NFL: Reset button: Bengals, Cowboys seeking fresh start
The Dallas Cowboys and visiting Cincinnati Bengals aim to distance themselves from disastrous season-opening losses when they meet Sunday in Arlington, Texas.
The Cowboys (0-1) defeat was compounded by the loss of Dak Prescott to a thumb injury on his throwing hand that will sideline him multiple weeks during their 19-3 setback to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday.
The Bengals (0-1), in turn, likely will see Joe Burrow spend time in a doctor’s office should he endure another seven-sack performance like he did in a 23-20 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Cincinnati hoped those days were a thing of the past after it addressed its offensive line in the offseason, including signing former Cowboys tackle La’el Collins to a three-year, $21 million contract.
Instead, the constant pressure contributed to a brutal day for Burrow, who tossed a career-high four interceptions in addition to losing a fumble.
“Not my best, obviously would like to take care of the ball better,” Burrow said Wednesday. “But as bad as I played in the first half, I thought I battled in the second half and put us in position to win the game. So I was proud of that, but obviously gotta start stronger.”
Burrow admitted he’ll need to keep tabs on 2021 Defensive Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons (two sacks vs. the Bucs) and cornerback Trevon Diggs (NFL-high 11 interceptions last season).
“He makes a lot of plays, with however many interceptions he had last year — it felt like a million,” Burrow said of Diggs. “He’s not afraid to take chances, he’s going to jump routes and you’ve got to be aware of who you’re throwing a 50-50 ball to when he’s covering them, because he’s going to make a play. I think he’s a former receiver at some point in his career. You’ve got to be aware of that.”
When given time to throw, Burrow connected with wideout Ja’Marr Chase (10 catches, 129 yards, touchdown) and running back Joe Mixon (career high-tying seven receptions, 63 yards) out of the backfield. He also hopes to welcome back Tee Higgins, who was limited in practice Wednesday after sustaining a concussion early in Week 1.
“He’s making good progress through the protocol,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said of Higgins. “I can’t 100 percent predict (Sunday) today. He cleared the hurdles so far he needs to clear. He’ll do some limited stuff, he won’t do the team action, but he’ll do routes on air and group install stuff.”
While Burrow looks to rebound from a difficult start, Cooper Rush will be making his first start for the Cowboys since stepping in for Prescott last season. Rush threw for 325 yards and two touchdowns in the Cowboys’ 20-16 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 31.
“You’ve got to go in, you’ve got to make things click as if (Prescott) was in there,” Rush said. “We’ll draw on that experience from last year big time. You know, got my feet wet last year and getting out there (last Sunday). We’ll regroup as a team and a group on offense.”
Rush’s touchdown passes in that game were reeled in by Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson Jr., who are now playing with the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins, respectively.
Pro Bowl wideout CeeDee Lamb, who led the Cowboys in catches (79) and receiving yards (1,102) last season, was limited to two receptions for 29 yards last week. In response, Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said Lamb has work to do.
“We’ve got to be better there. CeeDee (Lamb) has got to improve and work his way into being the No. 1 receiver. We think we can,” Jones said.
In addition to Prescott, Dallas starting left guard Connor McGovern (ankle), safety Jayron Kearse (knee) and defensive end Tarell Basham (thigh) did not practice on Wednesday. All four are expected to miss Sunday’s game, per coach Mike McCarthy.
–Field Level Media