The first pre-season game is in the books for the Dallas Cowboys. What have we learned about the team that we didn’t know before?
In this weekly segment called “The Star’s Five Corners” I’ll pick five in game events or occurrences that caught my eye and discuss them with you.
- Dez Bryant: If you saw that back-shoulder throw from quarterback Tony Romo to Bryant you know why I’m leading off with Bryant. It’s now obvious that Bryant has capitalized on the time that Miles Austin has missed. In previous seasons I’ve said that Austin is Romo’s favorite receiver, however this season I’m retracting that comment. Romo doesn’t make that throw if he doesn’t trust Bryant. Trust me on that one.
- The battle for the third receiver: Andre Holmes came into camp not ready to play and failed his conditioning test. Holmes was also not making progress in training camp as reports surfaced that he had “skillet hands” and was dropping more passes than he caught. Luckily for him he seems to have put those problems away and proved that having a 6’5” receiver is definitely a plus. Holmes closed the gap between fellow receiver Kevin Ogletree and himself with his three catches for 40 yards. The other receivers didn’t make much noise, but neither did the offense on any level.
- The Offensive line: We know the offensive line has been devastated by injuries and we know that it will take some time for things to gel. What we didn’t know was just how bad the back-ups really are. Phil Costa isn’t a great center by any means, but he’s also nowhere near as bad as the guys we rolled out there Monday night. I’ll cut David Arkin some slack, he has never played center in the NFL before. He did a decent job snapping the ball, but missed his block two times in a row, one leading to a Romo sack. Mackenzy Bernadeau, Ronald Leary and Doug Free all looked lost at times, with Free getting beat off the edge on more than one occasion.
- The Defensive backs: Brandon Carr didn’t get picked on last night, which is a good thing. Instead Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer took a shot to the opposite side of the field and got intercepted by Gerald Sensabaugh. It’s good to see Sensabaugh, moving around and showing his range especially since he is recovering from off-season knee surgery. Barry Church also looked good and showed good awareness in man-to-man coverage and enough discipline in holding up from delivering a big hit to a defenseless receiver.
- The defensive line and linebackers: The defensive line and linebackers seem to have the best depth they’ve had in years. Players that stick out from last night are linebacker Alex Albright and defensive ends Marcus Spears and Ben Bass. Albright was the team’s leading tackler with six tackles and three assists, followed by Bass who had four tackles and one assist, and Spears who had four tackles.
I expected the first pre-season game to be a little rough, but no one could have predicted a 3-0 final score. The Cowboys without a doubt have a lot of work to do along the offensive line and in special teams. One area of concern continues to be the amount of penalties this team draws. The Cowboys finished the night with 12 penalties for 91 yards and that’s unacceptable, I expect head coach Jason Garrett to address that issue before their next pre-season game.