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Penalty On Pick Doesn't Erase Solid First Start For Wilcox


ARLINGTON, Texas – With about four minutes remaining in the game and the Cowboys leading comfortably, 31-7, the coaching staff decided to pull all of the starters and play mostly young guys.

To this point, rookie safety J.J. Wilcox had been one of those guys, having played a ton of snaps in the preseason, mostly with the second unit.

So it was rather ironic to see veteran Will Allen trot on the field with 4:08 to play and motion for Wilcox to leave, signaling the end of his day. For it was Allen's spot that Wilcox took as the starter this week.

And for the most part, it was a good day for the Cowboys' third-round pick from Georgia Southern, who was only moved to safety before his senior year. [embedded_ad]

Wilcox was active all game, swarming to the ball, making some open-field tackles, and he nearly put the icing on a great debut with an interception in the third quarter. However, Jason Hatcher's roughing-the-passer penalty on Rams quarterback Sam Bradford nullified the pick and 23-yard return for Wilcox.

He did finish with three credited tackles on the NFL's stat sheet.

"I was disappointed to see (the flag), but really because I was so tired," Wilcox said after the game. "I really wasn't used to playing that much, but it was great to be out there. I enjoyed getting all those snaps. I look forward to getting better each game."

Wilcox admitted being "jittery" in the first series of the game Sunday, but said the nerves calmed down after his first hit.

"That's just football," Wilcox said. "I get anxious out there, but after a while, I was just out there playing."

And overall, the Cowboys were playing rather well on defense. In the first half, the Rams had just 18 total yards, including 13 by the pass. The Rams were 0-6 on third-down conversions in the first half and finished the game 1-13. "I thought Coach (Monte) Kiffin called a great game today," Wilcox said. "We were ready for them and came out playing well. If we can play like that and get them off the field, we can be pretty good."

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