Saturday, August 25, 2012
First quarter: Cowboys 17, Rams 3
By Calvin Watkins
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The first quarter of the Cowboys' preseason home opener against St. Louis is done. Dallas leads, 17-3.
* Felix Jones, Kevin Ogletree and Phillip Tanner were lined up to return the opening kick. It was Jones who took it back 24 yards. There was a nice hole there for him, but he didn't hit it with a burst.
* Nice job by Ogletree to catch a 25-yard pass against Janoris Jenkins. Ogletree's biggest problem is consistency. After making the catch, however, he dropped a pass on a third and 6 while running a slant. Ogletree is off to a strong start in his quest for the No. 3 receiver spot, but it's drops like these that raise concerns.
* Is Dwayne Harris moving up the depth chart? He caught touchdown passes of 61 and 38 yards from Tony Romo to give the Cowboys a 17-0 lead. Harris outran his defenders on Romo's first touchdown pass of this preseason. It had to be a miscommunication with linebacker James Laurinaitis covering Harris down the field. Harris also fielded a punt in the opening quarter and showed some wiggle. Romo's second TD pass was whipped toward Harris crossing the middle of the field. Harris slipped past two Rams' defenders and then dove into the end zone for the score.
* Bruce Carter started with Sean Lee at inside linebacker, but on the second series Dan Connor replaced Carter. On his first play, Connor allowed tight end Lance Kendricks to get behind him for a 26-yard reception. Conner is more experienced than Carter but isn't consistent in pass coverage. Connor was beaten by a tight end in last week's game at San Diego. It might be the difference between starting Carter or Connor when the regular season starts.
* There's a big difference between Felix Jones and DeMarco Murray. Murray makes people miss in space, and Jones' doesn't. When Tony Romo was moving in the pocket, he found Jones in the flat. He two defenders miss to get a 10-yard gain.
* Jay Ratliff, Anthony Spencer and Jason Hatcher, all recovering from injuries, made their preseason debuts. On his first series, Hatcher, the defensive end, came off the edge and sacked Sam Bradford for an 8-yard loss. Hatcher had a strong season last year, his best as a pro, and isn't in danger of losing his starting gig to any of the emerging young defensive linemen.
* You always want corners and safeties near the ball, something that didn't happen a lot last season for the Cowboys. We saw Brandon Carr and Barry Church converge on Kendricks for an incompletion. Carr and Church ran into each other on the pass play. Both were fine.