The Cowboys had a good showing from their top two rookies last week, but it went to another level in the home-opener. CeeDee Lamb, in particular, had his first real big game as a Cowboy, playing a crucial role in the team’s stunning comeback victory. Let’s check out how all the rooks did.
CeeDee Lamb, WR
Is it possible to gush too much over the newest 88? Lamb fantastic on Sunday, following up his solid NFL debut by leading the team with 106 receiving yards on six catches. He almost nearly caught his first touchdown, but Dak Prescott’s throw on the move was a bit too low for Lamb to reel it in. But the rookie still managed to show off his acrobatic abilities.
Another tough catch for CeeDee Lamb.— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) September 20, 2020
"Boy, he's everything that they talked about." — Moose Johnston#OUDNA | #DallasCowboys pic.twitter.com/SaLnGayQRT
That’s an impressive catch for anybody, but a rookie in his second game? With no real offseason preparation? Amazing. But that’s not all. Lamb also had a big catch and run down the middle of the field on the Cowboys’ first possession of the second half. It flipped the field and put Dallas in position for a touchdown as they started their mad dash to get back in the game.
.@dak connects with @_CeeDeeThree for 37 yards!— NFL (@NFL) September 20, 2020
: #ATLvsDAL on FOX
: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app: https://t.co/gdttfTQjuY pic.twitter.com/hYzlA09DJe
Lamb was in on 68 snaps on offense, which was 83% of the total offensive snaps. One of those snaps included a run on the jet sweep, which Lamb took around the corner for nine yards. He also had four punt returns, though three of them were fair caught; the one punt he actually returned went for just three yards.
Finally, there was Lamb’s final catch of the day. He crossed his defender twice on the route, made the catch, and ran down the sideline to ultimately move Dallas into position for the game-winning field goal. The overlooked part of this play? Lamb’s mental awareness to go down in bounds and keep the clock running. A veteran move from a rookie receiver to seal the deal.
CeeDee Lamb's big catch and run that set up the game-winning field goal.— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) September 20, 2020
Lamb finished the day with 6⃣ receptions for 1⃣0⃣6⃣ yards.#OUDNA x @_CeeDeeThree pic.twitter.com/UEJQyHvGSk
Trevon Diggs, CB
Cornerback may be the hardest position on defense to play as a rookie, but Trevon Diggs keeps showing that he’s up to the task. Last week, Diggs made plenty of plays in the run game and showed good coverage despite giving up some plays on perfectly thrown balls.
That theme continued on Sunday. Diggs was third on the team in tackles with six and had a pass defensed. And while he didn’t cover Julio Jones exclusively, he matched up with the star receiver plenty of times and helped limit Jones to just two catches for 24 yards.
Diggs was not without mistakes - he was unable to get a pick in the endzone and nearly gave up a touchdown to Jones that was ultimately dropped - but after once again playing every single defensive snap (the only Dallas corner to do so), he showed that he’s capable of playing right away without being a liability.
Neville Gallimore, DT
Neville Gallimore continues to be eased into the fold this year. After playing on just six defensive snaps last week, Gallimore saw an increase to 14 snaps this week. It wasn’t enough to really make an impact, as Trysten Hill’s impressive play has taken up most of the snaps available next to Dontari Poe, Antwaun Woods, and Tyrone Crawford.
It’s a good thing that the Cowboys don’t feel the need to play Gallimore right away, especially since it’s tied to the major improvements last year’s top draft pick has made. Expect Gallimore to gradually get more work as he grows this year.
Reggie Robinson II, DB
Once again, Reggie Robinson was on the inactive list. It seems that the Cowboys are planning on giving the fourth-round rookie a redshirt season, as long as more injuries don’t pile up in this secondary.
Tyler Biadasz, C
After seeing the field for a brief time last week, Biadasz did not receive any offensive snaps this week. He did, however, continue to block on kick attempts, giving him six special teams snaps. Unless things go poorly on the interior of the offensive line, this should be the status quo for this season.
Bradlee Anae, EDGE
After Lamb and Diggs, Bradlee Anae made the most noise of any rookie in training camp. But with the likes of Aldon Smith and Everson Griffen ahead of him, there’s just not many snaps available for the rookie edge rusher.
But Anae did get in for three defensive snaps when DeMarcus Lawrence had to come off the field. On Anae’s first play, he nearly got a quarterback pressure after beating his man off the line. On another play, he sealed the edge well and helped bring down the running back for a loss. It was a small sample size, which skewed the data, but Anae was technically the Cowboys’ highest-graded defender according to Pro Football Focus.
Who was PFF's highest-graded #Cowboys defender last night?— John Owning (@JohnOwning) September 21, 2020
This guy ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/T41sPP1bil
These are baby steps for Anae, who won’t see the field much unless injuries dictate it, but the very little we’ve seen from the former Utah star is promising.
Ben DiNucci, QB
Ben DiNucci was inactive, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Terence Steele, OT
Another week of undrafted rookie Terence Steele starting at tackle and another week of saying “He’s not playing bad given the circumstances.” It’s very hard to be harsh on Steele, who wasn’t even expected to make this roster back when he first signed with the team. But he’s now played every single offensive snap for two consecutive weeks while La’el Collins is out.
DAL was actually in a decent position to pick up this blitz if Steele didn't hit a lookout block on John Cominsky (50). Looked like Steele was a tad late out of his stance.— John Owning (@JohnOwning) September 21, 2020
Dak then tried to do too much and fumbles - one of his few mistakes Sunday. pic.twitter.com/FhaRpxRvE9
As John Owning illustrates here, Steele’s delay in his get-off played a part in the strip sack of Dak in the first quarter. Prescott was never sacked again in the game, and was only hit three more times on Sunday. Steele put together another solid performance, not wowing anyone but not Chaz Greening it up either. He’s not a liability going into the final game before Collins can return.
Rico Dowdle, RB
After seeing some significant usage on special teams last week, Rico Dowdle did not appear on the field once despite being on the active roster.
Sean McKeon, TE
Blake Jarwin’s season-ending injury meant McKeon is now the third-string tight end. It also meant he was on the active roster after being inactive last week. He came on the field for three offensive snaps in jumbo packages, and also put together nine special teams snaps.
That’s probably the extent to which McKeon will be used this season now that he’s TE3, but both Dalton Schultz and Blake Bell proved there’s no need for McKeon to get involved as it is.