The Dallas Cowboys are spending their final days in California before heading back to Texas, but before they get on the plane, they’ll square off against the Los Angeles Chargers in their second preseason game. Last week we got a taste of what some players had to offer and this week we’ll wet our palette even more. Here are 10 players to watch when the Cowboys play the Chargers on Saturday.
QB WILL GRIER
The Cowboys claimed the former third-round pick of the Carolina Panthers after final roster cuts last year. Fast forward a year, and the hope is he challenges Cooper Rush for the backup job this season. Grier didn’t play last Saturday as he’s recovering from a groin injury, but hopefully, we’ll see him in action this week. After a dismal performance against the Broncos, Cooper Rush isn’t making us feel all that great about the backup spot, so a solid showing on his part would also be welcomed.
RB MALIK DAVIS
The undrafted free agent Davis was the team’s top rusher last week as he rushed eight times for 51 yards (6.4 yards per carry) on 29 snaps (39%). He was very elusive and made good use of the holes provided. Rico Dowdle is the incumbent third-string RB, but that job remains up for grabs. If Davis can put together more of the same, he could make a push for a roster spot. Davis offers greater player control appeal as Dowdle will become a restricted free agent after the 2022 season.
OT JOSH BALL
Ball was a player we had our eyes on last week and that won’t change on Saturday. He played through the third quarter logging 53 total snaps (71%). He was okay at times but shaky at others. Considering the Cowboys are putting all the swing tackle eggs into his basket, it is super important for Ball to put together a nice showing in this one.
OT ISAAC ALARCON
The tackle from Mexico is part of the International Pathway Program in the NFL. While his cake craving moments were caught on tape last year on Hard Knocks, the youngster is trying to earn more TV time by moving up the depth chart. Alarcon played 22 snaps (29%) last week and was okay, but he was going against the Broncos' bottom roster pass rushers. It would be nice to see him get an opportunity against tougher competition this week.
WR DENNIS HOUSTON
Abysmal quarterback play cheated fans from seeing some of the promising young wide receivers in action last week. The UDFA Houston has been the buzz of camp, but he only saw two targets across 27 snaps (36%). He caught one of them and we’d like to see a little more of that so we know if he’s someone we should be excited about making the team or just this year’s UDFA WR pet cat.
TE PEYTON HENDERSHOT
A good showing from fourth-round draft pick Jake Ferguson has to make us feel better about the team’s overall tight end situation. He and fellow in-line blockers Dalton Schultz and Sean McKeon should serve as a solid core. What remains to be seen is will the team keep the veteran Jeremy Sprinkle, go with just three tight ends, or give the UDFA rookie Hendershot a shot. Hendershot played 26 snaps (35%) and caught two passes for 13 yards. He also had a 25-yarder called back on a holding penalty. It will be interesting to see how the youngster performs in preseason game no. 2.
CB DARON BLAND
Last year’s Day 2 cornerback draftees Kelvin Joseph and Nahshon Wright didn’t have a good showing last week; however, this year’s drafted corner DaRon Bland was actually decent across 50 snaps (72%). The backup cornerback situation is rather murky and the team really needs at least one of these youngsters to step up. Another good outing from Bland would be pleasing to the eye and could make one of last year’s draft picks expendable.
DT JOHN RIDGEWAY
Most are penciling the rookie nose tackle in as a roster lock because he’s a fifth-round draft pick this year and the team has to give him a fair chance, right? That seems like a foregone conclusion, but the Cowboys' defensive
tackle line group is just stacked with depth. They can’t keep everyone and that could mean the end of the line for reliable veterans like Carlos Watkins or Tarell Basham in lieu of a younger guy with more upside/player control. For that to happen though, Ridgeway needs to show he’s worth keeping on the roster, or else he could become a late roster cut and potentially head to the practice squad.
LB STOREY JACKSON
The rookie UDFA Jackson was the linebacker that impressed the most last week as he saw the most action with 49 snaps (71%). He also was the linebacker with the most tackles as he finished with six total (two solo and four assists). Keep an eye on no. 47 on Saturday and see if he can continue to make a push for one of the team’s final linebacker spots on the roster.
Last week we were hoping to see one guy (we don’t care which one) between Liram Hajrullahu or Brett Maher come in and make us feel better about the kicker situation. Well, that didn’t happen as the jury is still out. The Cowboys didn’t get many kicking opportunities last week as Hajrullahu went 0/1 at field goals and Maher was 1/1 with extra points. All eyes again will be on these two as the Cowboys continue their search for a viable leg.