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Cowboys vs Seahawks preseason game stats: There is only one number that really matters

It’s the thing we dread every preseason.

Dallas Cowboys v Seattle Seahawks
A possibly major piece is gone.
Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images

While preseason games are a welcome sign that the NFL season is almost upon us, they are also a frequent horror story for many teams. That was the case for the Dallas Cowboys against the Seattle Seahawks. The horror comes from seeing key players go down with injuries in a meaningless contest that grows less and less important each year. For Dallas, they lost two very promising rookies for the season and now have an ongoing health concern with what was supposed to be a key depth player. With all due respect to Sheldon Redwine, who was the fourth player injured, those other three injuries could have repercussions throughout the year.

Stat: Injuries - 4

DeMarvion Overshown has had the best camp and preseason of any rookie over five and a half feet tall. He was not only assured of making the roster, he had a chance of becoming a starter at some point in the season. While listed as a linebacker, think Jayron Kearse for how he fit with the team. Overshown has those hybrid traits that make him deadly against the run while providing good coverage against tight ends, as well as blitz potential. Dan Quinn uses his players differently than most defensive coordinators, and Overshown was a Quinn pick all the way.

It is disheartening that he will miss the season, but look for him to come back next year and contend for a starting job from the start. Kearse is in the final year of his contract, and is indicating he would be costly to bring back. With all the other players that the team wants to keep, it is highly likely this is his final season in a Cowboys uniform. One silver lining is that it has become almost routine for players to come back from ACL injuries. Expect Overshown to be in the plans for 2024. However, that is no help this year.

John Stephens was the UDFA with the best chance of making the roster with his performance in camp and preseason before his injury. While he would have almost certainly have been TE4, there was an outside chance of him pushing Peyton Hendershot for his spot on the depth chart. His skills as a college wide receiver were on display, and he was adjusting admirably to the new position. He could have given the Cowboys a very talented and extremely young tight end group. Now, like Overshown, he is going to see his advent with the team delayed. But Dallas should put him on injured reserve. He is a cheap investment for the future.

Matt Waletzko’s injury may have the most negative impact. With Overshown and Stephens, the team has some other options, including going short at their positions and using other players to fill the roll. In Quinn’s scheme, the traditional position designations are not that relevant, and players like Isaiah Land and Markquese Bell might be ways to fill the hole on the roster. Running backs like Hunter Luepke can be employed as more of an H back to cover the tight end position, plus Sean McKeon is not bad insurance for the tight end job. But offensive line depth bears a disturbing resemblance to hen’s teeth this year. Waletzko looked like a potential swing tackle, and he was looking better at the LT job. But in the Seahawks game, he was playing RT to improve there. And there does not appear to be a ready answer on the current roster to replace him. The staff is no doubt pouring over free agent options, and the reports Jason Peters might want to come back again are not insignificant.

To fill out our four injuries stat, reserve defensive back Sheldon Redwine was injured, but he was unlikely to secure a roster spot this year.

While the team has so far avoided any injuries to starters, that is due to the fact that none of those starters have taken the field in preseason. And they shouldn’t in the third game against the Las Vegas Raiders. This is a clear case for keeping that bubble wrap on. The NFL is not going to completely abandon preseason games, although there is a desire to cut to two and add an eighteenth regular season game. But the owners are not about to give up the revenue from preseason contests. They want to fill stadiums twenty times during the year one way or another.

Today, however, the preseason is no longer needed to get veterans ready. Off season conditioning has them coming into camp at or very near game ready, and practices take care of most of that. There can still be some rust in the first game or two, but the risk of injury outweighs any benefits of live action against another team. The Cowboys seem to be moving more and more to just using preseason to evaluate depth players and get rookies used to the pro game.

We are still waiting to see what the team will do with their starters in the final preseason game, but the smart thing is to keep them in street clothes. There are plenty of fringe players for whom this is the last chance to make their case, and for many, it is the last time they will suit up with the Star on their helmet. Let them have the reps and take the risks. It may even be time to consider protecting first-round pick Mazi Smith, and Deuce Vaughn might be another candidate to use sparingly, if at all. The Seattle game looks like they were already doing just that with Vaughn as he only had six touches before being pulled. He had the spectacular touchdown before having trouble finding room behind that makeshift offensive line. He really has nothing else to prove.

Dallas knows too well how preseason injuries can completely change the arc of a season. Ironically, it was at the Seahawks that Tony Romo’s career effectively came to an end in the 2016 preseason. While that led to the stunning rookie year of Dak Prescott, we will always wonder what might have happened if the staff had elected to never put Romo on the field in preseason.

My vote is to not risk things with any starters this year. There were just too many injuries last Saturday.

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