Patmon Among Star-Up Cowboys In Miami

The Cowboys fell 25-20 to the Dolphins in Sun Life Stadium on Saturday, but the stock of rookie cornerback Tyler Patmon and others rose and in Dallas' third preseason game.

Tyler Patmon, the undrafted free-agent rookie out of Oklahoma State, picked off two passes, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and forced a fumble that safety Barry Church recovered. Patmon was responsible for all three of the Dallas defense's takeaways on the evening. He also had a team-high five tackles.

"I told Patmon, I said, 'You better get me [an interception],'" wide receiver Dez Bryant said to the Dallas Cowboys TV broadcast.

"And he got me one tonight."

The defensive back, who signed with the club in May, listened to the instruction of wiser veterans throughout the course of the game. (After the pick-six, he brought the ball to Dez. "Here you go!'' he said.) And he didn't only get turnovers; he might've gotten himself a job.

Cornerback Brandon Carr, who had missed most of training camp and two preseason games due to the death of his mother, played 17 snaps on two drives during the entire first quarter and only registered one tackle. When the Cowboys and Dolphins changed sides after the quarter ended, the coaches replaced Carr with Patmon. The rookie took Carr's place at left cornerback at the beginning of the second quarter, and the seventh-year pro coached up the undrafted rookie from the sidelines.

On a third-and-3 from the Dallas 36 on the same possession Carr started, Patmon helped finish the drive when he tackled Miami tight end Dion Sims and jarred the ball loose. After a scrum, Church came out of the pile with the team's first turnover.

The Dolphins began the third quarter with possession and their first-team offense drove the ball inside the Cowboys 20. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill sought receiver Brian Hartline, but Patmon read Tannehill's eyes, squared up, and leaped into the air for the interception.

Midway through the fourth quarter, when the Dolphins inserted their backups, Patmon again read the eyes of the Miami quarterback -- this time veteran Matt Moore -- and intercepted a quick-out intended for receiver Armon Binns and took it nine yards back for a touchdown to put Dallas up 20-11 with 7:50 to play. However, the defense gave up a Moore touchdown pass and an Orleans Darkwa touchdown run to create the final decifit.

The emergence of Patmon is much-needed given the dearth of healthy and eligible cornerbacks heading into Week 1 against the 49ers at AT&T Stadium. Veteran Orlando Scandrick will miss four games due to suspension. Former first-round pick from 2012 Morris Claiborne has not played a down in preseason, and veteran Sterling Moore is also recovering from injury.
While it is premature to say Patmon could challenge Claiborne for a starting spot, it is reasonable to believe he challenges B.W. Webb, Terrence Mitchell, and the other backup defensive backs for a roster spot. Webb missed the game with a hip flexor, and seventh-round cornerback Terrence Mitchell has struggled with holding and illegal contact penalties the entire preseason.

While the first-team offense struggled (“That concerned me,” owner Jerry Jones said of the three sacks of Tony Romo in the first half), “other kids also jumped up here, including running backs Joseph Randle (on special teams) and Ryan Williams. Patmon's secondary partner Ahmad Dixon, the hard-hitting rookie safety, was flagged for a nasty blow issued late in the game.

"If I gotta take a fine every week for me to play ball,'' a defiant Dixon said, "I'll do it.''

The will is there for some of the youngsters like Dixon and Patmon. But taking heed to the advice of team leaders Carr and Bryant puts kids like them in a strong position to make the 53-man roster come September.

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