CANTON, Ohio – While most of the talk from Sunday's preseason opener with the Dolphins centered on the players not on the field, there were plenty of others standing out, especially some youngsters.
Before the game, Dallascowboys.com staff writers Bryan Broaddus, Rowan Kavner, Nick Eatman and David Helman picked two players each that they would be evaluating closely.
Now, we let them review their guys after watching four quarters of football here in Canton.
Joseph Randle, RB:The rook didn't get as much early work as I was anticipating, as Lance Dunbar and especially Phillip Tanner got the nod in the early going. Randle didn't waste much time once he got his carries in the second half, though. He went to halftime with just three carries for 16 yards, and he finished with 13 carries for 70 yards – a healthy 5.3 yards per carry average.
J.J. Wilcox, S:Better luck next time, kid. Honestly, Wilcox's night probably wasn't as bad as he'll get credit for. He made six tackles in one half of play, including one big hit on a punt return. Unfortunately, he looked exactly like a rookie in pass coverage – he was most notably torched by fellow rookie Chad Bumphis for 45 yards. Even when he was in position, he seemed to be a step too late. But that's all expected for a guy playing his first real game.
Matt Johnson, S – At this point, it doesn't really matter what he did in the first quarter and a half. The fact he limped into the locker room with a trainer is the lasting memory of Sunday's game for Johnson. Sure, he looked pretty solid back there when healthy. But his ability to play safety is only half of the battle for him. Staying healthy is the other and he couldn't do it again.
David Arkin, G – Although he's taken more snaps in practice than any other lineman, Arkin didn't look that polished from my press box view. While he might actually look different on tape, to me, Arkin had problems holding his block at the point of attack. The Cowboys ran the ball effectively but mostly on the left side, and not behind his right guard spot. Too early to say he struggled but he really didn't stand out in a positive manner. Then again, give him credit for playing well into the fourth quarter.
Gavin Escobar, TE – He brought in a short grab near the sideline for three yards and had another during the two-minute drill called back for a penalty. We didn't see any red zone targets or a particular ability to get down the field, but he did a decent job on the line. If he couldn't block, it's unlikely the Cowboys would have totaled 97 rushing yards in the first half. For a tight end renowned for his receiving ability, he seemed to do pretty well getting in the way and sealing the edge while he got his playing time in the first half. [embedded_ad]
B.W. Webb, CB – It's clear the Cowboys want to see all Webb has to offer. He returned a kick, a punt and started the game and the second half at cornerback. While neither return was one to remember, he did make a couple people miss on the punt return to get some positive yardage. The Cowboys let him play on the outside and cornerback, and while there were no game-changing types of plays from Webb, they also didn't throw his way much which is usually a good sign.
Travis Frederick - Was interested how he was going to play in his first game action in the NFL. In the contest he received work at both center and guard but was much more effective at center. I have always believed this is his best position but if it helps the overall offense, then he will continue to work at guard. I liked what he was able to do in the running game working with Ronald Leary and David Arkin. There were several blocks that he had to make where he reached a wide technique and handled it well. It appeared that there were times where he was uncovered on his pass sets and he was aware to help when necessary. Overall it was a solid night for the rookie that also had some nice work on the secondary level.
DeVonte Holloman - Was on the first tackle on the kick off team and was able to build on that. Played as the Sam linebacker and was asked several times to have to drop in the flat and be a part of the coverage. His coverage was on the mark and he was in position to finish plays driving on the ball or working underneath in coverage. His big play of the game was his 75 yard interception return for a touchdown when the ball deflected off the hands of Chad Bumphis and he was able to make the adjust on the move and secure the ball. In the running game, did notice one time where the ball was run at him and he was too far outside, then had to adjust back inside but he was a little late on the read. Overall, he was where he needed to be coverage wise in the scheme but will learn on the run.