Combined practices caused the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Bronx to sit for the majority of the Novices in their pre-season opener on Saturday, creating an opportunity for second-team players to show why they could contribute in 2022. Josh Johnson has stated in his case that he still belongs in the league, even if the The Broncos are the 14th team he has played with in his career.
Starting with Russell Wilson (rest), Johnson threw two touchdown passes in the first inning to lead Denver to a 17-7 win, which was nowhere near the end result. Johnson’s notable pass was a 40-yard kick to Brandon Johnson, son of former MLB player Charles Johnson, as the receiver blocked the pass down the left sideline to set up Denver’s attack. Johnson then found Seth Williams to drop 1 yard three later to put the Broncos ahead 7-0, a lead they wouldn’t compromise.
Johnson also found Kendall Hinton to score 24 yards in a rainbow touchdown pass to give Denver a 14-0 lead. He went 16 of 24 for 172 yards and two touchdowns in the first half (rated 120.2) before Brett Rippian excused him for the remainder of the contest.
Cooper Rush started in Cowboys instead of Dak Prescott (the rest). He finished 12 of 20 for 84 yards with an interception, which came on a fourth pass down in the first quarter in the Denver Territory. The Cowboys didn’t get on the board until the fourth quarter on a 12-yard pass from Ben Dinucci to Simi Vihoku with 4:56 left. Dinucci went 9 of 16 for 112 yards and went down in the loss.
While many novices haven’t played, there are still some storylines that have come out of the competition. Below you’ll find some tips from Saturday’s pre-season game.
The Cowboys seated 20 starting players for Saturday’s game, including Dak Prescott, Ezequiel Elliott, Tyrone Smith, Zach Martin, Siddi Lamb, Tryvon Diggs, Mika Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence. Russell Wilson didn’t make his Bronco debut either, as Denver also rested the majority of the Novices in the opener.
The Cowboys and Broncos participated in joint training this week, which is why the rookies did not play in this.
Broncos major injury
One of the key players to play for the Broncos was quarterback Jonas Griffiths, who left the game in the first minute due to a left elbow injury. Griffith was only played twice, with coaches holding his elbow as he walked under his power.
Griffiths has emerged to factor in the Broncos’ defensive plans, but this injury appears to matter. Alex Singleton, who signed with Denver this off-season, will get a chance as Griffith’s injury prognosis is uncertain.
Sanctions cases are still in Dallas
It doesn’t matter if the Cowboys are playing first or second team, Mike McCarthy’s side still has massive penalty problems. The Cowboys were penalized nine times in the first half for 65 yards — that’s after leading the NFL with 127 last season (7.47 per game). Dallas also ranked second in the league with penalty areas, compared to 1103.
The Cowboys showed signs that they were still undisciplined, taking 17 penalties for 129 yards on the night. Pre-season editorial or not, that’s not acceptable.
Who is No. 2 QB?
Cooper Rush started in Prescott’s place and underperformed. Rush played in the third quarter and finished 12 of 20 for 84 yards with an interception as Dallas failed to score in his seven possessions. The Cowboys didn’t have a drive beyond 34 yards and didn’t get past Denver’s 38-yard streak when Rush played.
Ben Dinucci wasn’t much better, though, throwing a touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter, putting Dallas on the board. What does Dallas do if reserve play remains poor? Will the Cowboys seek a status upgrade or roll with Rush? Does it even matter if Dak Prescott falls?
Rush has two more games to enhance this uninspiring performance.
The Josh Johnson Show
Johnson started with Russell Wilson and was brilliant in the first half as the No. 2 quarterback. The Broncos are Johnson’s 14th team in the NFL, however, the veteran caller in everything seemed to be part of someone who wanted to stay.
Johnson went 16 of 24 for 172 yards and two touchdowns in the first half (rated 120.2), showing zip on his passes and excellent drive for his receivers. There are better options for a backup quarterback in the league, but Johnson does the role well.
The 36-year-old should be on the NFL’s roster in 2022. Whether he picks Bronco Johnson or Brett Rebian as his second quarterback will be decided within the next two weeks.
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