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Machota: Cowboys preseason premiere - Surprising part of Pollard’s debut, Taco’s interesting postgame comments

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  • Machota: Cowboys preseason premiere - Surprising part of Pollard’s debut, Taco’s interesting postgame comments


    By Jon Machota 4h ago

    SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Of all the rookies making their preseason debuts for the Cowboys Saturday night, Tony Pollard was the most intriguing. With Ezekiel Elliott still in Cabo San Lucas, Pollard started in the backfield.

    He carried the ball four times on the opening possession in Dallas’ 17-9 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. Then, somewhat surprisingly, his night was over. The Cowboys had seen enough.

    The fourth-round pick rushed for 16 yards, with all of his runs coming between the tackles. Pollard is known as more of a change-of-pace back than a bell cow. He’s a gifted athlete who excels while in space and causes mismatches in the passing game.

    “That’s what a lot of people don’t expect me to do,” Pollard said of his rushes up the middle. “A lot of people think I can’t do that. I just like proving people wrong and just showing my ability.”

    During his pregame radio interview, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones compared Pollard’s smooth running style and quick feet to Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Lance Alworth.

    After the game, Jones said he saw a confident player who is capable of “carrying the whole load.”

    “He’s a great back,” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said. “He’s somebody that wants to learn a lot and wants to know everything he can about the offense. And he’s excited to get the ball in his hands. In that short period, he tells me, ‘Don’t forget about me out there.’ I was like, ‘I only threw the ball three times, I got you.’

    “That tells you he’s a guy that wants the ball. He’s excited for his opportunity, and he’s going to make the most of it. … He’s a special player.”

    A new offense?

    If you were hoping to see significant offensive changes under first-year offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, preseason game No. 1 didn’t exactly quench your thirst.

    Touchdowns continued to be elusive. Dallas has now gone three consecutive preseason games without reaching the end zone. The Cowboys’ last preseason TD was scored by Terrance Williams and the extra point was kicked by Dan Bailey.

    Jason Garrett, however, didn’t seem concerned about a team that struggled in the red zone last season doing the same again Saturday night.

    “I don’t think you can carry over anything from last year to this year’s team,” Garrett said. “The makeup of the team is very different. … I don’t know that it’s constructive to go back and make those comparisons. What you have to do is evaluate this team right now and what we need to do to get better.”

    Jerry Jones said he liked how Moore called the game, saying his only disappointment was that they didn’t score at the end. Jones also noted that he was looking more at individuals than the overall offensive unit.

    Prescott only played the opening series, leading the Cowboys on a nine-play, 65-yard drive that was capped by a 25-yard Brett Maher field goal. Prescott completed all four pass attempts, including one to himself on a ball that was tipped.

    “I just wanted to show that I could catch, too,” Prescott joked. “At that point, I figured it was time to get down. I showed off the hands and then got down to protect myself.”

    Prescott targeted Michael Gallup on three of his passes. Gallup caught the first for 16 yards. The second drew a pass-interference call that gained 26 yards. The third was a three-yard connection across the middle of the field.

    “It was good to play somebody else,” Prescott said. “Obviously we have a lot of time, a lot of practice under our belts, going against each other, but there’s a lot to learn from. It’s the first preseason game, it’s hard to say from just the first view at it or the sideline view at it. There’s a lot of things we’re going to be able to clean up and learn a lot from. It will be good tape for us.”

    The first-team offense: QB-Prescott, RB-Pollard, WR-Gallup, WR-Randall Cobb, WR-Tavon Austin, TE-Blake Jarwin, LT-Tyron Smith, LG-Connor Williams, C-Travis Frederick, RG-Xavier Su’a-Filo, RT-La’el Collins.

    Taco thoughts

    Taco Charlton provided the most interesting postgame interview.

    Dallas’ 2017 first-round pick is arguably the most scrutinized player on the roster. Dallas has built a reputation of hitting on its first round draft selections. Charlton, who started Saturday and is coming off his best training-camp practice, has not produced like a first-round talent up to this point.

    “A lot of people don’t like me as is,” Charlton said. “I gave up trying to win that game. No matter if I do good, they’re going to say it’s bad. If I do bad, they’re going to say it’s terrible. I don’t try to win that game no more, that Twitter war, that social media war, or whatever. I gave up on that.”

    Charlton believes his best spot is at left defensive end. Two-time Pro Bowler DeMarcus Lawrence is Dallas’ starting left end. Charlton played more right end last year, something he believes contributed to a decrease in production. He finished 2018 with one sack after having three during his rookie season.

