit, but got the ball back for a two-minute drill before the end of the first half. Rush was at his best on this drive, going eight of ten for 60 yards, and once again putting Dallas in position to add a field goal.
Nice poise in the pocket and perfectly thrown ball to Jon'Vea Johnson, who does a nice job keeping his feet in bounds. pic.twitter.com/AtlMo2nC1H— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) August 11, 2019
Overall, Rush had a solid day. He went 16/26 for 142 yards and was responsible for six of the nine points the Cowboys scored. Through his play on the field, Rush put himself in position to be the backup once again this season, but his stock rose even more Saturday based on the play of his competitor.
Mike White was a disaster Saturday night. He went 9 of 20 for 87 yards, took three sacks, and turned the ball over midway through the fourth quarter with Dallas trailing 14-9. The Dallas offense did not score a single point when White was in the game, and the second-year quarterback now has a 69.7 passes rating in five preseason games played.
It’s not like Cooper Rush went out there on Saturday night and lit the world on fire, but compared to Mike White’s performance he looked like Joe Montana. There was debate before Saturday if Dallas would keep three quarterbacks on the roster, but unless White comes out next week and does something spectacular, it look like things are setting up for Cooper Rush to once again be the only backup quarterback on the Dallas roster.