2022 Cowboys rookie report: Damone Clark’s star is shining bright

2022 Cowboys rookie report: Damone Clark’s star is shining bright

The Cowboys weren’t dominant on Thursday, but they did enough to get the win, and by a comfortable margin. Not everyone was perfect in this game, and that certainly applies to the rookie class as well. Let’s explain how each of them performed.

Tyler Smith was coming off the best game of his career, so it was no surprise to see him take a small step back this week, especially on a short week. Smith tied for the team lead in pressures allowed in this game, with three total, but did not allow a sack. It’s the eighth time in nine games that Smith has held an opponent without a sack, an impressive feat for a rookie.

Smith suffered a concussion late in the game, moving to left guard after Connor McGovern moved to center in place of the injured Tyler Biadasz. Smith played the entire fourth quarter there, and will likely do so again next week with Biadasz away for the regular season finale.

Welcome, Sam Williams! After missing last week due to a car accident, Williams returned to the field and had 26 defensive snaps, five less than DeMarcus Lawrence. Unsurprisingly, Williams picked up where he left off, tying Dante Fowler with three on the day for the second-most pressures.

Williams also saw ten snaps on special teams, which is typical for him. But there were two occasions where Williams was just about to block a point. Much like his defensive pressures, Williams had an impact, even if he didn’t quite get home.

Jalen Tolbert was inactive for this game.

Unfortunately for Jake Ferguson, he got some camera time early in the game for the wrong reasons. Ferguson was tasked with blocking giant defensive lineman Mario Edwards on a run play, and Ferguson had no chance. The play erupted over the loss, and the broadcast made sure everyone knew it was Ferguson’s fault.

Ferguson made up for it a little later, though, showing some nifty footwork to catch his lone goal on a screen and take it seven yards. That was one of three drives by Ferguson, with 20 of his 23 snaps coming as a blocker. Ferguson was solid on 19 of those block reps, as he has been all year, but it was unfortunate that he was called for one poor rep.

Matt Waletzko is on injured reserve.

DaRon Bland has emerged as a ball hawk for the Cowboys recently, and it was obvious Josh Dobbs and the Titans took notice. Bland received just three targets Thursday and all three were against different players.

Bland allowed three catches, but two of them were caught behind the line of scrimmage, while the other was stopped for zero yards after the catch. Of those three catches that went for a first down, only one also came on a screen play. However, it was a quiet night for Bland, as the opposition decided not to test the leading team in the entries.

Damone Clark had the best game of his young career this week, and it’s easy to see that the rookie is getting more confident every week. His seven hits Thursday were tied for second most on the team. Clark also led the team in run stops and had the lowest average tackle depth of any linebacker with multiple tackles.

Much of Clark’s struggles since playing a bigger share of the snaps have stemmed from his inexperience in diagnosing run plays. But this game saw Clark play fast, decisive football, and once he gets the read, he flies like a missile. It’s exciting to see Clark in top form as the playoffs approach.

Devin Harper is on injured reserve.

Oh, Peyton Hendershot. He’s been a good rookie story all year, carving out a role in this offense as the third tight end and having a couple of standout moments. But Thursday against the Titans was easily his worst game. Like Ferguson, Hendershot only ran three routes (blocking 11 of his 14 snaps) and saw just one target.

Unfortunately, Hendershot mis-threw his lone target and turned what should have been an easy 18-yard reception into an interception. It is worth noting that it rained for most of the first half of the match, but that does not excuse Hendershot’s fatal error.

Markquese Bell has been inactive for this game.

When the Cowboys made Tony Pollard inactive, it looked like Malik Davis would get another chance to shine. And he shined, as Davis led the team in rushing with 39 yards on 10 carries. His 3.9 yards per carry was double that of Ezekiel Elliott on the night. Davis also added 23 receiving yards on two catches.

Depending on what happens this Sunday in terms of the NFC East race, Davis may have another chance to make some plays in the regular season finale. That so many fans will be excited is a testament to how good Davis has been as an undrafted rookie.

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