LOS ANGELES– While the Cowboys had to be somewhat disappointed with their 28-24 loss to the Rams Saturday night in a game where the home team scored 21 unanswered points in the second half, the goal of preseason games is more about evaluation and staying healthy.
This spot is usually saved for the five plays that changed the game. But in the preseason, let's focus on five other aspects of the game.
So this preseason version will include players, stats and sometimes plays that get overlooked.
Lucky gets it started – Not that opening-game kickoff returns are easily forgotten, but there's a chance for this dazzling play to be overlooked with football returning to LA, Dak Prescott's performance and the second-half comeback for the Rams. But Whitehead's play ignited the Cowboys early, and should give Whitehead a personal lift. All week leading up to the game, the second-year receiver struggled to catch passes. But he had no issues with the opening kickoff, or finding a lane to the end zone. On the bigger picture, it's hard to think a player can make the roster on the first play of the preseason, but that likely happened Saturday night.
Early screen to Morris – If there was a clear knock on Alfred Morris' game, it would be for his lack of receiving skills, or experience. To stick with the Cowboys, it was a given he needed to be more of an all-around back. On the first offensive possession, Morris and the Cowboys faced a third-and-11 at the Rams' 27. Morris was able to get out of the backfield on a screen pass from Prescott and then dart up the field for the 12 needed yards and a first down. The Cowboys scored two plays later but it was Morris' receiving play that made it happen, and likely helped his cause as well.
Russell's missed tackle – Ryan Russell had a chance to help his chances of making the team by virtually playing the entire game at right defensive end. Russell nearly had a quarterback sack in the first quarter, although his tackle of the quarterback was ruled a running play. But against the run later in the quarter, Russell was in the backfield to make a tackle but couldn't corral LA's Benny Cunningham, who not only got away from Russell, but found the end zone for a touchdown. Russell was credited with just two tackles.
Showers misses Swaim on fourth down – No one will forget the play Showers made to escape would seemed to be an easy sack for the Rams, only to scramble out and connect with Vince Mayle for 47 yards. But later in the drive, on a fourth-and-1 from the Rams 8, Showers had a designed rollout but didn't see Swaim open headed towards the end zone. Instead, he kept running towards the sideline and eventually threw an incomplete pass, resulting in a turnover on downs. A touchdown on that drive and the Cowboys likely come away with the win.[embeddedad0]
Jones' third-down drop – Andy Jones hadn't dropped many passes – if any – here at training camp. So it had to be surprising for many Cowboys fans who heard nothing but positive things from the undrafted rookie from Jacksonville. Jones dropped Jameill Showers' first pass of the second half, but then again on third-and-1 with the Cowboys looking for the go-ahead score. Jones might have been the most hyped rookie free agent of camp, but certainly didn't have a good start to the preseason.