The Cowboys had the best possible scenario occur on Sunday: they won their game against the Bengals without dropping one spot in the draft order. More than that, their win came in convincing fashion, as the defense generated three takeaways en route to a 30-7 victory on the road.
But the odd part of this Bengals win was how little we saw from the rookies. The story has usually been something along the lines of “The team as a whole wasn’t very good, but these rookies look great!” Well, this week it was the opposite.
CeeDee Lamb, WR
CeeDee Lamb didn’t waste much time becoming a focal point for this Dallas offense, and he’s currently second behind Amari Cooper in all receiving statistics. But on Sunday, he only saw two targets all game. Granted, he caught both of those targets for a total of 46 yards, and both catches went for first downs, but it’s an admittedly light workload for him.
Lamb did have one really nice rushing attempt on a jet sweep play that nearly went for a loss of yards. But Lamb’s incredible agility and acceleration helped avoid the early tackle and then cut up field for a first down.
Lamb also returned two punts in the game, but neither resulted in any gained yards since the Bengals had pretty consistent punt coverage each time. All in all, Lamb totaled five touches for 61 yards. That’s not a bad number at all, but it’s a little surprising to see him get that few touches in a game.
Trevon Diggs, CB
The word is that Trevon Diggs might be able to return before the season is over, and the Cowboys would certainly love to see that happen. Injuries forced Dallas to start Rashard Robinson and Saivion Smith on Sunday, and Deante Burton ended up playing an extended amount of snaps as well when Robinson got banged up. But for now, Diggs is still on the injured reserve.
Neville Gallimore, DT
It was a much better day for the Cowboys run defense than the last time they suited up, as the Bengals running backs were held to just 89 total rushing yards. Neville Gallimore continued to play a big role in that aspect, and for the first time all season he led all Dallas defensive tackles in snaps played.
Gallimore only registered one tackle, which has been par for the course for him in recent games. But he’s been very active and impactful in ways that don’t show up in the box score. The one big gap in Gallimore’s game, though? Next to zero pass rush, which has been a recurring problem for all of these defensive tackles this season. Still, Gallimore has developed nicely as the year has progressed.
Reggie Robinson III, DB
Make that two weeks in a row that Reggie Robinson has been active. With Donovan Wilson still hurting, Robinson was once again suiting up for Sunday’s game after making his NFL debut on Tuesday. But he somehow played even less than that game, registering just one snap on special teams.
There was a moment where it looked like Robinson was going to come on the field for an injury, but a timeout was taken that resulted in the rookie out of Tulsa not actually taking the field. Mike McCarthy is just toying with us at this rate.
Tyler Biadasz, C
Tyler Biadasz was active on Sunday after being activated from the injured reserve on Saturday. Joe Looney got the start at center, though, which was likely due to Biadasz being activated with so little time in the week. Biadasz did see the field on special teams, blocking on Greg Zuerlein’s six kicks. Here’s hoping he gets back into the lineup next week.
Bradlee Anae, EDGE
For whatever reason, this coaching staff sees something in Dorance Armstrong Jr. that they just don’t see in Bradlee Anae, which meant the Utah rookie was once again inactive.
Ben DiNucci, QB
I mean, obviously the Nooch was inactive.
Terence Steele, OT
Don’t look now, but Terence Steele is starting to show some real growth. The undrafted rookie, forced back into the starting lineup last week against a formidable Ravens pass rush, looked better than he did in all of his previous starts while still showing some struggles here and there.
It was more of the same on Sunday, as there were a couple of reps where Steele was simply driven back in pass protection. But Steele continued to show improvement in that regard, and once again looked like the strong run blocker we saw early on in the season. He’s been thrown into a most unenviable situation this year, but Steele seems to be getting better from the experience.
Francis Bernard, LB
Francis Bernard led the entire team in special teams snaps on Sunday, which came after he was announced as the team’s special teams captain prior to the game. It’s a big deal for the rookie, who has quickly earned himself a role as a key special teamer for this Cowboys squad.
Sean McKeon, TE
The Cowboys offense had their best game in weeks in terms of finishing out their drives, and that translated to more opportunities for Sean McKeon to come on in goal line situations. He had a career high nine offensive snaps on Sunday - more than both Noah Brown and Cedrick Wilson - in addition to his usual 11 special teams snaps.
Rico Dowdle, RB
Rico Dowdle is another rookie success story that won’t get talked about enough. He tied Francis Bernard for the team lead in special teams snaps on Sunday, and is another undrafted rookie who’s carved out an important role on this special teams unit.
Ron’Dell Carter, DL
After being inactive every week since the Cowboys brought back Ron’Dell Carter, he was active on Sunday. With the Bengals being a more pass-happy offense, Dallas decided to sit run-stopping Eli Ankou in favor of the lighter and quicker Carter. As such, the undrafted rookie saw seven defensive snaps, though he didn’t record a tackle or anything else.