The Dallas Cowboys left much to be desired in their first preseason game. Josh Johnson and other Denver Broncos backup wideouts shredded the secondary. The offensive line was terrible, and the entire team was lazy and unorganized. Players have the chance to show that they are eligible for the roster in the preseason games. Some miss the chance. These three players must be indispensable Saturday against the Los Angeles Chargers. They could be cut from the roster if they don’t.
3. Cooper Rush
Will Grier may have seen his stock rise more than anyone else in Cowboys’ offense against Broncos. But he didn’t play a single snap. Cooper Rush, last year’s backup quarterback, was terrible for the first half. He completed 12 of 20 passes for 84 yard and one interception. For the fourth-year veteran, Ben DiNucci jumped off the bench to ignite the offense in the second period.
Rush is the only NFL player to have won, something Grier and DiNucci cannot claim. He was not as good as he appeared against Denver but he has shown competency and the ability to manage Dallas’ offense at times in his career. Rush’s 53-man roster status is at risk due to DiNucci’s preseason hot start and Grier’s excellence in training camp. Rush played in five games in 2021 with a single start. He had 422 yards passing and three touchdowns, one interception, and completed 63.8 percent of his passes.
Rush faced difficult circumstances during the preseason opener. Jalen Tolbert, the Cowboys’ only projected starting skill player, was on the field in Denver. The offensive line struggled to protect their quarterback. Rush could be ready to play in Los Angeles with more weapons and a better offensive line. He might have to after his performance in Denver.
2. Josh Ball
The Cowboys’ offensive team had a difficult night in Denver on Aug. 13. The position group did not have much success, except for clearing a path for Dallas running backs. Josh Ball was not the only player who struggled, but he may have had the most to lose.
Terence Steele went from being a depth piece to a bona fide starter within a very short time. Steele’s transition to full-time starter at right tackle has left a gap at swing tackle that the Cowboys front office believed they could fill with Ball.
Ball was sidelined last season due to injury. Jerry Jones and his company’s inaction in the marketplace for offensive tackles is a sign of confidence in Ball’s abilities.
These abilities were evidently lacking against the Broncos. Ball was penalized for two holding violations on the same drive during the third quarter. He also struggled to stop the Broncos’ pass rushers. Baron Browning quickly made light of Ball and he was able to bat down a pass in one rep.
Someone will have to step in and add depth to the Cowboys’ offensive lines. The front office will need to consider other options if Ball doesn’t prove he is capable.
1. Nahshon Wright
Josh Johnson was a shambles for the Cowboys throughout the first half of the Broncos match. Nahshon Wright wasn’t the only one who struggled. Kelvin Joseph had a poor night coverage-wise, and he made a mistake on Brandon McManus’ failed field goal attempt at halftime.
Because of the amount that Joseph has cost, Wright is more in trouble than Joseph. Wright could be in serious trouble if roster cuts are reduced to one of the two.
Wright’s troubles began early, when he was flagged for a holding violation during Denver’s first possession. Johnson again targeted Wright midway through the second half when he completed a 24-yard touchdown pass for Kendall Hinton.
DaRon Bland’s performance was another big blow to Wright’s position on depth charts. Bland was able to cover two yards against the Broncos and seven targets, and was willing to play physical.
It is likely that one of the three Josephs, Wright, or Bland will not make it to the 53-man roster. As things stand now, Wright could be the odd man out after Aug. 13.