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2023 Cowboys rookie report: Jalen Brooks has highlight catch

Jalen Brooks is starting to make a name for himself.

NFL: NOV 19 Cowboys at Panthers Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Cowboys had a very happy Thanksgiving as they rolled the Commanders in a 45-10 victory. There’s a pretty long list of players who had a great game in this one, and a few rookies found their way onto that list. Let’s take a look.

iDL Mazi Smith

The Commanders are a fairly pass-heavy offense, and they were especially inclined to throw it around with a large deficit for much of this game. Despite this, the Cowboys kept Mazi Smith to his usual workload, as the rookie saw 20 defensive snaps on the day.

That meant Smith saw more exposure in the pass rush game than he has all year, and he looked good in those reps. He finished with two pressures on seven true pass sets, a strong figure for the rookie. He also made a tackle in run defense, though Smith only played on eight run defense snaps in the game. This was an encouraging sign for Smith’s development as a pass rusher, an area where Cowboys coaches felt he had untapped potential coming into the NFL.

TE Luke Schoonmaker

Luke Schoonmaker put up another quietly productive day at the office, playing on 22 offensive snaps with 18 of them coming as a blocker. On his four routes run, though, Schoonmaker saw two targets.

The first was a catch that saw the tight end break two tackles as he powered forward for a first down; in total, he picked up 12 yards, with half of that coming after the catch. His second target fell incomplete, but it was a rare poor throw from an off-balance, under pressure Dak Prescott. Schoonmaker nearly came up with it anyway, but it would’ve been a difficult catch given the angle it was thrown.

Schoonmaker was credited with a drop for the play, though it’s hard to really fault him for this one. Overall, this was another solid performance for the tight end, who’s been getting more confident as his role expands in this offense.

LB DeMarvion Overshown

DeMarvion Overshown tore his ACL in the preseason and is on the injured reserve for the year.

EDGE Viliami Fehoko

Viliami Fehoko is on the injured reserve.

OL Asim Richards

Asim Richards was inactive for this game.

CB Eric Scott Jr.

Eric Scott Jr. was inactive for this game.

RB Deuce Vaughn

Deuce Vaughn was inactive for this game.

WR Jalen Brooks

Jalen Brooks has been gradually seeing more involvement this season. He went from being a frequent inactive to playing on special teams and, most recently, even seeing work on offense. He had four catches against the Giants in Week 9, but he put up the longest catch of his young career on Thanksgiving. The strangest part: he did it without even being the target.

The heads-up play from Brooks to catch the tipped pass gained 24 total yards and set the Cowboys up for a touchdown right before halftime. That, along with the stellar special teams work he’s been putting up, is only going to result in more snaps for Brooks moving forward.

G T.J. Bass

In a bit of a surprise move, the Cowboys didn’t pull their starters in this one despite the huge lead. That meant T.J. Bass was relegated to just blocking on Brandon Aubrey’s six kicks for the day.

FB Hunter Luepke

It was more of the same for Hunter Luepke, seeing just four snaps on offense with all of them coming at fullback. Luepke also remained busy on special teams, with 15 snaps there.

K Brandon Aubrey

Brandon Aubrey has proven that he’s automatic on field goals, as the rookie kicker drilled his only attempt of the night from 52 yards out. Someone might need to tell him that he’s kicking a field goal on extra points, though, as Aubrey missed a PAT for the second straight week.

LB Tyrus Wheat

Tyrus Wheat continues to be a core piece of this special teams group, playing on 15 snaps there and often getting featured on punt coverage groups. Wheat also saw three snaps on defense late in the game, and he managed to record a tackle in his brief work.

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