As you might have guessed, the majority of the Dallas Cowboys “big names” sat out the game yesterday. And as reported yesterday, fans learned a few things about the players on the roster already.
Take 1: Alfred Morris, Rod Smith Prove Running Game Still Strong Even Without Elliott
As fans know, Ezekiel Elliott is still under investigation and faces a suspension. With that said, the Cowboys felt they had to sign free agent RB Ronnie Hillman to go along with Rod Smith and Alfred Morris.
With the performances from yesterday in mind, some food for thought hit out of the blue. Is it possible that the Cowboys wouldn’t even miss Elliott if/when he’s suspended? Alfred Morris had seven rushing attempts, 42 rushing yards, and an average of 6.0 yards per attempt. Morris’ longest rushing attempt went for 25 yards. Rod Smith had 18 carries, 64 rushing yards, and an average of 3.6 yards per attempt. Smith’s longest rush went for 16 yards.
Darren McFadden, a player that barely spent any time on the field due to injury last year was left in the dust. McFadden had three rushing attempts, -6 rushing yards, and a -2.0 average. Keep this fact in mind, this was against backups. If we are being honest, McFadden hasn’t even made a lasting impact any other time he was on the field. Could McFadden be on his way out of Dallas? He still has time to prove himself, so we will see.
Ronnie Hillman also made his Dallas debut. Hillman gained only five yards on six carries. With playing behind McFadden, Morris and Smith, this can be taken as a long shot for Hillman to even make the team. Judging the run game from just a single preseason game would be foolish. However, the rest of the preseason looks to be a must watch to see what happens here. Bold prediction: The battle for the final spot at RB will come down to Morris and Smith. If McFadden doesn’t make an impact, he will not survive cuts.
Take 2: Sam Irwin-Hill Makes Positive First Impression
Sam Irwin-Hill was a very important part of the Dallas Cowboys kicking game. Serving as both the kicker and punter, Irwin-Hill made quite the first impression. In terms of kicking, Irwin-Hill was 2/2 on field goals, with an average of 33.0 yards. His longest field goal made was 43 yards. For extra points, Irwin-Hill was 2/2. Playing the part of punter, Irwin-Hill had a total of 5 punts, an average of 36.8 yards per attempt, and his longest punt attempt was 45 yards. To go along with that, Irwin-Hill had one punt go inside the 20-yard line. With a first impression like that, it has Dallas Cowboys writers believing that Dan Bailey and Chris Jones will have little wear and tear during preseason.
Take 3: Kellen Moore, Cooper Rush, And Brice Butler All Leave Lasting First Impressions
Kellen Moore was signed to be the backup QB to Tony Romo. As fans all know, Moore broke his leg in training camp. Tony Romo sustained another injury, which would be his last as a Cowboy. Then, Dak Prescott took over.
This season, Prescott is the starter, while it seems Rush and Moore are battling to be backup QB. With the injury to Moore last season, the game last night was the first real game action he has seen as a Cowboy. Moore completed 12 passes out of 17 attempts. Moore averaged 10.7 yards per attempt, and threw for 182 yards. Additionally, Moore finished with one passing touchdown and one interception.
Let’s not forget the Cowboys had undrafted free agent Cooper Rush come in as well. Rush finished the night 9/18 for 87 yards. Among his “first impression” highlights, Rush completed his first touchdown pass. A pass that went to Uzoma Nwachukwu.
Then, there was the first impression by Brice Butler. Butler, once considered to be a long shot to make the team last season, had a solid outing for this season’s first outing. However, Butler was not satisfied by his first outing on the field. “It’s just practice, you know what I’m saying? This is my fifth preseason, and preseason games are just practice,” he said to DallasCowboys.com.
Though it may seem small, Butler had two receptions for 78 yards. Butler’s longest reception came in the first quarter with the Cowboys down 15-0. And, after the 46 yard pass was hauled in, Rico Gathers would later score a touchdown. Coincidentally, Butler and Gathers both led the way in receiving yards. Rico Gathers had the second most receiving yards last night with 59.
First impressions are vital to any meeting. Making a great first impression will automatically leave a person with hope that a working relationship goes well; leaving someone with a bad first impression can ruin the relationship before it even begins. Cooper Rush left fans and media alike with a positive first impression. With his ability to run the option as shown last night, there is some signs of a mobile quarterback. Rico Gathers left an impression confirming a lot of what coaches and media already knew, and some players left us wondering what’s next. For players like Taco Charlton, many expected big things. However, game 1 of the preseason saw him off the stat sheet. On a positive note, DeMontre Moore had a fairly productive first preseason game. The same can also be said for Chidobe Awuzie. With four preseason games remaining, it seems as if the Cowboys’ weakest point is still defense.