For the second preseason game in a row, the Dallas Cowboys rested the majority of their starters. Against the Los Angeles Rams, the team focused on exploiting mismatches in the passing game. As a result, players like Rico Gathers and Cooper Rush were able to stand out. On defense, Taco Charlton recorded his first preseason sack, taking down Sean Mannion in the first half of the game. Furthermore, rookie safety Xavier Woods was one of several standout performers on a defense that forced 5 fumbles. While the team lost 13-10, there were still notes to take away from the game. Here are a few:
Rico Makes Pico Out of the Rams’ Defense:
Second-year tight end Rico Gathers was one of the standout performers in the Hall of Fame Game. One of the interesting storylines entering Saturday’s game was if Gathers could repeat his performance. The former Baylor basketball star was able to build off his impressive 2017 debut. He finished with 47 receiving yards and scored his second touchdown of the preseason. Gathers was able to make contested catches all night, while showing he can be a focal point of the offense going forward.
Kellen Moore Struggles to Move the Offense:
The team, particularly offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, continues to put faith in Kellen Moore as the backup to Dak Prescott. However, Moore failed to show the kind of talent that can lead an NFL offense. The quarterback missed several throws on the night, and checked down on several of his pass progressions. Moore finished the contest 8-of-17 passing for 69 yards. While his intelligence and competitiveness can’t be questioned, the gunslinger faces questions on if he can be the backup to Prescott in Dallas.
Cooper Rush Makes His Case for a Roster Spot:
While Kellen Moore struggled to move the ball, un-drafted rookie Cooper Rush had a more productive outing. Entering the game at halftime, the Central Michigan alum showed impressive composure in the pocket. Rush went 9-of-11 passing, including an 8-for-8 start, for 104 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown pass was impressive, as he threaded the needle to Rico Gathers for the 25-yard strike. Rush looked better than Moore and Luke McCown, and it will be interesting to see if the rookie can pressure the veterans for a roster spot.
Taco Tuesday, on a Saturday:
There were whispers of frustration about first-round draft pick Taco Charlton’s debut against the Arizona Cardinals. Whatever whispers there were about Charlton were silenced for the night. The defensive end was able to get free from his blocker and take down Rams’ quarterback Sean Mannion at the 1-yard line. The play gave Charlton his rist professional sack. Charlton used his patented spin move to free himself, and explode upfield into the unprotected quarterback. Taco finished the game with a quarterback hurry, a quarterback pressure, and 3 tackles. His improved play will come in handy with the impending suspensions of David Irving and Damontre Moore. Furthermore, his presence can help ease the pressure for Tyrone Crawford to rush back from his injury.
While the team may have lost the game to the Rams, there were plenty of pros to take away from the contest. While there were standouts and busts on the team, one important development development came out of the game. There were no major injuries to report from the game. This is certainly good news, and the team can use as much good news as they can get. Looking ahead, the team will look for consistent contributions from running backs Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris. Both backs will be looking to fill the void left by Ezekiel Elliott‘s 6-game suspension. Both players will get their next opportunity against the Indianapolis Colts, who travel to AT&T Stadium for their pre-season matchup on August 19th.