The Dallas Cowboys 2022 campaign didn’t get off to the best of starts in preseason Week 1 against the Denver Broncos. With many of the starters out, the Cowboys relied heavily on the young players to battle it out with the Broncos. While it was a mixed bag of results, what we learned is Dallas still has a lot of work to do.
This week, in preseason Week 2, the Cowboys have another opportunity in front of them to put together a better outing against the Los Angeles Chargers. Those players who had a less than stellar 2022 debut have a chance to redeem themselves, and those who stood out last week against the Broncos have an opportunity to prove consistency.
Today, we’re going to identify five Cowboys players who need to step up their game this week against the Chargers. As things stand right now, all the players listed below are expected to have specific roles for the Cowboys this season, however, that could change if they don’t improve their play against the Chargers Saturday night.
QB Cooper Rush
Cooper Rush played a total of 43 offensive snaps (57%) against the Denver Broncos last Saturday. He finished the evening completing 12 of 20 of his passing attempts for 84 yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception with a 48.8 quarterback rating. He was off-target with many of his throws and was unable to get anything going downfield.
Rush’s poor performance against the Broncos opened the door for Will Grier, who didn’t play last week, to become Dallas’ QB2 in 2022. It may be too little too late, but if he wants to reestablish himself in the QB2 battle, he’s going to need to put together a performance like last season against the Minnesota Vikings, when he was asked to start. If not, he could find himself looking for a new job.
WR Jalen Tolbert
Jalen Tolbert played a total of 40 offensive snaps (53%) against the Broncos last Saturday. He was targeted a total of seven times, but sadly was only able haul in two of those receptions for 10 yards. He also had a bad drop on fourth down. If he had caught it, it likely would have resulted in a first down.
Tolbert is expected to play a vital role in the Cowboys passing game this season as a rookie, but if last week’s performance against the Broncos was any indication, he may not be ready for such a responsibility. Of course, we could chalk up last week’s performance to rookie jitters. Whatever the case, a strong outing against the Chargers would definitely ease a lot of concerns about Dallas WR depth behind CeeDee Lamb.
OT Josh Ball
Josh Ball played a total of 53 offensive snaps (71%) last Saturday against the Broncos in preseason Week 1 for the Cowboys. After pretty much redshirting his rookie season last year, this was the first football action he’s seen since entering the NFL. Unfortunately for him, it’s a performance he more than likely wants to forget and move on from.
In the hopes of becoming Dallas’ primary swing tackle in 2022, Ball struggled throughout the game last Sunday, most notably in pass protection. With Tyron Smith’s known injury history, the swing tackle position has become an extremely important one for the Cowboys over the past few seasons. If Ball wants the job, he’ll have to play much better against the Chargers.
CB Nahshon Wright
Nahshon Wright played a total of 36 defensive snaps (52%) against the Broncos last Saturday. The second-year CB, and former 2021 third-round pick, found himself on the wrong end of numerous plays against the Broncos aerial attack, and ended up being victimized early and often throughout the contest. It was definitely not the 2022 debut he was hoping for.
Due to the current depth at the cornerback position for the Cowboys, Wright may not be able to afford another poor outing against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2 of the preseason. Both he and his fellow 2021 draftee Kelvin Joseph, who also had his ups and downs last week against the Broncos, need to play much better against the Chargers this Saturday. If not, they may find it difficult to find the field this season.
K Lirim Hairullahu & Brett Maher
Sadly, nothing really changed for the Dallas Cowboys in preseason Week 1 against the Broncos last Saturday as it pertains to the kicking competition. Both Lirim Hajrullahu and Brett Maher were expected to alternate kicking duties, both field goals and extra point attempts, and the way things played out they each got one attempt to prove their worth.
Hajrullahu received an opportunity to convert a 56-yard field goal, but weather impacted the kick and it was unsuccessful. Maher was successful on his one opportunity, although it was just an extra point attempt. While neither gained or lost any ground last week in the kicking battle, they can potentially distance themselves from one another with a strong outing against the Chargers this week.