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Eatman: Had To Dig Deep, But Found Some Positives


CANTON, Ohio - After a game like this, it's hard to come away with a definitive conclusion about anything.

But I found one, and I'm pretty certain about this one:

The actual game film from this game will not be sent next door to the Hall of Fame museum for future viewings by the paying customers.

Instant Classic it was not. But then again, who is surprised?

Preseason openers, especially when these two teams are getting one more game than the rest of the league, are never going to be pretty. And this was no exception.

We had botched snaps, field goals that were blocked, field goals that looked blocked, missed extra points, fumbles and penalties.

Yet, football was indeed back and played in front over 20,000 people at Tom Benson Stadium, which sits next door to the actual Hall of Fame.

The Steelers won the game 16-3, but needless to say, they will also go back home with plenty of questions about their team, just like the Cowboys will when they resume their final week of camp in Oxnard.

So what did we find out about the Cowboys this Thursday night?

Actually, there were a few things. Here's what caught my eye from my press-box seat:

  • Garrett Gilbert looked like a backup quarterback to me. And if that sounds like a shot, it isn't because that's the exact position he's trying to get. And to me, he looked like one. He wasn't perfect by any means. In fact, Gilbert could've had two turnovers had one pass not been deflected by his own receiver who broke up a near interception and his own lineman didn't jump on his fumble near the goal line. But he did have some nice moments, including a 21-yard pass from his own end zone to Cedrick Wilson for a big gain. He moved the offense rather well, but again, offense stalled in the red zone. The personnel around him is wash for me - sure the Steelers didn't have their top guys on defense but many of the Cowboys' starters were out, too. So overall, I think Gilbert looked solid, considering the situation.
  • Micah Parsons ... he's good at football. We expected that, considering he was picked No. 12 overall. But in his first game, he didn't disappoint at all. He alertly pounced on a loose fumble on the first possession. On the second one, he showed his instincts by getting to the ball for a key second-down stop. He was all around the ball, just like a good linebacker should be. No complaints at all with him.
  • At center, I saw some good things in the first drive by Tyler Biadasz. Again, he wasn't facing all of the Pittsburgh starters, but he wasn't exactly blocking next to Zack Martin with Zeke running behind him. Good day for Biadasz, better than Connor Williams' time at center. Williams had a couple of errant snaps, but overall, he handled himself rather well in his first time in the middle.
  • This team doesn't have a backup kicker - most teams don't. But Hunter Niswander really hasn't practiced a lot at kicker in training camp and it showed Thursday. The shame of it for him is that he had a good year punting last season and should be competing for a job. Instead, he's trying to kick field goals and we can see that it's not his speciality. Greg Zuerlein was able to kick for the first time this week after having back surgery. The Cowboys are hopeful he'll be ready for the opener in Tampa Bay.
  • Nahshon Wright looked impressive to me. He's a long-strider and didn't look lost at all out there. He gave up a big pass to Claypool, who got some separation by pushing off somewhat. Wright made a few tackles in the open field. If this is his floor, I can live with that.
  • I'd like to watch the film on Quinton Bohanna. He looked pretty good to me as well. Hard to move and stood his ground rather nicely.

Hey, it's the first preseason game. It's going to look ugly. It's going to have some positive moments, too.

Let's not dwell on it too much. The Rams will be in Oxnard in less than 48 hours to practice and five days after that, we'll be in Arizona to do this all over again.

Not the best start. Not the worst start. But more importantly, we've officially started - and that's worth getting excited about.