clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2023 Cowboys rookie report: Mazi Smith one of few to play well against Bills

Dallas Cowboys rookies did not exactly play well in Buffalo.

Dallas Cowboys v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images

The Cowboys were bound to lose again at some point, but did it have to be this bad? In a 31-10 loss that felt worse than the final score indicates, very few things went right for the Cowboys in this one. Hardly anyone can claim to have played well, but there were two players who are getting their admittedly empty praise in this week’s rookie report.

iDL Mazi Smith

Mazi Smith was pushed into a heavier workload than usual this week with Johnathan Hankins out with an injury. Naturally, the fact that Dallas got absolutely gashed by the run would suggest Smith played poorly in Hankins’ absence. However, that’s not the case; far from it, actually.

Smith ended up being one of the Cowboys’ best run defenders in this game, though it was admittedly a low bar. Smith played on 32 defensive snaps, easily setting a career high, and fared well against the run. He finished with two tackles and a run stop, but there was only so much he was capable of doing on his own. As you can see, most of Buffalo’s successful runs came on plays where they ran away from the interior, where Smith plays.

James Cook rushing chart, Week 15 vs DAL, courtesy of NFL Next Gen Stats

Smith also saw more opportunities as a pass rusher, where he shined. On eight pass rushing reps against the Bills, Smith finished with two pressures, tied for second-most on the team. He also recorded his first career sack, bringing down Josh Allen on a first-down play. The Cowboys still would’ve preferred to have Hankins for this game, but Smith’s play was far from the reason why this defense got beat.

TE Luke Schoonmaker

Luke Schoonmaker didn’t see the field too much in this one, and maybe that has to do with the Cowboys being forced to air things out early on in the game. Whatever the reason, Schoonmaker only played on 12 offensive snaps and, of the four routes he ran, didn’t see a target. That’s the second straight week Schoonmaker has had zero targets in a game, and the first time all season it’s happened in consecutive games.

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 was inactive for this game.

G T.J. Bass

T.J. Bass had his number called in this game after Zack Martin went down with a nasty leg injury. Bass finished the game at right guard, playing a total of 47 offensive snaps on the day in addition to blocking for the Cowboys’ kicks.

All things considered, Bass played well. There’s no replacing Martin, and Bass isn’t who you want against a Bills defense that was swarming everyone. It was hardly a perfect game, but Bass did finish with zero pressures allowed and had some nice reps in the run game.

FB Hunter Luepke

Hunter Luepke didn’t see an expanded role in this game, playing on just four offensive snaps, but he did get to touch the ball again. Luepke had one play where he lined up as the sole running back and took a handoff. Luepke powered forward for three yards and a first down, a nice showing for a very limited role.

K Brandon Aubrey

Earlier on Sunday, Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker missed a field goal, which made Brandon Aubrey the only kicker to have made every field goal attempt this year. Immediately, the concern became whether or not Aubrey would be able to extend his streak in rainy conditions in Buffalo.

Well, the good news is that Aubrey is still perfect, connecting on his lone field goal of the day. The bad news is that it came in a terrible performance for the team as a whole, making it harder to brag about Aubrey now being all alone in this category. Nonetheless, Aubrey deserves all the credit in the world for how good he’s been.

LB Tyrus Wheat

Tyrus Wheat continued his usual role on special teams, playing on 17 snaps there in the game. He also saw some action on defense, with three defensive snaps and one recorded tackle.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Blogging The Boys Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your Dallas Cowboys news from Blogging The Boys