Cowboys notes: Alex Tanney has quiet night under center

Posted Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Alex Tanney did not exactly make the Dallas Cowboys’ decision tougher.

The No. 3 quarterback might have played his way back into practice-squad consideration Thursday night, completing 17 of 31 passes for 177 yards with an interception.

He did not lead a touchdown drive and was sacked six times. He took three sacks on a 2-minute drive at the end of the game that reached the 11-yard line but left the Cowboys attempting a field goal.

Tanney had the disadvantage of playing behind the second- and third-string offensive lines. He was under pressure frequently and took hits, and he also got dragged down by the facemask late in the fourth quarter.

On a more positive note, Tanney did show elusiveness in the pocket and gave his receivers a chance at some balls.

Running back battle

Phillip Tanner got the start and a chance to build his case for the No. 3 running back spot behind DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar.

Tanner carried on the first six plays, getting 35 yards. It was his only series, but it reinforced what he showed in the previous game against Cincinnati — that he can handle a heavy workload and be productive. He had 14 carries for 39 yards against the Bengals after Murray was benched for fumbling.

Tanner, who played only the first series against the Texans, finished the preseason with 37 carries for 158 yards and a 4.3 average despite not getting a carry in the third preseason game at Arizona.

Rookie running back Joseph Randle got his most extended action of the preseason, playing on every drive except the first one, to showcase his side of the argument in his competition with Tanner.

He finished with 10 carries for 47 yards, including an 18-yard run that was the longest of the preseason for the Cowboys.

Last week, he had 16 carries for 66 yards against Cincinnati.

Rushing defense

The Cowboys played five preseason games and only once allowed less than 100 rushing yards.

The rushing defense is one of the biggest areas of concern for the Cowboys as they head into the season opener Sept. 8 against the New York Giants.

The Cowboys’ undersized and thin defensive line took a hit in the first training camp practice when defensive end Tyrone Crawford tore his Achilles’. Defensive tackle Jay Ratliff is on the PUP list to start the season, and defensive end Anthony Spencer has not played since knee surgery in the first week of camp.

The Miami Dolphins ran for 111 yards, the Oakland Raiders had 116, the Arizona Cardinals gained 105 and the Bengals got 89. Houston racked up 190 yards Thursday.

Close but no score

The closest the Cowboys came to the end zone was in the second quarter when Alex Tanney sidestepped the pass rush and threw a pass to the back of the end zone. Tight end Gavin Escobar caught it, but a slight bobble cost him as his second foot landed out of bounds after he gained control.

It would have been a 12-yard touchdown. Instead, the Cowboys settled for a field goal.

The second-round pick scored a 10-yard touchdown against the Cardinals. The 10-yarder was his longest catch of the preseason. Escobar finished with 11 catches for 64 yards and a touchdown.

Another special gaffe

The Cowboys got a turnover on special teams, but they had to give it back.

Texans punt returner Dennis Johnson made contact with the punt, and the Cowboys recovered. But a holding penalty on Dante Rosario nullified the play, and the Cowboys had to re-kick.

It continued a preseason of poor special teams play for the Cowboys, who had a field goal blocked, two fumbled punts, two unnecessary roughness penalties, a punt returned for a touchdown and two 50-plus-yard kickoff returns.

On the star

Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye got worked up about the rivalry with the Cowboys.

After his fourth-quarter interception against Alex Tanney, the rookie from South Florida celebrated at the midfield star, earning an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.


Defensive tackle Sean Lissemore left the game with a concussion. The Cowboys already have lost defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (groin) for the first six games after Dallas placed him on the PUP list.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407 Twitter: @calexmendez

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