The Cowboys endured their first loss since Week 1, and it came on the road at the hands of their bitter rival, the Eagles. It was a tale of two halves, as the Cowboys did pretty much everything wrong in the first half but very nearly completed a comeback in the second half. So how did this rookie class impact the flow of the game? Let’s take a look.
OL Tyler Smith
Tyler Smith got baptized last week by Aaron Donald, but the rookie didn’t exactly bounce back against the Eagles. In fact, he had his worst game of the year in pass protection, allowing a season high four pressures.
Smith was also charged with giving up a hit on the quarterback, and that was the play where Cooper Rush got hit as he threw what could have been a touchdown but instead became an interception late in the fourth quarter. It was not Smith’s finest moment.
But it wasn’t all bad for Smith either. He continues to dominate as a run blocker, and Smith opened up several big holes in the run game. It’s clear he’s still developing in pass protection, and these last two weeks have been challenging for the rookie, but Smith is having a solid rookie year.
EDGE Sam Williams
Sam Williams continues to take advantage of the opportunities he’s given. After putting up his best performance of the year last week, Williams hardly saw the field this week. That was likely a matchup decision, as Williams isn’t quite the run defender as others on this team are and the Eagles are a run heavy offense.
As a result, Williams only saw 11 snaps on defense. Five of those were pass rushing reps, and Williams generated one pressure on the day. It’s encouraging that his pass rushing skills keep shining even with limited opportunities.
WR Jalen Tolbert
Jalen Tolbert made his return to the active roster after Simi Fehoko landed on the injured reserve, but it didn’t translate to any highlights for the struggling rookie. He played on 10 special teams snaps and saw three snaps on offense. Tolbert ran routes on two of those snaps but wasn’t targeted on either of them.
Perhaps the rookie will get more opportunities next week with Dak Prescott’s return. After all, Tolbert’s best moments in training camp seemed to come with Prescott throwing the ball.
TE Jake Ferguson
Jake Ferguson got the start as the top tight end when Dalton Schultz was inactive as he continues his recovery from a PCL injury. Ferguson responded with the best game of his career, catching four passes for 40 yards and scoring the Cowboys’ first passing touchdown since the Washington game. Not only that, but he scored in style:
Ferguson was also dealing with an injury, as he has been in recent weeks, but it sure didn’t look like it. Still, Ferguson didn’t see as many snaps as fellow rookie Peyton Hendershot, but he still managed to make his impact felt.
OT Matt Waletzko
Once again, Matt Waletzko was inactive for this game.
CB DaRon Bland
DaRon Bland played on 14 special teams snaps, about on par with his usage throughout this season.
LB Damone Clark
Damone Clark had his 21-day practice window activated recently, but he was still inactive this week.
LB Devin Harper
Devin Harper was inactive this week.
TE Peyton Hendershot
With Schultz out, Peyton Hendershot moved up to the TE2 role, although as mentioned earlier he led all tight ends in snaps. Hendershot saw a lot more action as a pass catcher than he’s used to - his five targets were more than he’s had the rest of this season - and Hendershot turned his two catches into 22 yards.
Hendershot continued to do good work as a run blocker as well, which is an area he’s been making serious strides throughout the year. However, for the third time in the last four weeks, Hendershot was flagged for a penalty. He’s now tied with Terence Steele as the Cowboys’ most penalized player, although all of Steele’s penalties came in Week 1. Discipline will need to be a priority for Hendershot going forward.
S Markquese Bell
Markquese Bell was inactive this week.
RB Malik Davis
Malik Davis was called up from the practice squad with Rico Dowdle’s addition to the injured reserve. He played on 15 special teams snaps, mostly functioning as a blocker for KaVontae Turpin on kickoff returns. Depending on the severity of Dowdle’s injury, Davis may get signed to the actual roster, but he’s likely a lock to continue in this role for at least the next two weeks.