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Cowboys news: How the shortened preseason creates a real dilemma for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys

Your Wednesday edition of news on America’s Team.

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

How shortened preseason creates a real dilemma for Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys - Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas Morning News

Week 1 of the regular season is coming faster than you may think.

In 1978 the NFL went from six exhibition games prior to a 14-game regular season to four and 16. It took more than 40 years for the league to get players to understand there was considerably more money to be made in a three-and-17 format which was adopted last season. But the Cowboys played in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton so they still had four warmup acts prior to their season opener in Tampa Bay.

You may recall they lost that game by two points. That was the difference in the final standings between the Bucs and Cowboys and that’s how Dallas played San Francisco in the playoffs. End of season.

So teams get just three August nights to get their act together, and, as you all saw Saturday, the Cowboys’ backups and a sprinkling of starters were far from getting it right in Denver. Meanwhile, Jalen Hurts started for Philadelphia, went 6-for-6 for 80 yards including a touchdown to tight end Dallas Goedert, and now the retooled Eagles are feeling awfully giddy about their NFC East chances this season.

It will be here before you know it. The Cowboys get Tampa Bay right off the bat again in 2022, this time at home. You can’t overstate the challenge coming Dallas’ way because of winning the East last year, and the schedule maker made it even tougher.

Maher Chooses This Crazy Life Of A Kicker - Mickey Spagnola, DallasCowboys.com

The 32-year-old kicker found his way back to Dallas.

Maher did not latch on to another NFL team in 2013 but then decided to go north of the border to the CFL, first during preseason with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, only to be released for international player restrictions to make room for some guy name Hajrullahu. A few weeks later he was signed by Ottawa, kicking in 18 games that 2014 season but reduced to just four games with a hip injury in 2015, but as punter.

Then in 2016 he was on to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Stay with me now. In 2017, he spent like two months with the Cleveland Browns but was released in May and went back for a second stint that season with Ottawa. The Cowboys signed Maher in the spring of 2018 to lessen the offseason and training camp load for Bailey. Lo and behold, the Cowboys chose Maher and surprisingly cut Bailey. Maher would kick that season for the Cowboys and the next, 2019, but when he made only 66.7 percent of his field goals (20 for 30), the Cowboys replaced him in the final four games with Kai Forbath.

Top 100 Players of 2022: 3 Cowboys Revealed on First Release - Shane Taylor, Inside The Star

How many more Cowboys do you think will make the list?

Lamb made his first Pro Bowl last season, catching 79 passes for 1,102 yards. He ranked 16th in the league in receiving yards and now becomes the Cowboys WR1. His numbers and ranking on this list should only go up.

Smith is a member of the 2010s All-Decade team. His highest ranking on the top 100 list was in 2017, when he peaked at No. 18. It says a lot about the impact Smith makes on the field, as he has not played an entire season since 2015, yet players still respect how dominant he is.

Look, although voted on by their peers, there are not 67 players who do their job BETTER than Martin. I understand the players vote on the list, but someone will be ahead of him that should not be. For Martin, this is his sixth consecutive appearance on the list. He is also a former member of the 2010s All-Decade Team like Smith. He is a player that should be in the Hall of Fame when his playing career comes to a close.

Cowboys’ Tyler Smith understands strengths, areas to improve after loss to Broncos -Calvin Watkins, Dallas Morning News

The rookie had an up-and-down showing in his first NFL game action.

On Saturday, Smith displayed the power the Cowboys were seeking when they drafted him from Tulsa. He finished his blocks, but made some mistakes, such as the two holding calls. In his last year at Tulsa, Smith was penalized 16 times while playing left tackle. If you’re seeking any negativity about Smith’s game it’s the penalties. Smith’s first pro game resulted in some flags but it wasn’t the entire picture.

“They were called,” he said. “I can’t control that. Only thing I can do is tighten up my technique. And do things I need to do better. That is my focus moving forward.”

While playing the majority of the first half, Smith helped a rushing attack gain 71 yards, including 62 yards from the three running backs. Coach Mike McCarthy said the Cowboys wanted to establish the run game to help in their evaluation of Smith and Connor McGovern, who started at right guard against the Broncos. Smith and McGovern have shared the first-team reps at left guard during training camp. Smith is the projected starter at that position, but McGovern is making a strong challenge to win the gig.

5 random roster questions after Cowboys’ 17-7 loss to the Broncos - Tom Ryle, Blogging The Boys

Cornerbacks were at the center of conversation after game one of the preseason.

Did we get the ranking of the depth cornerbacks all wrong? Going into the game, we knew the three starters at corner were Anthony Brown, Trevon Diggs, and Jourdan Lewis. (That may be the real order of their worth as well, but that’s another topic.) Most felt that the order of the next three players in the CB room was CB4 Kelvin Joseph, CB5 Nahshon Wright, and probably CB6 DaRon Bland. Joseph was seen as a lock to make the roster because he represents the investment of a second-round pick just a year ago. Some were thinking Wright might actually be pulling a bit ahead of him due to his showing at Oxnard.

During the Broncos game, however, it sure looked like the order was Bland, Joseph, and Wright, with a gap between Bland and the others. It is worth noting that all three seemed to be playing well during the first quarter when the pass rush was getting good pressure on Josh Johnson, but Joseph and particularly Wright looked shaky or worse when Johnson and later Brett Rypien had more time to throw. But Bland was good throughout the game no matter what else was happening, and in both phases. He was solid against the run and arguably got the defense off the field in the first quarter with a stop on third down. There were no embarrassing deep balls completed against him.

Identifying 5 Bright Spots From Preseason Opener - Staff, DallasCowboys.com

Looking at some positive takeaways from Saturday’s opener.

McCarthy said the Cowboys had only two missed tackles on defense and special teams the entire game, an impressive stat given how many young players played significant snaps. "I think it's just a credit to our players and how they work the drills, because at the end of the day that was the only live-tackling opportunity they had because up until that point it was just footwork, approach, long stride, short stride, all those little coaching details that go into tackling," McCarthy said. "As far as the approach and then the strike and the wrap, I thought our guys did a nice job, especially for the first time as a football team."

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