    “Last year, I really wasn’t asked to pass rush, that was Randy [Gregory’s] job,” Charlton said. “I was a run stopper. I played base end and then Randy would come in and rush the passer. That was just basically my responsibility. I had more responsibility to pass rush my rookie year. We look at it this way, I feel like I got better from my rookie to sophomore year, I just didn’t get as many opportunities as I got.”

    Charlton said he and his agent have recently discussed his NFL future. He currently has two years remaining on his rookie contract.

    “We know my value and everything like that, so everything is good,” Charlton said, “I’m here right now working hard with this team. I will show up every day to work hard, healthy, hurt, whatever may be. Shoulder hurt, I still show up every day to work hard. Right now, I’m here to help this team out and win games.”

    Charlton added: “You got to play smart. My agent is good at what he does. He sets the mentality. He lets me know what needs to be done and we go off of that. I show up every day, and I work hard for this defense. I love my brothers out here. I love the Hot Boyz.”

    Mike White struggles

    As Cowboys players made their way to the visiting locker room beneath Levi’s Stadium late Saturday night, one player’s body language stood out from the rest.

    You didn’t have to see the final drive. The face of second-year quarterback Mike White told the story. He was frustrated. White had four chances from San Francisco’s 4-yard line to potentially tie the game in the final seconds. Four incompletions later, Dallas was forced to exit with the loss.

    White entered with 5:06 remaining in the third quarter. He ended up playing five series, finishing 9 of 20 for 87 yards through the air and a 57.7 passer rating. He also lost a fumble while attempting to run after the pocket collapsed.

    “There were some things going on with that third group that we have to clean up as we go, whether it’s an assignment thing, a technical thing that might have impacted protection, not only the guys up front but other people involved in protection,” Garrett said, assessing White’s performance. “It was a good experience for Mike White. To get out there and take snaps and play and handle some of the adversity he did. I thought he did a really good job on that last drive, getting that ball back with not a lot of time on the clock and have to go down and score a touchdown.

    “I thought he made some big throws. He gave us a chance inside the 10-yard line four times to score the game-tying touchdown. I think that’s something he can build on.”

    Cooper Rush remains backup favorite

    Jerry Jones said he was “pretty pleased” with how Rush played in relief of Dak Prescott. If the roster had to be trimmed today, Rush would be the backup quarterback. He’s currently battling White for that spot.

    Rush played six series, completing 16 of 26 passes for 142 yards and a 76.1 rating. His best series was his first. On three consecutive pass plays, Rush connected with Cedrick Wilson for 15 yards and then 11 yards before finding Blake Jarwin wide-open behind the linebackers for a 33-yard gain. Dallas settled for a field goal after the offense sputtered on the next three plays.

    “I thought from the naked eye on the sidelines, Coop handled himself well,” Garrett said. “We moved the ball. I thought he made some good throws in the game. We had a good two-minute drive before the half he handled well, led the group, made good decisions, gave us a chance to kick that field goal. I think all of those are positives. We’ll go back and look at plenty of things we have to clean up, but I liked his presence out there, like how he led the team, like how he operated and thought his decision-making was pretty good.”

    Travis Frederick’s return

    The Cowboys’ Pro Bowl center was back anchoring their offensive line Saturday night. Frederick played in his first game since being diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome last August.

    “It was a good feeling to be out there, playing with the guys and being a part of the game,” Frederick said. “I am trying to treat everything just like a normal preseason and a normal training camp. That is what this was tonight, a good first drive for us.”

    Regardless of any other changes to the Cowboys’ offense, Jerry Jones said having Frederick back, along with a bulked-up Connor Williams, gives him reason to believe that side of the ball should be improved.

    “He’s one of the smartest guys, if not the smartest guy in the NFL,” Prescott said of Frederick, “so when you have him on your side, and have him back, it’s going to help this offense.”

    Kicking questions

    Cowboys kicker Brett Maher has been inconsistent early in training camp. He has routinely gone 5 of 6 on his field goal attempts in practice, and missed two field goals while the team was running its two-minute offense last week.

    In the preseason opener, Maher was given the opportunity to kick four field goals. He made three from 25, 31 and 40 yards. His miss sailed wide right from 35.

    “We were obviously disappointed in the third kick,” Garrett said. “The other ones seemed to be pretty good. So we’ll keep evaluating him, we’ll keep giving him shots. But he’s been a good kicker for us.”

    When Jerry Jones was asked to assess the Cowboys’ kicking situation, he responded: “I thought it was good. That’s the only way we scored tonight.”

    The miss didn’t bother Jones?

    “Well, you’d like for him to hit them all, but I’m glad he got the ones he got,” he said. “I think we’re kind of looking at just continue as he gets in this camp, we’ve got a lot more camp days, we’ll continue to evaluate him. In his case, we’ll evaluate last year, and this year to sum it up. Don’t have any different opinion about him after the game than we had before the game. He’s got a good, strong leg. He’s made some and, of course, he’s missed some.”

