The Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Rams opened their 2016 preseason schedules in front of nearly 90,000 screaming fans at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday night. It was the first home game for the Rams since they moved the franchise to St. Louis in 1995 and at times it felt more like a playoff game than a preseason opener.
The Cowboys chose to rest starting quarterback Tony Romo on Saturday night in hopes to keep him as healthy as possible for the regular season. With the gruesome injury to backup Kellen Moore earlier in training camp, Dallas’ 2016 fourth-round pick Dak Prescott got the start with Jameill Showers serving as his backup.
Lucky Whitehead would return the opening kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown to get the Cowboys out to an early 7-0 lead. Prescott would then hit Dez Bryant on a 10-yard touchdown pass to put Dallas up 14-0. The Rams would respond with a rushing touchdown from Benny Cunningham to cut the lead to 14-7, but Prescott would then hit Terrance Williams for a second-quarter touchdown and the Cowboys would go into the half with a 24-7 lead.
While the Rams would come back to defeat the Cowboys in the second half, it was an impressive showing from the first-team unit for Dallas and where we’ll start with out five takeaways from last night’s game.
Dak Prescott Didn’t Look Like A Rookie
When the Dallas Cowboys selected Prescott out of Mississippi State, the plan was to keep him as the third-string quarterback and let him develop behind Tony Romo for a few years before eventually taking over the reigns. With the injury to Moore, Dallas has been forced to play Prescott as the backup to Romo out of necessity. On Saturday night, Dak didn’t look anything like a rookie as he completed 10-of-12 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns for Dallas.
Dak Prescott sizzled, Jared Goff fizzled. https://t.co/BVIAoCK7O0
— USA TODAY Sports (@USATODAYsports) August 14, 2016
Dez Bryant Looked Like His Old Self
In addition to Romo’s collarbone injuries last season, Bryant broke his foot in Week 1 against the New York Giants and was dealt with the effects of the injury the entire season. With Dez at less than 100 percent, the Cowboys’ offense struggled mightily in 2015. Against the Rams, Bryant made two incredible catches for the Dallas offense, including the aforementioned 10-yard touchdown.
It looks like Dez Bryant is already in mid-season form: https://t.co/ZARjebMRGW
— ESPN (@espn) August 14, 2016
Lucky Whitehead Provides Spark In Return Game
The Dallas Cowboys’ return game failed to produce a kick or punt return for a touchdown in 2015 so it was a welcomed sight to see Whitehead take the opening kickoff to the house. Whitehead adds an element of speed to both the return game and the offense and could be headed for a breakout season.
— ✭Cowboys News✭ (@DemBoyz_News) August 14, 2016
Defense Finally Forced Turnovers
The Dallas Cowboys’ defense finished last in the NFL in 2015 as the team only forced 11 total turnovers. On Saturday night, the Cowboys recorded two interceptions, one by defensive back Deji Olatoye and the other by linebacker Mark Nzeocha. It was a welcomed sight for Dallas defensive coordinator, Rod Marinelli.
Shaneil Jenkins Records Lone Sack
The Cowboys only recently inked Jenkins to a contract and the former Shepherd University defensive end immediately paid dividends as he brought down Jared Goff in the second quarter on Saturday night. David Irving and Ryan Russell started at the two end spots for Dallas as the team tries to try to find replacement for DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory who will be suspended to begin the season.
Overall, it was a solid showing for the Cowboys, especially the first unit. Obviously, Dallas head coach Jason Garrett would’ve preferred to emerge with a victory, but it there were a lot of positives to take away from the game for the Dallas Cowboys.
[Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]