With the preseason winding down, and the regular season right around the corner, a lot of the attention is turned to the young guys. While training camp practices are nice for evaluating the rookie-class, there’s nothing like real life game-action to see how these guys play when the lights come on.
Trysten Hill - DT
After a rather disappointing first game against the 49ers, Trysten Hill bounced back against the Rams and had a nice game. Hill finished with just one tackle, but that tackle was a glimpse of what Hill has to offer from the defensive tackle position. While Hill didn’t stand out in a big way on the stat sheet, he did stand out when reviewing the tape, which is a step in the right direction. Hill still has a long way to go, and expectations should be low in his first year, but showing signs of explosiveness and hand technique improvements will be key to Hill’s success going forward.
Tony Pollard - RB
So far, so good for fourth-round pick Tony Pollard. Throughout two preseason games, Pollard has carried the football just nine times, but has already racked up 58 rushing yards (6.4 YPC) and a touchdown. Pollard showed excellent vision, burst, contact balance, and toughness running between the tackles against the Rams. A lot was made of the sack that was looked at to be poor pass protection from Pollard, but a source later informed me that Pollard was not in the pass protection plans on the sack of Dak Prescott, and once realizing how hot the free rushers were, stayed in to attempt to slow the Rams pass rushers down. Through two games, Pollard has shown big improvements in his rushing abilities from Memphis, and has been extremely impressive in Ezekiel Elliott absence.
Just a beautiful run from Pollard. Shows great vision to see the hole develop, good contact balance to run through the DL arm tackle, & runs with much better center of gravity than he did at Memphis. I wasn't high on Pollard in the draft, but he looks like a different player. pic.twitter.com/1CzX1gGvDO— Connor Livesay (@ConnorNFLDraft) August 18, 2019
Justin Phillips - LB
As an undrafted free agent, your best chances of making a NFL roster in year one is to standout. Rookie linebacker Justin Phillips has done nothing but standout since getting to Dallas after the 2019 NFL Draft. Phillips was a guy that started making some noise in the early stages of the offseason, but it took until preseason games started before fans and media started to take Phillips seriously. Through two games, Phillips leads the teams in tackles (12), and is tied for the team lead in interceptions after his acrobatic interception against the Rams. Phillips has shown the ability to defend both the run and the pass, and has so far given the Cowboys coaching staff plenty to think about when cutting down the roster to 53.
Jon’Vea Johnson - WR
In the Cowboys first two preseason games, Jon’Vea Johnson has probably been the most impressive wide receiver on the field in getting separation. Unfortunately for Johnson, he’s also been the most frustrating in catching the ball. Johnson, through two games, has been uncoverable lining up both outside and in the slot. Johnson has used his speed, and route-running nuances to get open at the top of his route-stem and off the line of scrimmage with very clean releases. While all that sounds really good, the end result has been really bad. Getting open has been easy for the former Toledo receiver, but catching the football, and finishing the play has been an absolute disaster. Through two games, I have credited Johnson with four drops (three in game one, one in game two). Jon’Vea Johnson has shown enough to still have a decent shot at battling for one of the final receiver spots on the 53-man roster, but needs to show over the next two weeks that he can over come his drop issues and continue to get open in all levels of the field.