Five Dallas Cowboys to watch in Week 3

DALLAS - The Dallas Cowboys are coming off one of their more embarrassing losses in recent memory with a 42-17 defeat at the hands of the Denver Broncos. Credit should be given to the Denver defense for completely shutting down Ezekiel Elliott and forcing the offense to become one-sided. The Dallas Cowboys offense wasn’t built for their franchise quarterback to attempt 50 passes.

As the old saying goes “one game at a time.” So, the Dallas Cowboys move onto their opponent for Monday Night Football against the Arizona Cardinals. This is the first preseason rematch for the Dallas Cowboys as they will also play the Los Angeles Rams and the Oakland Raiders down the road. Here are the five players to keep an eye on when the boys take the field Monday.

Ezekiel Elliott

  • As mentioned previously, Elliott is coming off his worst football game since he threw his coaching staff under the bus as a member of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Nine touches isn’t anywhere near where he or the Cowboys want to be. The Broncos have an outstanding defense and executed their gameplan perfectly.
  • This is the first regular season matchup for Elliott against the Cardinals so there is not history to lean on. Look for the Dallas Cowboys to get going early with the run game to establish their passing attack.

Dak Prescott

  • So far Prescott hasn’t looked like the rookie that took the league by storm in the 2016 season which led him to Rookie of the Year honors. Also no one expected the Cowboys to have success when he is averaging 40 or more passes per game. His game is about the quality of passes and not the quantity.
  • During the preseason in limited snaps, Dak look poised. He was making tight window throws and showing good accuracy. We haven’t seen much of that since the start of the season. A better running attack than he had a week ago will do wonders for Prescott. He needs to get the intermediate passes early on and set up the long passes to attack this defense.

La’el Collins

  • If you read Pro Football Focus then you would think that Collins is having a terrible time at offensive tackle this season. Which couldn’t be any further from the truth. He showed his ability to get nasty up front with Jason Pierre Paul in the opener.
  • The following week Collins drew the assignment of Von Miller, one of the league’s elite pass rushers. Miller eventually got to Prescott for two sacks but at the time the Cowboys were passing on most downs after being down by 11 at halftime.
  • Collins will now focus another pass rusher with a knack of getting to the quarterback in Chandler Jones. This matchup could be one of the keys to Dallas getting back into the win column.

Jaylon Smith

  • The Cowboys had to force Smith into a starting role with the injury to Anthony Hitchens and he has done well. This is especially so for a guy that everyone wondered if he'd ever play a snap in the NFL. Through two games he has 17 combined tackles. That ties him for the team lead with Sean Lee.
  • Smith is averaging a tackle every 6.1 snaps in the NFL. Compare that to Sean Lee who is averaging a tackle every 7.8 snaps. Smith will likely remain the starter at middle linebacker for the foreseeable future and he needs to continue improving upon each game as he builds confidence in his knee.

Orlando Scandrick

  • Scandrick has played limited snaps so far this season after breaking his hand in the opener against the Giants. He has played a total of 10 plays but when he can play, he is a key cog in the defensive backfield often defending the slot. The Cowboys secondary has been decimated by injuries but he is expected to ramp up practice this week.
  • Should Scandrick play against the Cardinals, the defense will get a much needed boost. Chidobe Awuzie is dealing with an injury, Nolan Carroll is in concussion protocol and Jourdan Lewis saw his first action in a tough assignment against Denver. Scandrick's presence negates the need for Byron Jones or Xavier Woods to line up at corner. 

 

Which players will you be keeping your eye on this Monday night? Share 'em with Patrick on Twitter @DraftCowboys.

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