13 takeaways from Thursday: Ezekiel steals the show

This time around, it was Ezekiel Elliott's turn to steal the show. On a night that included a scary Tony Romo injury, the Cowboys should still be smiling wide about their first-round draft pick.

In just seven carries, Elliott showed off his full arsenal. The No. 4 overall pick showed vision, picking the right holes. He showed power, running through Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor. And Elliott showed an incredible burst to get to the edge. He's a rare running back who combines power, speed, hands and the ability to block. (Just look at his effort on the play Romo was hurt.)

Sure, Elliott is running behind an offensive line that turned Darren McFadden into a top-five rusher. He has one of the best jobs in football and the skill set to take full advantage. That should only take pressure off Romo and lead to numbers that remind Cowboys fans of Emmitt Smith.

Here's what else we learned from Thursday's two games:

  1. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett both indicated that Romo's back injury wasn't serious.

"I was just in shock," Jones said. "I had my mind on, 'Come on, Tony, get up.' Said a few prayers right there."

While those prayers appear to have been answered, it's not a great sign that Romo only lasted three plays on his third preseason drive before his first back issue. Why should there by confidence he lasts 16 regular season games?

It's worth noting that Romo's desire to re-enter the game doesn't guarantee that he'll feel great tomorrow. NFL Media's David Carr relayed a story from his NFL career where he played through a back injury during a game only to stiffen up the following day and miss three weeks of action. This storyline isn't going away.

  1. Romo's injury gave us more time to watch rookie Dak Prescott, which is always welcome. While Prescott didn't light up the scoreboard, completing 17 of 23 passes for 116 yards, he continued to show impressive traits. Prescott completed a number of throws under duress, showing that he's not just the product of the Cowboys offensive line. He also had good pocket movement to extend plays and piloted a two-minute scoring drive, ultimately scoring ten points in the first half with the starting unit. He didn't make big mistakes against a great defense.

Prescott has completed 78 percent of his preseason passes for 454 yards, 5 TDs and a 9.1 YPA. That's Preseason MVP stuff.

  1. Russell Wilson entered Thursday without a preseason touchdown drive. He left after 24 points in two plus quarters. While two touchdowns came against the Cowboys backups and their bankrupt pass rush, Wilson involved all four of his top wide receivers. Paul Richardson amazingly makes Tyler Lockett the second-fastest receiver of the group. Wilson showed great anticipation, something that highlights the scheme continuity and receivers that he's grown up with.
  1. The Awakening continues. Christine Michael rushed for 58 yards on seven carries. His big runs came against backups, but his decisiveness and burst is obvious against any quality of competition. He's earned a big role to start the season after 157 yards on 24 preseason carries. Rookie CJ Prosise, meanwhile, made his preseason debut as the third down back with the starters.
  1. Brandon Browner's return to Seattle might not last long. He was playing with the third-string Seahawks defense and is a candidate for release.
  1. The Dolphins offense is already a lot more fun to watch under coach Adam Gase. They played no huddle for most of the first half against Atlanta, which included 29 Ryan Tannehill passes. It was not uncommon to see four wideouts on the field for Miami. Tannehill, who had a nice read-option run and went through his progressions well, played better than his numbers (155 yards on 29 throws) indicated. His interception came on a deflection.
  1. It took 14 snaps for Arian Foster to enter the game for Miami, but he wound up splitting first team reps with Jay Ajayi. Foster made a nice push for the starting job, executing a great cut on the goal line for a touchdown. While he only rushed for 10 yards on five carries, Foster looked natural on passing downs with two grabs for 20 yards.
  1. Ajayi was more hesitant, but perhaps that's because the Dolphins were much better pass protecting than run blocking. This is what happens when you start four left tackles on the offensive line. The Dolphins' running backs combined for 42 yards on 23 carries. It's a bad sign when Tannehill and quarterback Zac Dysert were the leading rushers.
  1. Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (ankle) and linebacker Jelani Jenkins (ankle) both left with injuries, although Gase said Suh was "OK" after the game.
  1. For the second straight week, Kenny Stills was Tannehill's favorite target. Stills is in position to curb that DeVante Parkerbreakout we expected. Meanwhile, Jordan Cameron had two more drops and could start losing playing time.
  1. Matt Ryan's funk from 2015 continues. He missed too many throws and threw a ghastly interception on the goal line, which was reminiscent of his red-zone struggles of a year ago. He finished with 129 inefficient yards on 22 throws.
  1. The Falcons continued to rotate Tevin Coleman in the starting unit along with Devonta Freeman. Both runners didn't find much room up front.
  1. Falcons fans worried about the team's pass rush won't feel better after this one. Vic Beasley was very quiet. Defensive end Adrian Clayborn needs an MRI on his shoulder. To make matters worse, first-round pick Keanu Nealleft with a knee injury.

We'll be back Friday night for five games.

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