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Cowboys Wishlist: 3 Hopes vs. Chargers In Preseason Week 2

The Dallas Cowboys were ridiculed for their preseason performance vs. the Broncos Week 1. Here are the three things that would turn the narrative around in Week 2.

The Dallas Cowboys were a target of ridicule from fans and the media following their 17-7 preseason loss to the Denver Broncos last Saturday.

The Cowboys had a penalty problem all day vs. Denver after leading the league in penalties last year. Additionally, receiver depth is more important than ever following injuries at the position, yet rookie receiver Jalen Tolbert had a lackluster performance at Denver. Not encouraging to see out of the now expected No. 2 receiver week 1 for Dallas.

If Dallas wants to shake the doom-and-gloom from week 1, here are the three things they'll have to display versus the Los Angeles Chargers this upcoming Saturday:

1) The team can be penalty-free

It seems like all that's been talked about following Denver, but it's a huge issue.

Penalties were a common theme for the Cowboys last season, as they led the league with 141 on the season. Additionally, Dallas had 14 penalties in their wild card playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers back in January. Now it's a different season, but the same problem for the Cowboys.

And yet, there is a sentiment out of team headquarters that suggests maybe it’s not all so bad - that it's a "learning experience.''

Maybe.

The Cowboys were flagged 17 times in their 17-7 preseason loss to the Denver Broncos on Saturday, the most any team has been penalized in a preseason game since 2019.

"I don't like the number of penalties," Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said after the game. "To be clear, I talked about it at halftime and talked about it briefly in there, we'll take care of it and we'll all look at it."

If Dallas wants to prevent panic, they'll have to play disciplined football on Saturday.

2) The young receivers can produce

Tolbert was targeted seven times, resulting in two catches for seven yards and no touchdowns. Overall, it was a lackluster performance for Tolbert, who had a dropped pass on a would-be fourth-down conversion in the second quarter followed by a false start two possessions later.

However, it wasn't all bad from Dallas' young receivers, as receiver Simi Fehoko showed out. At Denver, Fehoko posted two catches for 18 yards and a touchdown on just two targets.

Fehoko's touchdown was also Dallas' lone score of the day.

Outside of Fehoko, receiver KeVontae Turpin had two catches for 12 yards, while receiver T.J. Vasher had just one catch for 11 yards.

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Fehoko's performance was encouraging, but Tolbert and the other young receivers will need to produce at the Chargers in order to calm panic around the receiver position.

3) They have a legitimate No. 2 edge rusher

With defensive end Randy Gregory being signed by the Broncos earlier this offseason, Dallas needs somebody to step up across from DeMarcus Lawrence on the edge. The Cowboys selected defensive end Sam Williams in the second round of this year's draft with hopes of him being that guy.

Williams was largely quiet at Denver aside from one hit on Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien as he was throwing.

Still, Williams failed to record a single tackle on the day.

Another player who it is hoped will make an impact across from Lawrence this season is edge rusher Dante Fowler. Dallas signed Fowler to a one-year deal earlier this offseason, and Lawrence has stated his confidence in the newly added edge rusher.

“I know that he’s coming in here to help us win," Lawrence said. "He’s coming to get better, that’s all I can ask from a guy."

Fowler made his presence known at one point on Saturday, forcing a Broncos' turnover on downs. Broncos quarterback Josh Johnson rolled out to the right on a rollout pass before Fowler hit him as releasing on fourth-and-2. The ball fell incomplete into the turf due to the pressure.

Plays like this are what Fowler will need to build on this Saturday. However, it was still a rocky performance overall, as Fowler was benched for the remainder of the game as a sort of punishment.

"That's a discipline penalty," McCarthy said after the game. "Frankly, that's why Dante was done for the night after that. We can't have that."

The violation? The newly acquired edge-rusher got flagged for a personal foul when he tried to push an opposing player off a pile. The goof helped Denver score a touchdown in the second quarter.

Now, it isn't even a guarantee that Fowler makes the roster.

Williams, Fowler and the other edge rushers in Dallas will need to show concrete production on Saturday. Otherwise, the fans and media will have every reason to question the team's depth at that position. ... and collectively, in these three spots.

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