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2023 Cowboys rookie report: Brandon Aubrey blocked from perfect season

How did the rookies fare in Week 18?

NFL: DEC 30 Lions at Cowboys Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Cowboys have concluded their 2023 regular season and they are division champs. While this year’s rookie class was one of the least impactful the franchise has had in recent years - which is, more than anything, a testament to the overall talent of this roster - there were still a few players who made an impact in Week 18.

iDL Mazi Smith

The Cowboys welcomed back Johnathan Hankins this week, but that didn’t immediately result in a bunch of snaps for the veteran run-stuffer. They eased him in ahead of the playoffs, but Hankins’ small role also didn’t translate to a heavy workload for Mazi Smith.

In fact, Smith had 15 defensive snaps to Hankins’ 13, and the rookie was behind the likes of Neville Gallimore while being tied with Chauncey Golston for reps inside. That doesn’t bode well for Smith, especially once Hankins starts to see a regular dose of snaps.

TE Luke Schoonmaker

Luke Schoonmaker actually played a lot in this game, though you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise. His 28 offensive snaps easily trumped Peyton Hendershot’s seven, though Hendershot did see a target and catch late in the game while Schoonmaker went zero for zero.

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 was activated from the injured reserve last week, but he was made inactive for the game.

OL Asim Richards

Asim Richards spent most of the day blocking for Brandon Aubrey on special teams, but he got on the field for seven offensive snaps late in the game when the starters were pulled. Richards took all seven reps at right guard, the first time he’s lined up there all season.

CB Eric Scott Jr.

Eric Scott Jr. was inactive for this game.

RB Deuce Vaughn

Deuce Vaughn was added to the injured reserve in order to make room for Viliami Fehoko’s activation, effectively ending Vaughn’s season.

WR Jalen Brooks

Jalen Brooks got a good workout in this game, playing on 10 special teams snaps and also seeing nine snaps on offense. He actually saw two targets on the day, though one of them didn’t count due to an unnecessary roughness penalty from Washington. Officially, he caught his lone target (from Cooper Rush) for one yard.

G T.J. Bass

With Tyler Smith sitting out for this game, T.J. Bass got his second start of the season and first start at left guard. The last time Bass started for the Cowboys, it was a fairly poor performance and resulted in a loss to an inferior team on the road.

That didn’t happen this time around, thanks in part to how much growth Bass has shown this year. He gave up one pressure on the day, but was solid from start to finish. In fact, Bass received the second highest player grade for a Cowboys lineman in this one, behind only Tyron Smith. That’s high praise for the rookie, who has grown into a legitimate depth piece for this team.

FB Hunter Luepke

Hunter Luepke hit a career high in this game after playing on 25 offensive snaps; for context, he had 23 offensive snaps total over the last three weeks. Sadly, none of those snaps saw the ball in Luepke’s hands, but the rookie fullback continued to do great work in the blocking game. The Cowboys have a real people mover for their run game now.

K Brandon Aubrey

Brandon Aubrey was so close to a perfect season on field goals, but it all came crashing down in Week 18. His first field goal attempt on the day got blocked, and Washington returned it for 51 yards to set up their only touchdown in the game.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Aubrey’s second field goal of the day bounced off the upright for a miss. He later made a 50-yarder on the Cowboys’ final drive of the game, offering a small confidence boost after a rough day. It also doesn’t erase an historic rookie season for Aubrey, who was easily the Cowboys’ most impactful rookie.

LB Tyrus Wheat

Tyrus Wheat kept to his usual role, with 12 special teams snaps on the day, and also got to play two defensive snaps.

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