OXNARD, Calif. – The Cowboys dropped their preseason opener to the Denver Broncos, 17-7, on Saturday night, and their league-high 17 penalties for 129 yards was the top storyline as the team returned to Oxnard.
Mike McCarthy said the high penalty total was a major point of emphasis in film review with the team Monday. But upon full review of the tape, the Cowboys' head coach also saw plenty of things he liked against Denver.
- McCarthy said the Cowboys had only two missed tackles on defense and special teams the entire game, an impressive stat given how many young players played significant snaps. "I think it's just a credit to our players and how they work the drills, because at the end of the day that was the only live-tackling opportunity they had because up until that point it was just footwork, approach, long stride, short stride, all those little coaching details that go into tackling," McCarthy said. "As far as the approach and then the strike and the wrap, I thought our guys did a nice job, especially for the first time as a football team."
- The Cowboys wanted to establish their running game Saturday and did just that, posting 141 rushing yards and averaging 5.0 yards per carry. Without Ezekiel Elliott (rest) and Tony Pollard (rest), undrafted rookie Malik Davis led the team with 51 yards on eight carries, followed by Rico Dowdle (nine for 36 yards) and Aaron Shampklin (seven for 32).
- On the flip side, the Broncos rushed for only 39 yards on 22 carries, and Cowboys second-year defensive tackle Quinton Bohanna (four tackles) was a factor in the effective run defense. "I thought the way that he attacked the double teams was as good as I've seen him do it," McCarthy said.
- Saturday also was the NFL debut for first-round pick Tyler Smith. McCarthy said Smith "did a lot of really good things" starting at left guard. "You talk about being physical. You talk about having a play style, he definitely brings that to the table," McCarthy said. "His mistakes were more technical, the finish component of it. … I thought it was lot of good snaps to learn from in his first time out there live."
- Between last Thursday's joint practice session and Saturday's game, McCarthy was pleased with the sheer amount of snaps the young players got against another opponent. That should help them moving forward, even though all the snaps weren't clean. "I know Thursday wasn't live, but it's about as close as you can get to it," he said. "But it's 160 snaps in Week 1 of the preseason. I've never seen young players get that many opportunities. There's definitely a lot of value in that."