Prior to the game on Sunday, I was not very optimistic about the Cowboys’ Special Teams unit.
They lost Dwayne Harris, who was one of, if not their best player covering kicks, in Free Agency. While they had also struggled mightily in the preseason giving up numerous big plays, including a blocked punt and return for a touchdown. However, after seeing Sunday’s game, the young players on special teams gave me hope that they will find success this season.
On Chris Jones’ first punt of the night, Corey White was forced to motion inside to help protect, leaving only one gunner, Lance Dunbar, to get down the field. Jones delivered a 54-yard punt and Harris fielded it at the 6.
On the play, Danny McCray and Damien Wilson were in good position to make a stop, forcing Dwayne Harris to run laterally. The Cowboys, however, stayed disciplined and remained in their lanes allowing Kyle Wilber to smother Dwayne Harris for a 1-yard return (Giants were also called for holding on the play).
In the return game, the Cowboys were limited with their opportunities.
Cole Beasley was returning punts and was never given any room to wiggle finishing with 1 attempt for 3 yards. Lance Dunbar, aside from a questionable decision to take the ball out of the endzone and getting tackled at the 10, had a nice night returning kickoffs. Lance had 3 attempts for 70 yards with a long of 32. However, continue to look for Lucky Whitehead to possibly get some opportunities returning kicks in the coming games.
Overall, I was impressed with the way the Cowboys coverage unit played Sunday night. I believe they have found a gem in Keith Smith to help replace Dwayne Harris. Along with Smith, Kyle Wilber and Corey White had good nights as well.
The speed and youth of the Special Teams unit has me optimistic this could be a top unit yet again in the NFL.