ARLINGTON, Texas – The fourth preseason game allowed for one final look at some of the backups hoping to make the 53-man roster.
Unfortunately for those players on the bubble, there weren’t many standout performances in a lopsided 27-3 loss at home against the Broncos.
A few typical starters, including Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick and Ronald Leary, saw action in the game, but for the most part the preseason finale was dedicated to the second and third string players fighting for a spot.
The DallasCowboys.com staff members each picked two players to watchbefore the game. Here are their reviews after the preseason finale at AT&T Stadium.
Jamar Newsome: He didn’t get much work early, but he ended the first quarter with an impressive first down grab and finished the day with two catches for 26 yards on three targets. He’s made the most of his targets throughout most of the preseason, and he may have the talent to be a top-five wide receiver somewhere in the league, even if it’s not in Dallas. A breakout game would have been nice for him in the finale, but Newsome and LaRon Byrd have given the Cowboys something to think about as they cut down the roster.
Terrance Mitchell: This wasn’t the performance Terrance Mitchell needed as he fights to find a spot on the 53-man roster. Mitchell’s played with physicality throughout the preseason, but too often it resulted in flags. He was called for an illegal contact penalty on a third-and-10 pass that went incomplete and would have forced a punt. He also allowed a 34-yard pass that got to the goal line. The cut of B.W. Webb opened a door for Mitchell, but he didn’t stand out for enough of the right reasons in the preseason finale.
LaRon Byrd: The fringe receiver might have had the best night of any of the Cowboys’ offensive players. He finished with three catches for 48 yards, and he fought back from an early injury to get back onto the field. It’s not as though he lit the world on fire, but you can’t really say that about anyone after a poor showing from the offense. Byrd has certainly made a case that he could be worth a roster spot, but it’s got to be encouraging for the big receiver that he’s eligible for the practice squad – assuming no one else wants him.
Dartwan Bush: Officially, the Texas Tech product only tallied one tackle on the night, but he seemed to show up in the little ways. Early in the game, when the better players were still playing, he was instrumental in clogging several running lanes to negate long gains. He also pressured Denver backup quarterback Brock Osweiler into several bad throws, though he couldn’t quite manage a sack.
Dustin Vaughan – The rookie quarterback from West Texas A&M had a great chance in front of him. With a full half of football, Vaughan had the opportunity to prove he shouldn’t be cut on Saturday and needs to have three QBs on this roster. After this game, it’s hard to make a strong case for him. Vaughan completed 11 of 17 passes for just 86 yards but his lack of mobility was in question by taking four sacks. For the first time all preseason he looked like a guy from a Division II school that had trouble with the speed of the game. I think he’s got talent and his size is intriguing but I don’t think you save a roster spot for him.
Ryan Smith – He played most of the game but like many of the other players with a great shot to make this team, Smith didn’t stand out more than the rest. He had four tackles with another on special teams. Smith got an even better chance to make this roster when it was announced Thursday that Jakar Hamilton will be suspended for four games. Smith isn’t just competing against the rest of the Cowboys’ roster but all of the other safeties getting cut this weekend. Looks like a practice squad player from this viewpoint.
Phillip Tanner: For just coming off the street, I felt like that Tanner handled the snaps well that he received. There were some reads off zone plays where it wasn't as clean as it needed to be but Tanner did a nice job of reading where he needed to cut and showed power to finish runs. Played on special teams at the right wing and did not struggle with his technique. Was able to work away from the line, stay square and handle his man. Did a good job of covering on the kick and playing off the block down field.
Kenneth Boatright: I believed that going into this game that with the current condition of this defensive line, there is going to be a spot for a backup defensive end on this roster. I was very interested to see if Boatright or Dartwan Bush was going to step up and play well enough to be that guy. Of the two players, Boatright showed more when it came to his ability down after down to make plays. He was quick up the field in his pass rush but maybe the best thing that he was able to accomplish this evening was how he defended the run. His technique with his hands I felt like were outstanding. He was able to extend and play off blocks which was an area that he had some struggles. I thought he played with really good awareness and feel when he needed to be in his fits.