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Cowboys news: Dallas backups underwhelm in sloppy preseason loss

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

[Due to an error in scheduling, the news was published as this later time today]

Journeyman Johnson leads Broncos’ backups past Cowboys 17-7 - AP

The Cowboys were very underwhelming in their first preseason game.

[Russell] Wilson sat this one out, as did Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, leaving the passing duties to backups.

Rypien was 8 of 18 for 113 yards. Cooper Rush got the start for Dallas and was 12 of 20 for 84 yards and an interception. Ben DiNucci (9 of 16 for 112 yards) finally got the Cowboys on the board with a 12-yard TD toss to Simi Fehoko with just under five minutes remaining, capping a 16-play, 95-yard drive.

The Cowboys committed a whopping 17 penalties for 129 yards 48 hours after Dallas’ first-string offense was dominated by Denver’s front-line defense in a chippy joint practice that featured a half-dozen skirmishes.

After yielding 17 second-quarter points, the Cowboys turned away Denver with a goal line stand on the Broncos’ first drive after halftime when cornerback Kyron Brown broke up Rypien’s pass to Darrius Shepherd on fourth-and-goal from the 3.

McCarthy: Penalties “Way Too Much” vs. Broncos - Rob Phillips, DallasCowboys.com

Penalties were a huge issue for Dallas... again.

The Cowboys led the NFL with 141 penalties last season and tied a team-high with 14 in their January playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

In Saturday’s 17-7 preseason loss to the Denver Broncos, they were flagged 17 times — a league-high total in the first week of the exhibition schedule.

Head coach Mike McCarthy isn’t ready to draw a link between their penalties in 2021 and the early start to 2022 — the Cowboys did rest the majority of their projected starters and heavy rotation players Saturday, after all — but he acknowledged that the 17 flags for 129 yards Saturday “clearly are way too much.”

“I think we all recognize that this isn’t the regular season,” McCarthy said. “I understand your question, (but) last year was last year. I think last year as far as trying to establish a play style and an identity, it took us a while to get that and once we did, we won a number of games. This is really the starting point that you go through every year.

“This is preseason. I don’t think this has anything to do with last year. But I didn’t like the number of penalties. I made it clear. I talked about it at halftime and I talked about it briefly in there (the locker room). We’ll take a long look at it.”

Dak, Parsons Among 20+ Players Out vs. Broncos - Staff, DallasCowboys.com

The Cowboys decided not to play many starters.

With 90 players on the roster, there are plenty of guys to evaluate in Saturday night’s game with the Broncos.

But as expected, you can cross off at least 20 guys from the top, as the Cowboys will keep nearly two dozen players out of the game.

Those players were on the field about three hours before kickoff, working on their conditioning.

Among the offensive guys who are expected to sit out, quarterback Dak Prescott is definitely not playing. Veterans Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard and CeeDee Lamb are also out.

On defense, even more players will not play, headlined by Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs. The Cowboys are not going to play defensive linemen DeMarcus Lawrence, Osa Odighizuwa and Dorance Armstrong. Linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jabril Cox will not play. And in the secondary, Jayron Kearse, Jourdan Lewis, Anthony Brown and Donovan Wilson will all sit out.

Antonio Brown on Cowboys WR injuries: ‘Tell Jerry Jones to call me’ - Wilton Jackson, Sports Illustrated

Probably not very likely.

Antonio Brown has not played football in more than seven months. Since then, Brown’s name has made multiple headlines for things outside of football that include him launching a rap career and becoming an independent businessman.

In May, Brown suggested in an interview that he would not play in the NFL in the 2022 season. However, when Brown was recently approached by a TMZ reporter stating that fans wanted to see him play in the NFL again, the free agent wide receiver expressed interest in signing with the Cowboys.

“Tell Jerry Jones to call me,” Brown told TMZ Sports.

Why Cowboys won’t face old friend Randy Gregory in preseason week 1 vs Broncos - Lauren Barash, The Landry Hat

Availability continues to be a problem for Randy Gregory, even with a new team.

The Cowboys are in Denver and ready to take on the Broncos for their first preseason game tonight. However, their former DE will not be taking the field. He’s dealing with a rotator cuff injury, and the Broncos hope he’ll be ready for Week 1 of the regular season, which certainly puts him out of any preseason games.

The 29-year-old began training camp on the PUP list after the team handed him a massive contract. Gregory is still recovering from his offseason shoulder surgery.

Under-the-radar position battle is heating up for Cowboys - Cole Patterson, A to Z Sports

The battle to become Dak Prescott’s primary backup is up for grabs.

Dak Prescott is the man behind center for the Dallas Cowboys. There is zero question about who the quarterback will be in 2022 — or the foreseeable future.

Behind him, though? That is where things get interesting for the Cowboys.

Cooper Rush is the veteran on the roster with game experience. Rush has spent four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, dating back to the Jason Garrett tenure. He is familiar with the organization, locker room, and his role behind Prescott.

Rush received his chance to show what he can do in a key game last season. With Prescott out due to a calf strain, Rush led the Cowboys to a road victory over the Vikings on Sunday Night Football.

Yet, there is a chance that Cooper Rush is not QB2 in 2022. That is because Will Greir, a former third-round pick by the Panthers, has made a push in the backup quarterback competition.

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