ARLINGTON, Texas – The preseason is now in the books after Thursday's preseason finale.
The staff writers of DallasCowboys.com have each selected a player from both sides of the ball to evaluate throughout the game, followed by a review of their performances afterward.
Let's check out who the staff writers will be followed closely in Thursday's game with the Texans.
Darius Jackson – The rookie running back made his first preseason start and played deep into the second half, finishing with nine carries for 21 yards, three catches for 32 yards and two kickoff returns for 44 yards. It was clear he'd get a full workload when he returned the opening kickoff, then caught a pass from Jameill Showers on the first play from scrimmage. Jackson's best play of the night was a perfectly-executed screen completion from Showers for an 18-yard touchdown on the second offensive series. He didn't always have a ton of running room, but he again showed the kind of vision and burst that makes him a candidate for a roster spot in a crowding running back group.
Kavon Frazier – The rookie safety got a full night's work in his first start preseason start. As head coach Jason Garrett said in his post-game press conference, Frazier was active in run support, delivering. The team has seen him get more comfortable in coverage. There was a three-play stretch in the red zone in the second quarter where he made two straight tackles and broke up a pass in the red zone. He played on multiple special teams units, too. Like Jackson, the fellow sixth-round pick has competed with veterans for a roster spot all preseason and made a solid impression Thursday night.
Rod Smith – He didn't start getting the rock until late in the second half, but go figure – Smith had the best effort of any Dallas running back. He rumbled six times for 42 yards, reminding everyone that he was originally a pretty good running back. He also struggled in pass protection, as Jameill Showers didn't have much time all night. Smith definitely has a valuable skillset, but it doesn't seem like he did enough to grab an active roster spot. I wouldn't be surprised to see him on the practice squad.
Dax Swanson – Of course, I said I wanted to see Swanson continue to show off his return skills, but he finished the night with just one return for five yards. Instead, his best play came as a defender, when he successfully defended a would-be touchdown pass from Brandon Weeden to Wendall Williams. The pass came on 3rd-and-Goal from the Cowboys' 7-yard line, and Mike McAdoo killed the drive with a sack on fourth down. Like I said before the game, anything Swanson can do to prove his worth at multiple positions is good. The odds are definitely against him, but all he can do now is wait to see what happens.
Andy Jones – It's going to be tough for Jones to make this team. He needed a great game and he didn't really get one. And it wasn't for a lack of chances, considering he was thrown to seven times. But he only had two catches for 15 yards and didn't even help himself on special teams. I think he's released on Saturday and will be re-signed to the practice squad. That's my guess but if the Cowboys get a chance to add a receiver with a little more speed, they could go that route. But my gut tells me he's on the practice squad.
David Irving – Right from the start, Irving was making a difference as the starting left end. He was coming down the line on several occasions to make plays and eventually jarred the ball loose for a key turnover that prevented Houston from scoring. After missing a couple of games with a groin injury, Irving needed to come back and play well – not exactly to secure his spot on the roster, but maybe for the game-day actives. Irving was a bubble guy for the 46-man game day roster but I think he dresses for the games now, especially after he was so active Thursday night.
Jameill Showers - With the quarterback situation not being stable at this particular time, it was Jameill Showers' best opportunity to prove that he belonged on the roster. The plan was to play Showers the entire game which the coaching staff was able to do. Where the plan wasn't as good was with the Showers played. There were times where he didn't get the necessary help from his teammates but on this night there were also some situations where he just didn't execute well enough. I thought he showed a willingness to hang in there with poise but his accuracy was no where it needed to be. There were also snaps where Showers wasn't quick enough getting the ball out of his hand and that affected his play as well.
Deji Olatoye - I was surprised with how poorly he played against the Texans. It appeared that without game planning, they were throwing the ball in his direction once they figured out that he was struggling to make plays. Where Olatoye had been outstanding in playing routes and defending balls, his technique was off and it affected the way he finished. There were too many plays where he rallied to the ball to play with his off hand but he was a tick late. Before this contest, I had Deji Olatoye on my final roster and I am likely to keep him in that position even though this wasn't one of his better games of the pre-season. What was once a lock might not be if another cornerback appears on that waiver wire.