GameDay Blog: Lee Won't Accept Missed Tackles

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Follow along with the very latest Cowboys updates as staff writers David Helman, Rob Phillips, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus provide in-depth news and analysis.

Lee's Missed Tackles "Unacceptable"

(Sept. 9; 10:15 p.m.) – No one expects more of himself than Sean Lee. The Cowboys' veteran linebacker and defensive captain is meticulous, to put it mildly, about his preparation.

So it's no surprise that Lee was frustrated with himself for "unacceptable" missed tackles in Sunday's 16-8 loss to Carolina.

In the first half, Lee had a chance to stop Christian McCaffrey in the backfield but couldn't finish the play, and the Panthers' second-year running back reeled off a big gain.

The Dallas defense as a whole struggled to bring down quarterback Cam Newton in the first half. Newton, who rushed for a career-high 754 yards last season, gained 59 yards on the ground in the first quarter alone. Carolina used the read-option to counteract some of their injury issues on the offensive line.

"They're great athletes, strong," Lee said of Newton and McCaffrey. "Just did a poor job of wrapping him up, especially me in the first half, letting a couple run through me. It's uncharacteristic, so I'm going to have to get to work this week. I can't allow that to happen."

-Rob Phillips

Beasley Gave Cowboys Second-Half Spark

(Sept. 9; 9:22 p.m.) Coming off a season in which Cole Beasley's catches were more than cut in half from the year before, all eyes would be on the seventh-year receiver, who now finds himself as the veteran and most accomplished player in the group. And there was even more uncertainty with him considering injuries had him limited in training camp and the preseason.

But after a slow start Sunday, Beasley at least resembled his 2016 self, catching seven passes to lead all receivers in the game for 73 yards. The seven receptions is tied for third-most in his career and the highest single-game total for Beasley in nearly two seasons.

Beasley had just two grabs for 19 yards in the first half, but found a connection with Dak Prescott in the second half, especially over the middle where he came up with two third-down conversions.

In 2016, Beasley had a career season with 75 receptions for 833 yards and five touchdowns yards. Last year, defenses clearly made more of an effort to stop him and limited Beasley to just 36 catches for 314 yards.

The biggest difference in the two years came down to catch percentage. The sure-handed Beasley caught a career-best 76.2 percent of the passes targeted to him in 2016, but just 57.1 percent last year, which was a career low.

Maybe Sunday's game is an indication of a turnaround as Beasley was targeted eight times and caught all but one for an 87.5 percent catch ratio.

-Nick Eatman

Cam Newton Pads NFL Record For TDs

After seven seasons, Cam Newton already owns a distinctive NFL record. And he added to it on Sunday at the Cowboys' expense.

Entering the game, Newton was already the NFL's all-time leader in rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 54. His linebacker-type body has always made him a threat to score and he made sure to do it once again for the first touchdown of the game. 

Newton's 4-yard run gave the Panthers a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter. However, he had even bigger runs that hurt the Cowboys in the first half, including a 29-yard on the first drive of the game. Overall, Newton led with 58 rushing yards, while completing 16 of 27 passes for 161 yards for an 82.4 QB rating.

-Nick Eatman

Randy Gregory Ruled Out vs. Carolina With Concussion

(Sept. 9; 5:45 p.m.) – Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory left with a head injury in the second quarter of Sunday's opener at Carolina and did not return to the game.

Gregory accidently collided with fellow defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and slowly walked off the field with head athletic trainer Jim Maurer.

Taco Charlton started the game at right defensive end with Gregory rotating in on passing downs.

This was Gregory's first regular-season appearance since the end of the 2016 season. He was suspended all of last season for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

-Rob Phillips

Panthers' Olsen Out With A Foot Injury

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen exited with a foot injury in the second quarter and will not return.

Olsen, the top receiving option for Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and a three-time Pro Bowler, popped up on the injury report with a back issue late in the week. He had 2 catches for 33 yards before the injury.

Without Olsen in the lineup, Carolina still capitalized on a 30-yard punt return at the start of the second quarter, scoring the game's first points on a 4-yard touchdown run by Newton.

-Rob Phillips

Ross Makes First Big Play of 2018

One of the last guys to make the 53-man roster, Daniel Ross came up with a big play in the first defensive drive of the season for the Cowboys.

The Panthers had a third down inside the 5-yard line but Ross, a backup defensive tackle, darted into the backfield to not only stop Christian McCaffery for a loss, but he forced a fumble that was recovered by DeMarcus Lawrence for a turnover.

Ross was part of an eight-man rotation that got plenty of looks early in the game as rookie end Dorance Armstrong got a few reps, as did Randy Gregory on third down.

Ross, who spent most of last year on the practice squad, has been a pleasant surprise during camp with his pass-rush skills, but showed some run-stopping ability as well.

Short Weather Delay

The NFL has officially put a 10-minute delay on the start of Sunday's Dallas-Carolina game here at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. The game will now start at 4:35 p.m. (EDT).

Kickoff was scheduled for 4:25 p.m. but after a heavy downpour that began around 3:00 during pre-game warmups, both teams cleared the field, and the fans in the stands also took cover after a nearby lightning strike. 

After about 30 minutes, the players and fans returned to the field to continue pre-game preparations.

Last year, in the Cowboys' first road game, there as a lightning delay in Denver over an hour, but it occurred during the first quarter.

-Nick Eatman

Rico Gathers Among Inactives For Week 1

Rico Gathers won't be in uniform for his first game on the Cowboys' roster.

That's perhaps the biggest news heading into Week 1, as the Cowboys released their seven inactives 90 minutes prior to kickoff. Gathers is joined on the list by Mike White, Travis Frederick, Adam Redmond, Datone Jones, Chris Covington and Xavier Woods.

The vast majority of that list is common sense. Frederick, Jones and Woods were ruled out on Friday due to injury. Covington and White are rookies at the bottom of the depth chart, and Redmond just joined the team a week ago.

It probably shouldn't be surprising that Gathers has been ruled inactive, but it's at least interesting. The 6-8 tight end has been a source of debate ever since he was drafted in 2016, and he sparked plenty of conversation last week when he made the Cowboys' 53-man roster for the first time – on the same day he was also arrested.

In three preseasons, Gathers has shown a knack for big plays, particularly when used as a receiver down the field. But the question has always been whether he's fundamentally sound enough as a player to justify giving him a uniform on game day.

For one week, at least, the Cowboys have answered that question. It will be rookie Dalton Schultz who gets the nod against the Panthers, while Gathers watches from the sideline.

Whether he can get himself onto the field in subsequent weeks will be a story worth watching throughout the 2018 season.

-David Helman

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