Cowboys vs. Steelers: First look at new stars in 16-3 loss

Rico Dowdle #34 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
Rico Dowdle #34 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

It feels great to type these words again. Football is back for the Dallas Cowboys. In the NFL’s annual Hall of Fame game, America’s Team took on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Canton, Ohio. Even though Dallas lost 16-3, the preseason matchup gave a great look at some unfamiliar players who never made it to the field last year and this year’s rookie class.

Fans should be pleased with what they saw from the Dallas starting defense. The Steelers’ first drive ended with a fumble, and rookie linebacker Micah Parsons fell on top of it for the recovery. For a team that struggled on the defensive side of the ball last season, the new defense led by defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is fast and looks to continue causing turnovers like they have all training camp.

All eyes were on quarterback Garrett Gilbert, wondering if he’ll be the backup QB heading into the season. In preseason game number one, Gilbert ran the offense efficiently. He ended the night completing 9 of his 13 passes for 104 yards while converting some key third downs. Besides the near interception, fans should feel a slight sigh of relief when it comes to the backup quarterback conversation for now.

With Dallas down 6 to 3 in the third quarter, rookie cornerback Nahshon Wright showed up by not allowing a deep pass down the field and had a quick tackle to stop the Steelers on third down. If Wright continues to make plays like these in the preseason, he should get some meaningful playing time this year and prove his doubters wrong.

At the end of the game, quarterback Ben DiNucci got the chance to run a two-minute offense. He had some impressive side-arm throws that showed growth from his only start against the Eagles in Philadelphia. DiNucci also had a great run on 4th and 19 to keep the drive alive to end the game. His production in the preseason will tell if he’s worth having on the final 53 man roster.

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If this game showed the fanbase anything, Dan Quinn’s defense will be an improvement as players seem more confident in their assignments. Even the offense was able to move the ball effectively with many of the team’s backups playing. As a whole, the Dallas Cowboys look to travel back to Oxnard and clean some things up before preseason game number two against the Arizona Cardinals Friday, Aug. 13.