The Dallas Cowboys finished their dress rehearsal with a 20-14 loss to the Houston Texans. The score is hardly the issue, in preseason it’s always about how the players played. Earlier we looked at some players who improved their stock in the game, now we’ll look at some whose stock went down. In some cases it wasn’t necessarily their play, but the snap counts and when they played that showed where they are in the coach’s minds.
It wasn’t like Smith had some horrible game filled with mistakes that were easy to see. It wasn’t a case of that at all. His issue is where he now falls in the pecking order of linebackers. Among the four players expected to make up the linebacker rotation, the highest-paid linebacker is sitting in fourth.
The indomitable OCC pointed this out to us in a must-read article that looked at the snap counts of the starting defense in the first half of the game. Overall Micah Parsons had 18 snaps in the first half, Keanu Neal had 15, Leighton Vander Esch had 13 and Smith had 12. When the Cowboys went to two linebackers on the field, the combination of Parsons and Neal got five more snaps than LVE and Smith.
It seems that with this new defensive staff, Jaylon Smith is going to have to work to get his snaps in the rotation.
Any QB who played not named Cooper Rush
There was some good news about the quarterbacking in this game. We already touched on the quality game turned in by Cooper Rush. Also, the was the pregame workout of Dak Prescott where he completed 51 of 52 passes (versus air) and hasn’t had a setback as he ramps up his volume.
On the other side of the ledger was the bad performance from Garrett Gilbert and the mistake-filled performance of Ben DiNucci. Neither player helped themselves in the game, and for DiNucci it was the kind of performance that makes one wonder if he’ll even make the roster or practice squad. Three interceptions will do that. Perhaps the only thing that will save him is Mike McCarthy’s man-crush on the kid.
Fehoko did have a two catches for 24 yards on the evening. His problem is that he has yet to really separate himself from the spate of receivers at the bottom of the roster behind the top five. For comparison, Osirus Mitchell had two catches for 31 yards, Brandon Smith had three catches for 21 yards, and Smith put a touchdown on the board last week.
Fehoko’s size and athleticism made him a very intriguing draft prospect, but that has yet to come to the fore against second and third stringers. What also hurt his night was an offensive pass interference penalty for blocking early on a screen pass that went for 15 yards. Fehoko needs something to happen or he could be looking at the practice squad.
It looks like his shot at playing time is going to be limited in the early part of the season. There were high hopes for the second-round pick, but in this dress rehearsal he was limited to second half snaps. Anthony Brown is locked in across from Trevon Diggs with Jourdan Lewis in the slot, and both Maurice Canady and Nahshon Wright have had more impressive training camps and preseason games.
Joseph has the build and athleticism you want, but he hasn't put it together yet for the Cowboys. His future might be bright, but his present is coming along very slowly.
Saturday night was filled with plenty of highlights for the Cowboys and unfortunately also some lowlights. We collected them all for you on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel.