We made it. We’re officially past the last Sunday without football for 22 weeks. What an offseason and year 2020 has been so far. However, some form of normalcy returns with Week 1 of the NFL season. As for the Cowboys, they open their season traveling to Los Angeles, where the Rams will be revealing their brand new $3 billion stadium. Here are a few key Cowboys players to watch in Week 1.
Can Ezekiel Elliott play as well as he did last time against the Rams?
The last time the Cowboys played against the Rams, Elliott’s performance was superb. He had 24 carries for 117 yards, two touchdowns, and added three receptions for 43 yards to complete a solid day. The same can’t be said for the matchup before that. In that game, Elliott had 20 carries for 47 yards and two catches for 19 yards. In 2019, when Elliott eclipsed the century mark on the ground, the Cowboys had a record of 6-1.
Of course, Elliott’s performance will be something to watch closely all season, but even more so in Week 1. The Rams ranked 11th in the NFL in points per game. Controlling the time of possession will be key for the Cowboys. Additionally, the Rams allowed 113.1 yards per game to opponents rushing attacks, placing them 19th in the NFL. If the Cowboys can control the time of possession and utilize Elliott efficiently, they can walk away 1-0 on the season.
Will Trevon Diggs be able to replace Byron Jones?
The second-round pick will see his first NFL game action on Sunday. The last Alabama cornerback that experienced success was Marlon Humphrey. With the departure of Byron Jones via free agency, Diggs will be asked to step up and help a secondary that could struggle.
As a rookie corner, he will definitely have his issues this year. Chidobe Awuzie, the best corner on the roster, hasn’t practiced fully since August 24th. The Cowboys secondary may be short-handed, and the rookies’ performance will, without a doubt, be under the microscope.
The Rams have one of the strongest passing attacks in the NFL. They ranked fifth in passing yards per game and had two receivers go over the 1,000-yard mark in 2019. Sean McVay made Kirk Cousins look good in Washington, and he has done similar things with the Rams offense and Jared Goff. Will Diggs be able to help the Cowboys secondary slow down the Rams passing attack, or will it be too much for the rookie?
Can Leighton Vander Esch help lead this defense and stay healthy?
Yes, another defender as one of the Cowboys players to watch in Week 1. Vander Esch had a bit of a down year in 2019, but that wasn’t unlike the rest of the team. Now, as a MIKE linebacker, Cowboys fans will be watching Vander Esch closely.
He clearly has the talent, and now with a new defensive coordinator, a bounceback year is expected from the young linebacker from Boise State. His performance will be key for the Cowboys to limit the explosiveness of the Los Angeles Rams.