Highlighting Dallas Cowboys' Best Preseason Performers So Far
The Dallas Cowboys are only halfway through their preseason schedule despite it feeling like the regular season starts tomorrow. Although there is still plenty of time to evaluate the roster, some players have stood out among the rest so far.
Dallas suffered its latest preseason defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens. Even though the team couldn’t grab its first W of 2014, it did have a few bright spots.
As we head into the backstretch of summer and the preseason, let’s discuss the Cowboys’ best preseason performers thus far.
I have to talk about this man first because it almost seems too obvious not to. Dez Bryant is without a doubt the Cowboys’ best player and he shows it every time he walks onto the field.
The Pro Bowler sat out the preseason opener in San Diego, so you knew he was coming to play against Baltimore. He did just that. Although Bryant caught just three passes in the box score, he did so much more.
On a play that was brought back for offensive holding, Bryant tapped his toes and nearly made an incredible catch along the sideline. On another reception, the receiver was ruled down, however, after watching the replay it’s clear he never touched the ground and could have potentially gained another huge chunk of yards.
His best and most dominant play occurred during his touchdown grab. Tony Romo sort of just lobbed the ball in Bryant’s direction when No. 88 stopped his route and soared into the sky to make the catch. The defender never had a chance.
The next big performer is someone who many were optimistic about heading into camp. So far, Rolando McClain has been fairly impressive for someone who missed a lot of football these past few years.
When Jerry Jones brought the linebacker into camp, it seemed like a desperate move. However, the 25-year-old has been so impressive that he now is taking the first-team reps at middle linebacker.
Like Bryant, McClain missed the first game, so this was a big opportunity to show his skills. The linebacker led the team with six total tackles including a forced fumble and pass deflection to get his defense off the field.
The defensive unit overall just looks better when McClain is in the middle compared to Justin Durant. The Cowboys will be better off if both can be on the field at the same time.
Gavin Escobar is someone who the coaching staff expects to be a big contributor this season. The 6’6” tight end is a problem to cover by creating mismatches wherever he goes.
Despite getting injured Saturday, the second-year Escobar caught three catches for 58 yards, including one for 37 yards. He hurt his right shoulder during the game but returned to practice on Tuesday.
While Escobar had only one reception in the opener, it went for 26 yards.
Dallas’ offense has plenty of firepower but a few players who remain unknown to the rest of the league. Escobar will become a household name sooner rather than later.
A surprising player offensively has been free-agent signing Ryan Williams. The former second-round selection has been productive for the Cowboys this preseason and is making the decision on the No. 3 back a difficult one.
Williams didn’t do much against the Chargers on the ground, but this week opposite Baltimore he ran five times for 36 yards and a touchdown. He also added two more catches for 13 yards.
ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon reported coach Jason Garrett saying, “He helped himself, there’s no question about that. He’s a good runner. He and I have had some conversations over the course of training camp, and sometimes guys just need to get the weight of the world off their shoulders and just go play and play with a passion and a spirit.”
If Williams can duplicate his performance in the third preseason game, the coaching staff will have a very tough decision to make. The fact that Williams or Joseph Randle will most likely be cut gives credit to the depth on this roster at running back.
The biggest surprise on this list is recently acquired defensive tackle Zach Minter. The 23-year-old just joined the Cowboys and immediately showed his worth on the field.
After just one day of practice with the team, Minter recorded four total tackles including two sacks and one forced fumble against San Diego.
DallasNews.com’s Brandon George discussed Minter’s performance with defensive end George Selvie. Selvie said, “He came out and made a big splash. We need playmakers like that. I did the same thing last year, so I got excited for him.”
The Cowboys need as much help as possible on defense so hopefully Minter can continue to improve and make this team.