Scout’s Notebook: Gallup Continues To Ascend

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ARLINGTON, Texas – Here are 12 observations from my vantage point in the AT&T Stadium radio booth Saturday night as the Cowboys beat the Houston Texans in preseason action:

  • I continue to be encouraged by what I’ve seen from Michael Gallup in the opportunities he’s gotten with Amari Cooper (heel) currently out of the lineup. I had some questions about whether he could carry the load if something were to happen to Cooper, but he’s showing he very well could do that. His route running and finish have been impressive. He doesn’t get knocked around as much as he once did. He’s playing with better power and strength. He’s now making plays on those contested passes that once gave him problems. A great example was the touchdown he caught on the scramble from Dak Prescott where he fought for positioning and the ball.
  • Before the game I was asking defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli what he had seen from Taco Charlton. Marinelli reflected for a moment and said Charlton has made some improvements, but he just wanted to see more from him, especially from a toughness aspect. I felt Charlton showed some toughness in the way he played Saturday. Put aside the sacks and other plays that he was able to make – what caught my attention was his ability to return to the game after taking the shot to the knee from Cullen Gillaspia. The old Taco Charlton might have look for the easy way out, but to his credit he came back into the game and continued to play despite being banged up. That has to be a step in the right direction in Marinelli’s eyes.
  • I could go either way on Devin Smith and Cedrick Wilson in this receiver battle. Just when I think one’s ahead of the other, the guy that I think is behind finds a way to make a play. I thought both played very well against the Texans, not only on offensive snaps but on special teams as well. It might very well come down to which player they can take to the game and give them the most snaps each week.
  • I have to give Brad Sham credit for this thought: He asked me which player I thought helped himself the most and I said Taco Charlton. Brad said C.J. Goodwin, and the more I thought about it, he was exactly right. There were not any questions about Goodwin as a special teamer, but was he a liability in coverage? In these practices, every cornerback was making some type of play with the exception of Goodwin. On his interception, he had showed some traits we had not seen from him. Not only did he close on the receiver showing, he was able to high point the ball as well. It was a good night for him to change some thoughts about his overall game.
  • If you listened to the radio broadcast you continued to hear my love for running back Jordan Chunn and his quest to make this roster. I think he has an excellent chance, especially if the lineup is Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard as the primary backs. In my view, Chunn can be a better Rod Smith, who was effective on special teams and spot duty when he received those opportunities here. Chunn has a better feel as a runner than Smith. I also believe he catches the ball better out of the backfield. There is much more to his game than what we saw from Smith, and there’s a place on my squad for a guy like that.
  • If I were a personnel man on another club I would ask my boss to call the Cowboys about Joe Thomas in a trade. I don’t believe that the front office would trade him, but I would sure ask. He plays behind Sean Lee, so in all likelihood he’s going to see action at some point in the season as a starter. Thomas could start in most schemes and never come off the field. He’s done a great job of taking advantage of Lee being out. The snaps that he’s received have made him a better player, not only on defense but special teams as well. That blocked punt was all him just beating two men and arriving on Trevor Daniel’s foot.
  • Credit to Cooper Rush and the way he has run away with this backup quarterback job. The one thing you want from your quarterback is to move the team, and he has done just that. He has put back-to-back games together where the offense has looked efficient, and it’s been in large part due to his play. He has stayed away from poor decisions and been accurate with his throws. The line and receivers have done a good job as well helping him along.
  • The pass play that Rush completed to Tavon Austin was a play they ran in practice the other day, but instead of Rush throwing the ball it was Dak Prescott with a moving pocket. I love the design of the play and how they use Austin all the way across the field. Austin has that ability to get lost in the secondary, especially when there is so much movement with the offense confusing the defense. There is no question we will continue to see offensive coordinator Kellen Moore come up with more of those wrinkles.
  • I wonder if this squad is going to go with five safeties. I had Kavon Frazier on the bubble, but he played better on defense, so that gave me some pause. Donovan Wilson continues to play well and he will be on the squad. The guy I am struggling with now is Darian Thompson. Thompson didn’t play against the Texans. I thought he started off well, but I just haven’t seen in these games and that bothers me. The coaches love the guy. He’s smart and a veteran, but I am just not sure it’s worth a roster spot at this time. I might just keep four and use that spot elsewhere.
  • Tight end Marcus Lucas has done a nice job of getting in better shape and it has improved his play. Lucas has been with so many teams that he doesn’t have any practice squad eligibility, so he’s really left without any options except for making the roster. That will be difficult for him with the team likely only going to keep three on the active roster. Lucas is an athlete who has caught the ball well in the opportunities that he receives. Speaking of tight ends, it once again unfortunate for Codey McElroy suffered another injury in his neck/shoulder area, and with the short week, he’s likely going to miss the final preseason game.
  • There is nothing pretty about Shakir Soto’s technique, but give him credit, he does find ways to show up. It’s surprising the number of times that wins during games. He was disruptive both defending the run and rushing the passer. He’s likely an odd man out when it comes to making the roster just based on the numbers at defensive tackle. But when you watch him play, he gives you everything he has every snap, which I know Marinelli appreciates.
  • What happened to Texans running back Lamar Miller’s knee is the biggest nightmare for a personnel man in these preseason games. I understand getting your guys work, but an injury to a starter in a game that has no bearing on your win/lost record is as bad as it gets. The Texans traded for Duke Johnson, so they have to feel they might be protected, but having the option to use both players was clearly in their plans.

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