Each weekend I provide 10 quick hits on the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys finally kicked off the preseason against the Los Angeles Rams, Dez Bryant is catching everything in sight and Jerry Jones is conceding the obvious in this edition of First and 10.
1. Thanks for stopping by here for post-game coverage of the Cowboys-Rams preseason game, which the Rams ended up winning, 28-24. Our Mike Fisher is with the team in L.A. and has plenty to add here starting now and continuing all weekend, starting with these quickie points:
*Travis Frederick has a new contract (COO Stephen Jones confirming with Fish the initial Rand Getlin report) designed to acknowledge him as "the best center in the game.'' Sounds about right, with a full six-year value of $54 mil.)
*Lucky Whitehead's had some issues with special-teams dropsies in Oxnard. But he started the game with a kickoff return for a TD, taking a load off of Dak Prescott ... and taking some make-the-roster pressure off himself, too.
*Dak Prescott? Impressive, as we will discuss below. But for now, a quote from Dez Bryant, who surprised by starting the game (and catching a TD): Dak's "not playing like a rookie. He is going to be very good. He's special.''
*Terrance Williams, Vince Mayle and Darius Jackson were skill-position standouts on offense. On defense, Mark Nzeocha, Shaneil Jenkins, Jack Crawford, Deji Olatoye and Anthony Brown had positive moments.
2. Nov. 18, 1990. That was the last time the Dallas Cowboys played a regular-season game at the Los Angeles Coliseum against the Los Angeles Rams. I had to go to profootballreference.com to look it up and be sure. Back then Bill Clinton was still the governor of Arkansas. In that game the Cowboys won, 24-21, behind Troy Aikman’s three touchdown passes, two of which went to Michael Irvin.
I must admit — it was nice to see pro football again in Los Angeles. I’m sure it means a lot to the pro football fans the Rams left behind in the mid-1990s. That’s one of those venues I still need to get to.
But if you’re hoping for a Cowboys regular-season game in L.A., well it’s going to be a while. Unless the Cowboys draw the Rams in their road NFC West game in 2018, the Cowboys won’t draw a road trip to L.A. in a game that counts until at least 2020. Knowing Jerry Jones, he’ll try and turn this into a yearly preseason meeting.
3. I think Dez Bryant, assuming he’s healthy, could have the season of his life in 2016. Every time I hit Twitter or watch camp highlights this guy is doing something special. Our Mike Fisher has had plenty of time to talk with Bryant in training camp and you get the feeling that not only is the body healed but the attitude is different, too. There’s an edge there and it’s not the usual “Dez” edge, either. It almost feels like after last year he feels he has something to prove, and a Top-5 receiver with a chip on his shoulder is bad news for NFL defenses.
Meanwhile, give this a look.
It really doesn’t matter how much he plays in the preseason, I don’t think. And yet ...
He did play. And he did special stuff again in helping Dallas to a 14-0 lead. To wit:
And then ...
"I just felt good getting back out there, making some plays,'' Dez said. "All the work we put in this entire training camp is paying off."
And by then ... the point was proven. Go sit down, sir.
4. The Dallas Cowboys are short 10 players right now between injuries and suspensions. The list? Running back Darren McFadden, linebacker Jaylon Smith, linebacker Damien Wilson (all on the active/non-football injury list); defensive tackle Maliek Collins, running back Lance Dunbar, tight end James Hanna and defensive end Benson Mayowa (active/physically unable to perform); defensive end Randy Gregory and linebacker Rolando McClain (reserve/did not report); and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who is practicing but must serve a four-game suspension to start the season.
On that list are five regular starters (McFadden, Mayowa, Gregory, McClain and Lawrence) and three other players you would expect to be contributors (Dunbar, Hanna, Collins). Wilson has value on special teams and Smith, if he were anywhere close to being ready to play, would at the least be an immediate platoon player.
I know there are players that are getting reps in their place, and I suppose that’s the only upside here. Plus, every NFL team is in this boat to some degree. But to simply say “next man up” when five starters and three other contributors are hurt as preseason begins is really missing the point here. There’s a reason some of these guys are starters and the guys that are getting their reps are not. And reps may not change that.
5. Earlier this week our Mike Fisher filed his latest 53-man roster prediction. He also put forth three players that, potentially, could be traded to get help in areas like backup quarterback or edge pass rusher. It’s part of the premium subscription for CowboysHQ.com and you can get one today by clicking here. Just $5 a month gets you premium access to CowboysHQ.com stories and message boards, one of the best Cowboys communities around.
Oh, and don’t forget to check out Fish’s story on a BIG what-if — “What if Jerry Jones sold the Dallas Cowboys.”
6. The NFL nixes the “Arm in Arm” decals the Cowboys had hoped to wear on their helmets in preseason games. The NFL gave no reason for the ruling, but they were likely all stupid and shortsighted. I guess Jim McMahon’s “Rozelle” headband really did spoil it for everyone.
7. I came into the LA game intrigued to see how Geoff Swaim plays this preseason. I thought he was a throwaway guy when the Cowboys took in the seventh round last year. Wait, I’m sorry — until the Cowboys traded UP to draft him in the seventh round last year. But in workouts thus far he seems to be turning into something more than just the blocking tight end I figured he would be. I mean, check out this reception from Thursday:
It’s the kind of stuff we’re used to seeing from Jason Witten. And don’t start. I’m not comparing the two. Witten has turned that over-the-middle route into a go-to-move for more than a decade. What I’m saying is that Swaim appears to be developing into something resembling a tight end that could be used occasionally in the offense. And when you consider that Gavin Escobar has been a complete disappointment and that James Hanna has missed much of camp with an injury, that’s an encouraging development.
I suspected Swaim would get some first-team playing time at some point because Witten won’t play much and the Cowboys will want to see what Swaim can do against front-line safeties and linebackers for future reference.
And what did he do? He's the guy with two drops of Dak underneath tosses. Oops.
8. It’s our Tweet of the Week:
File that under “Obvious, Stating the."
This isn't a "new'' story, any way you slice it. Jones has stated this before (he has twice in the last 16 years helped Fish write stories listing "My Biggest Regrets'' and in both cases, Jerry included the Jimmy divorce.
So here's what else is "obvious'': Ask Jerry this question every year, every month, every day ... and you will get yourself a "new big story.''
9. This week’s Great Moments in Headline Porn — “Laufenberg: Why Michael Vick is a realistic option as a backup QB for the Dallas Cowboys” from dallasnews.com.
Can we not go a day without hearing about Vick as a backup to Tony Romo? The guy has a career completion percentage of 56.2 percent and only cracked 60 percent as a full-time starter once (2010). I get that he’s a wildcard due to the running ability, but the Cowboys’ offense doesn’t employ running by the quarterback. When was the last time you saw Tony Romo go out on a designed rollout? Just knock it off.
Don’t get me wrong. They need a veteran backup. I think the Cowboys are flat wrong in waiting on that. But Vick isn’t the answer.
Ah, but might Dak Prescott be?
CHQ has been skeptical of the rookie suddenly being a legit No. 2. But he started the Rams game, played the first half, and finished 10 of 12 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns. His two incompletions came on drops. Not a bad debut for the rookie.
"Special''? Well, it's a start.
Said Dak: I think I did pretty well. The plan was to play as clean as I can and do exactly what the coaches asked me. ... I just went out there with a clear mind and had fun. I surprisingly wasn't nervous."
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