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Dunbar, Weems Among Players Reviewed in Writers’ Players to Watch
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – There were many players on the Cowboys roster that stood out – both good and bad – Sunday night in the second preseason game.
Before the game, staff writers of DallasCowboys.com picked two players each to watch throughout the game. Here is the review following Sunday’s game at Levi’s Stadium.
Geoff Swaim: As expected, Swaim entered in the first half in relief of veterans Jason Witten and Gavin Escobar. The seventh-round pick had one target in the first half that fell incomplete in the middle of double coverage. By the end of the game, Swaim had led all Cowboys in targets (seven), catches (four) and yards (57). In the third quarter, Dustin Vaughan found Swaim for a 20-yard completion – the rookie’s longest of preseason. Swaim also had two catches for 21 yards in the opener at San Diego. Right now he’s likely still behind Witten, Escobar and the injured James Hanna on the depth chart. But the Cowboys like Swaim’s potential to develop into a complete tight end.
Damien Wilson: The fourth-round pick made his first start at weak-side linebacker in place of veteran Sean Lee, who was given the night off. Wilson tied for the team lead with four tackles in the first half (three solo), and would have had another if 49ers running back Mike Davis hadn’t broken a tackle after a catch near the sideline. The Cowboys are excited about Wilson’s potential because he has shown the ability to play multiple positions with range and physical play in training camp.
Danny McCray: It’s hard to get too worked up about McCray’s night one way or another. He got into the game at safety as early as the first quarter, and he wasn’t bad. He made a couple of tackles, and limited an open reception to four or five yards. He was also present in run defense, though it didn’t seem like he ever had the opportunity to make a genuine contribution. Special teams is McCray’s calling card, but the coaching staff gave younger guys most of the looks. Not a great night, not a bad night – just a night.
David Porter: The newly-acquired receiver didn’t get in on the action until the waning moments, but he certainly managed to make an impression. Despite only playing in the fourth quarter, Porter nabbed two receptions for 22 yards and continued the strong momentum he’s had since joining the team early last week. It says a lot about the contributions from the young receivers that Porter’s good fourth quarter is some of the best work from a rookie wide out this preseason. Most of Lucky Whitehead’s contributions have come from special teams, and Nick Harwell is the only other youngster to stand out. Here’s guessing Porter gets more looks.
Davon Coleman: For the second straight year, Coleman is coming to play in the preseason. He didn’t start, but played plenty in the first half and was very active, both at the line of scrimmage and even down the field chasing plays. He’s a big tackle that plays on the nose but he’s not afraid to hustle down and get after the backs and receivers. Coleman didn’t get a sack, like some of the other youngsters, but his pressure up the middle led to Gregory’s second-quarter sack. The Cowboys are going to have a hard time cutting him.
Darrion Weems: With Tyron Smith out and Doug Free back to the right side to start the game, Weems moved over to the left side to the start the game. The first series wasn’t good for the O-line at all, especially Weems, who was flagged for illegal hands to the face. He played nearly the entire game on the left side and things didn’t get a lot better. Now, the offensive woes were hardly just on Weems, but he had his share of issues. Obviously, a closer look at the game film might show a few more positives in his play, as it did last week against the Chargers. But if the Cowboys were concerned about Weems being the swing tackle, it’s unlikely he did anything to change that.
Lance Dunbar: Didn't get the opportunities that I thought he would carrying the ball. Was used more as a receiver in routes than he was as a true running back formation wise. Offensive coaches will continue to search for ways to get him involved as a loose player in one-on-one situations where he can make those types in plays in space.
Ryan Russell: I was impressed with the type of game that Russell had against the 49ers. Early in the contest when he was working with Greg Hardy - they were switching positions each snap. There were times when Hardy would rush from the tackle and Russell would line up at end. I thought Russell's best work was when he lined up at tackle and he was able to get penetration up the field in the running game. He also did a nice job of playing at the point of attack with power which allowed these linebackers to flow to the ball and make tackles off the edge.