    Rookie review

    Wide receiver Jon’Vea Johnson dropped two passes early, both on slants from Cooper Rush. He rebounded with a couple of nice catches late in the first half.

    “He creates some energy, and the quarterbacks know that,” Jerry Jones said. “The ball seems to find its way to him because the quarterbacks know that he can make a play.”

    Johnson has a realistic shot at making the 53-man roster, but the undrafted rookie free agent has to be more consistent.

    “Like Coach Garrett said, this is a building block for the first-time guys, so just take everything in, take the coaching and everything in, get ready and prepare for the next game,” Johnson said. “I’m a pretty level-headed guy. I don’t overwhelm myself with it. I had just little first-game jitters, being in the uniform, being in an NFL stadium and stuff like that.”

    Sixth-round pick Donovan Wilson and undrafted rookie free agent linebacker Luke Gifford each intercepted a pass Saturday. The pair of picks are notable for a defense that only came up with nine all last season.

    “Just preparation,” Wilson said of his INT. “I seen the formation, and it was the same thing that they were running. My vision on the quarterback helped me break on the ball.”

    Second-round pick Trysten Hill admitted he was happy to play more snaps than expected. Hill rotated in at DT with the first unit early and was still on the field late in the game.

    I think I did a good job of just playing football,” Hill said, “Going out there and if plays weren’t going my way, just still being a factor in the game.”

    Other notables

    Rookie DE Jalen Jelks had Dallas’ only sack. Kerry Hyder provided good pressure on several occasions. Rookie defensive linemen Joe Jackson and Ricky Walker were disruptive. Chidobe Awuzie had two consecutive outstanding plays, making a tackle at the line of scrimmage and then diving to knock away a deep ball.

    “It was just good to hit somebody else, honestly,” Awuzie said. “Just being able to really feel that sensation of a tackle again. It felt good.”

    Overall, the starting defense looked good in their two series of work. The first-team defense was as follows: Left DE-Taco Charlton, Right DE-Dorance Armstrong, DT-Antwaun Woods, DT-Daniel Ross, LB-Jaylon Smith, LB-Leighton Vander Esch, CB-Chidobe Awuzie, CB-Anthony Brown, CB-Jourdan Lewis, SS-Jeff Heath, FS-Xavier Woods.

    Cowboys captains during the pre-game coin flip: Dak Prescott, Travis Frederick, Jaylon Smith, Jeff Heath and Chris Jones.

    WR Cedrick Wilson left the game in the third quarter after taking a nasty hit as a defenseless receiver. He was moving around well in the locker room after the game and appeared to be in good spirits

    Jerry Jones said rookie LB Luke Gifford’s ankle injury is a “high sprain and pretty significant. He’ll be out a little while.”

    When asked if anything has changed with contract talks involving Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott or Amari Cooper, Jones responded, “No. Not at all. We’re just a game and a day closer to getting back to Dallas.”
    2016 DCC LOTY Fantasy Football Champion

  • #2
    Originally posted by Iamtdg View Post
    Jason Garrett, however, didn’t seem concerned
    No one on this team is ever concerned .. about anything. Kicking game? Not concerned. Five straight pre-season losses? Not concerned. Third straight pre-season game without a TD? Not concerned. No Zeke? Not concerned. No sense of urgency .. ever.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by bbgun View Post

      No one on this team is ever concerned .. about anything. Kicking game? Not concerned. Five straight pre-season losses? Not concerned. Third straight pre-season game without a TD? Not concerned. No Zeke? Not concerned. No sense of urgency .. ever.
      You wouldnt either if you had his kind of job security.
      #Fire Garrett

      Comment


      • #4
        Taco is an excuse maker and finger pointer.

        Hey douchenozzle. If they are asking you to play the run and giving you less opportunities, there's a reason. They don't do that with guys that are performing.

        If you want more and better opportunities, make the best of what your given and make plays instead of whining.

        The sad thing is Taco played well last night. His comments should reflect a guy who is self aware and motivated to get better. Not a guy who thinks his problems are caused by everybody but himself.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by bbgun View Post

          No one on this team is ever concerned .. about anything. Kicking game? Not concerned. Five straight pre-season losses? Not concerned. Third straight pre-season game without a TD? Not concerned. No Zeke? Not concerned. No sense of urgency .. ever.

          Amen.

          Captain of the Titanic: "We are merely stopping to take on a little ice."

          Garrett: "We just have to go back, look at the tape, and try to get better."

          Comment

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