Preseason is over for the Dallas Cowboys as they finished things off with a 31-16 win over the Las Vegas Raiders. It was the Will Grier show for the most part, but there were plenty of other things going on that had our attention. With a handful of roster battles still going on, how did Saturday’s action move the needle? Here are five observations from the Cowboys win over the Raiders.
Malik Davis is destined for the practice squad
The second-year running back from Florida looked as if he might have a leg up on the RB2 job before training camp began. But a lot has happened since. The Deuce Vaughn phenomenon became a thing as did some nifty play from a healthy Rico Dowdle, and both have moved ahead of Davis on the depth chart. He’s still a solid player, but he’s not so good that it should cause the Cowboys to keep him a spot on the roster.
T.J. Bass might be too good to risk subjecting to waivers
The UDFA from Oregon got the start at right guard and handled himself well throughout the night. His strength was on display as he held his ground even if the defender got an initial push. Bass worked well on combo blocks and getting to the second level. He was a busybody on Saturday night, always looking for work. There were times when he whiffed on picking up his block as it wasn’t perfect, but his continual progress has made this undrafted guard a player who might be worth protecting.
Juanyeh Thomas is making this football team
The drumbeat continues for this second-year safety. He’s having a great camp and he looks better and better with every new preseason game. Thomas has gone from an afterthought to a dark horse to a player who appears to have a choke hold on a roster spot. He was even leading the team in the pregame huddle.
Dallas Cowboys S Juanyeh Thomas leading the team pregame huddle tonight pic.twitter.com/2iZ5ZjtHGM— Jess Nevarez (@JessNevarez_) August 26, 2023
Thomas started the game along with Israel Mukuamu leaving fellow safety Markquese Bell filling in later in certain situations. Could that be a hint to how the coaches view this group? Possibly. Thomas was used in a variety of ways and his contributions in coverage as well as in run defense have shown early and often. He just looks the part of a player that Dan Quinn would want for this defense. Like we said last week, don’t finalize your 53s without Juanyeh on it!
Josh Butler might be a thing
From one sleeper DB to another, it might be time to give Josh Butler some love. A rookie UDFA from Michigan State, Butler has been given plenty of opportunities this preseason with the starters sitting out. And he hasn’t disappointed. Whether it’s getting those long arms extended in coverage or showcasing some physical play at the line of scrimmage, Butler is making plays. The Cowboys don’t have many outside corner options beyond Trevon Diggs and Stephon Gilmore. Nahshon Wright has not worked out as planned and their most recent corner infatuation, Eric Scott Jr., has had his own struggles in preseason action. It’s tough to know what the Cowboys want to do here, but if they’re looking to just keep the most talented players right now, Butler’s name needs to be in the mix.
Brandon Aubrey will start the season as the team’s kicker
We have been waiting to see the team’s new kicker get some action and that’s what we got on Saturday. It wasn’t much, but Brandon Aubrey was able to connect on a 59-yard field goal after missing from the same distance earlier in the game. Aubrey also made all four of his extra points. The Cowboys continue to have this unwavering belief in their young kicker and there hasn’t been any reason for us to believe otherwise. It would’ve been great to see him have a larger sampling of kicks during the preseason, but he’s done okay with what he’s been giving. For now, we will just have to be content with what they have and hope for the best.