What We Learned: Cowboys’ victory over Chargers filled with valuable intel- Ben Grimaldi, CowboysWire
There is a lot to take away from the second-to-last dress rehearsal.
Nahshon Wright is struggling
There were high hopes for the 2021 third-rounder heading into the preseason but the exhibition games haven’t been kind. Wright was beaten for a long gain and a touchdown in the opener, and things didn’t improve much against the Chargers.
He was beaten for a 41-yard completion that set up a field goal for the Chargers and also had a pass interference penalty called on him.
It wasn’t all bad for Wright, who did have a pass breakup and showed some solid tackling, but he’ll need to play better to make a case to be one of the top four corners. With veteran cornerback Jourdan Lewis out until the regular season, and possibly longer, the defense needs a CB to step up and Wright is struggling to find consistency.
The Cowboys might have officially found their QB2.
When it comes to the battle for the who will back up Dak Prescott in 2022, let’s not quite … rush … to judgment. As it stands, the throne belongs to Cooper Rush by virtue of him being the incumbent and longtime QB2 for the Cowboys who has the inside track with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, yes, but Will Grier is hellbent on making the decision as difficult as possible.
Grier was absent from the preseason opener against the Denver Broncos and the scrimmages that preceded it - due to a groin injury suffered early last week in Oxnard - but his preseason debut for Dallas against the Chargers served as a reminder of what he’s building in training camp.
The 27-year-old entered the game once Rush’s evening was complete and immediately got to work - finding rookie tight end Jake Ferguson for a first down and going on to finish with six completions on 10 attempts for 98 passing yards, no interceptions, a passer rating of 92.9 and nine rushing yards.
“I’ll tell you man, what a gritty performance,” said head coach Mike McCarthy following the victory at SoFi Stadium. “... I thought he did great. Just a gritty performance. It was good to see him in command and running the offense. It was his first real opportunity in this offense, and I thought he did a really nice job.”
There were definitely more studs this week than in the Broncos game.
Stud: Israel Mukuamu, S
Israel Mukuamu nearly had a huge tackle for a loss on Joshua Kelley on the opening drive, and while the running back got away from the second-year safety, he still ended up gaining just one-yard thanks to the penetration.
Then, on the very next play, Mukuamu was able to haul in a deep pass intended for Chargers wideout Josh Palmer. There was some pressure on the play from Dante Fowler, which forced Easton Stick who overthrew his target.
Strong start tonight for Cowboys second-year safety Israel Mukuamu. He’s been having a nice camp pic.twitter.com/0yrtMWh4wK
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 21, 2022
His solid play continued when he broke up a third-down pass to Jason Moore. After getting past Kelvin Joseph, Moore had to reach for a pass that was slightly high, but he looked ready to pull it in.
That was until Mukuamu delivered a hit that knocked the ball out of the wideout’s hands.
Dud: Josh Ball, OT
The first drive saw offensive tackle Josh Ball get destroyed on a pass rush by Chris Rumph. He also struggled to set the edge on a second-quarter run where Rico Dowdle went for 15-yards. The running back had to maneuver away from the edge defender before breaking off the long run.
Dallas is banking on Ball to be the swing tackle but so far, he has struggled — and that has to be worrisome since he has yet to go against any legitimate starters.
One thing they definitely got right was letting KaVontae Turpin touch the football.
For one, when looking at the game stats, the Cowboys only had 127 passing yards while the Chargers had 219. That’s strange, seems like with such high scoring from Dallas they should have lots of passing yards. What about rushing?
Cowboys had 115 rushing yards while the Chargers had 77 yards. Better, but not enough to score that many touchdowns. Well, the secret to that question isn’t in the offense, but instead in the special teams.
A man by the name of KaVontae Turpin took the stage in this game making his debut. Turpin, who plays Wide Receiver, managed to score two touchdowns from returns. Perhaps the Cowboys found a new kick returner?
Another problem the Cowboys fixed was penalties, kind of. They had a total of 8 penalties for 57 yards. Better than last week, but not to the point of comfort. Those penalties can cost the team trouble in the future so the number still needs to decline for the number of penalties.
Cowboys’ Kavontae Turpin: ‘I Got the Heart of a Lion’ After 2 Return TD vs. Chargers- Scott Polacek, Bleacher Report
Rightfully, Turpin seems to bring a lot of confidence to the roster.
Turpin returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter of Saturday’s contest against the Los Angeles Chargers, and he followed that up with an 86-yard punt-return touchdown in the second quarter.
“I got the heart of a lion,” he said during a CBS interview (h/t Jori Epstein of USA Today). “So I’m just trying to use my speed, use my ability that God gave me to my advantage.”
His returns helped lead Dallas to a 32-18 victory, and Epstein noted they “likely solidified his spot on the Cowboys’ 53-man roster.”
That Turpin’s football journey has led to this point is notable considering he was undrafted out of TCU in 2019, went to the Fan Controlled Football league and the European League of Football in 2021, and then won league MVP during the inaugural USFL season.
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Chargers: Stock Up for KaVontae Turpin, Stock Down for Jalen Tolbert- RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys
Outside of Turpin, whose stock rose the most on Saturday night?
Stock Up: Rico Dowdle
There are a lot of people well-aware of Rico’s talents, but he just keeps stacking good performances together. It feels very obvious that he is this team’s RB3.
On the night he finished with 13 carries for 44 yards and a score.
Rico Dowdle touchdown!
— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) August 21, 2022
Lock it up. Rico Dowdle is this team’s third runner.
Stock Up: Trysten Hill
There have certainly been questions about Trysten Hill and whether or not he would make it to his fourth season with the Cowboys. The interior of the defensive line is a crowded room but Trysten has managed to stick around this long which is notable.
Turnovers and splash plays matter in the preseason and Hill not only had one but he hit the trifecta!
— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) August 21, 2022
Time will tell whether this is enough for Hill, but there is no question that his stock has risen as a result of Saturday night.
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