Football is back, and so is the never ending debate over performances from newcomers and back-end roster players looking to secure a spot on the team. Many of the usual suspects did not travel with the team and those that did ended up not playing or played in a very limited fashion.
It’s always important to remember to take the good you see with a bit of cautious optimism and the bad with an open mind for growth and maturation. Rookies getting their first taste of NFL action and the nerves that come with that, coupled with the factor of not competing against another live opponent since last season, lends itself to some rust and typically early preseason mistakes.
With all that being said, there was a game played and here are some things we have learned from the Dallas Cowboys at the completion of their first preseason game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The young cornerbacks aren’t afraid.
Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright found themselves thrown into the fire against some of the quality wide receiver group of the Steelers and they did not flinch, and Reggie Robinson II stepped in and flashed at his natural position of cornerback, This was a positive when it comes to youth development of the position. Both rookies played with an air of confidence and showed they aren’t afraid of the moment. Joseph as a whole had a quiet night as he was not targeted much at all, but the young rookie got the start and showed skills as he blanketed the likes of Chase Claypool with fluidity and the athletic ability the Cowboys coveted when they drafted him.
Wright was impressive in his appearance and many felt he was one of the highlights of the evening for the Cowboys. Wright used his length to his advantage and showed willingness to be physical at the line of scrimmage and in run pursuit with ball carriers. Wright’s development is important as many felt the Cowboys may have reached a little early to draft him. If Wright continues to progress and impress, the cornerback position could be a pleasant surprise moving forward.
The tackle depth is an issue.
It was good to see La’el Collins get reps and play well at his customary RT spot, but outside of Collins it was a tough night for the rest of the Cowboys tackles. Tyron Smith sat this game out which led to Ty Nsekhe getting the start at LT. Nsekhe underwhelmed in his Cowboys debut as he found himself giving up a pressure and a sack on back-to-back plays, which ultimately led to a stalled out drive in the redzone.
Brandon Knight and Terrence Steele also saw playing time and were nothing to write home about, as both gave up pressures and struggled in pass protection throughout the night. As the game continued on you really saw the offense struggle to move the ball, and although that may be expected in the preseason, it is concerning when the quarterback is running for his life on many pass plays.
Micah Parsons = as advertised.
The Cowboys first round pick saw his first game action since 2019 and he did not disappoint. Parsons was flying around the ball and showed the great speed and athletic ability that had him widely viewed as the best defensive prospect in this years draft. You can see the confidence and football IQ he possesses as he was tasked with making the defensive calls in the huddle and it appeared if he did so seamlessly. His ability will allow the Cowboys to be multiple in the way they deploy him and he has all the potential to be a real defensive weapon for Dann Quinn and this defense. More reps and more game action will only further solidify his role and impact he will have on this team moving forward.
Rico Dowdle making a case to keep three running backs.
Rico Dowdle was impressive versus the Steelers and showed himself to be another viable offensive weapon for the Cowboys. Dowdle played with the burst, suddenness and decisiveness you want to see in your running backs. Dowdle finished the game with eight carries for 43 yards and two receptions for 16 yards. Whether it was catching passes out of the back field or showing speed at the second level, Dowdle displayed the capability to spell Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard if need be. Dowdle only saw 13 snaps of game action last season and much of his impact will be felt on special teams, but if he continues to impress and progress, the Cowboys will be hard pressed to not find a way to put him on the 53-man roster.
The Cowboys next preseason game is August 13th versus the Arizona Cardinals and with another preseason game comes another opportunity to learn more about this seasons team.
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