The first week of preseason can often be ugly, but this was extreme for the Dallas Cowboys. They sat the majority of their starters and the players who did suit up appeared as though they were also taking the night off.
Dallas was beaten in every phase of the game by the Denver Broncos (who also embarrassed them in their recent scrimmage), but the worst part of the loss was how undisciplined they were. After hearing Mike McCarthy harp on penalties all offseason, the Cowboys were flagged an unbelievable 17 times for 129 yards.
While McCarthy deserves to be a dud for continuing to lack any discipline whatsoever, we will spare him for now, since it was mainly the reserves who drew the flags. With him being placed on notice, we turn our attention to the players who stood out as studs and duds in their loss to Denver.
Cowboys studs and duds from preseason Week 1 against the Broncos
Stud: Malik Davis, Running Back
In the second half, Malik Davis was out there giving it his all. The undrafted free agent from Florida ran for 51 yards on just eight carries and added 16 more on three rushing attempts. He ended up being responsible for the majority of the offensive yards, which could help him make a run at the third running back spot.
Dud: Cooper Rush, Quarterback
Cooper Rush became a folk hero in 2021 when he led Dallas to a win over the Minnesota Vikings. He might have lost a lot of that goodwill on Saturday.
Rush struggled throughout the first half for Dallas. He nearly threw a pick on his second pass attempt while trying to force it to rookie Jalen Tolbert. Rush’s pass hit Michael Ojemudia who dropped what would have been a pick-six.
On their next drive, he converted a third-and-12 by hitting Dennis Houston, but it didn’t matter since that series ended with him being picked off on fourth-down. Rush tried to throw under pressure and P.J. Locke jumped in front of the intended target, which was again Tolbert. Rush seemed to try and force his throws, especially when looking for the rookie.
He ended the night with just 80 yards on 20 passing attempts and led Dallas to no points. With Will Grier already breathing down his neck, this outing was exactly what he didn’t need.