DallasCowboys.com Staff Writer
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Don’t Forget About These 5 Plays: Taco Shines, Cooper’s Comebacks & More
ARLINGTON, Texas– The first game of the preseason for Dak Prescott was a perfect one for the second-year quarterback, who posted a perfect QB rating of 158.3.
The first game of Jaylon Smith’s career was a rather perfect start, too.
Dez Bryant’s TD catch couldn’t have been better and the defense once again played well.
But those are moments you remember from Saturday’s 24-19 win over the Colts. Let’s focus more on moments that might have gone unnoticed. This spot is usually saved for the five plays that changed the game. But in the preseason, let’s focus on five other players and/or aspects of the game.
So this preseason version will include players, stats and sometimes plays that get overlooked.
Take 2 For Duke: While the Cowboys certainly want to see rookie draft picks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis on the field, the door has been opened more for Duke Thomas. The first-year cornerback had another nice game, recording five more tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage. An even bigger sign the Cowboys might be finding ways to keep him, Thomas, who starred at the University of Texas, was placed on kickoff return, something we haven’t seen much of in the four weeks of camp. Thomas did have a 17-yard return on his only attempt. Last week, Jason Garrett couldn’t help but comment about Thomas’ game against the Rams. He recovered a fumble, made three tackles and had another big stop on special teams.
Smith & Smith – We all saw what Jaylon Smith did in his first game after missing all of last year with a knee injury. But he wasn’t the only one in the family making plays. Older brother Rod Smith is making a very strong case to make this roster as a versatile do-it-all back who can play both fullback and tailback, along with special teams. Ironically enough, Saturday marked the first time the two brothers have played on the same team together in their entire careers, dating back to the Pop Warner days.
Comeback Coop – Let’s look a little deeper than just the last three preseason games for undrafted rookie Cooper Rush. Yes, he’s had three games in which he’s made plays for the Cowboys in a backup role. But in all three games, Rush has not only entered the game with his team trailing on the scoreboard, but he’s delivered a touchdown that either tied the game or gave the Cowboys the lead. Not only that, but he’s coming right into the action and producing. For a rookie free agent, showing that kind of mental preparation is rare, regardless if it’s the first quarter or the fourth.
Punt Return Help Coming? – The Cowboys have given more than enough chances to see if Lance Lenoir has something to offer in the punt return game. After two games with little to no production, plus two fumbles, the Cowboys are certainly waiting to see what they’ve got in rookie Ryan Switzer. He was drafted to take over that role but hamstring issues have kept him out of action the firsdt three preseason games. If Switzer isn’t ready to take over, expect Cole Beasley to field punts in regular-season games. But Switzer does have seven TD returns in college and the Cowboys are hoping he can carry over that success to the NFL.
Taco’s Pressure – While it’s easy to look at the stats and check for sacks, defensive ends can make a difference in other ways. While Taco Charlton didn’t record a sack in his second straight game, he brought pressure around the edge to hurry the quarterback into making a bad throw. Charlton got both hands on the passer to affect the pass. Later, his spin move inside led to a sack for Damontre Moore. Charlton might have had a slow start to training camp but the first-round pick seems to be coming on strong.