Going into the game, you already knew who was going to be the most discussed Dallas Cowboys player. First-round rookie Tyler Smith has been scrutinized since the moment he was drafted at 24th overall.

The scrutiny has decreased as Smith has put together a solid training camp in Oxnard, but this was the first time plenty of fans got to see the projected starting left guard of the Cowboys.

Early in the game, Smith made a statement when he buried his man in pass protection. Not only did he get his hands on the defender first, but he finished the play by taking him to the ground.

Against bull rushes, the Cowboys’ rookie won pretty much every rep. Smith showed his power when pulling in the run game and showed consistently displayed good traits getting to the second level. Both in getting there and in generating movement.

But before I come off as biased, don’t worry. We’re not inducting Tyler Smith into Canton yet.

It was far from a perfect performance as he missed some blocks, including one in a play that resulted in Cooper Rush getting hit and throwing a pick.

Smith was also called for two holds, although the first one was highly questionable.

Overall, the Cowboys’ starting left guard had a more positive half than he did a negative one. We’ve known all along Tyler will go through a learning curve and fans should expect him to have some inconsistencies throughout the season.

The good news? He’s showing us he can win with his strengths: explosiveness, hand strength, competitive toughness, and straight-up nastiness.

A few more Cowboys notes…

Penalties: Preseason game or not, this has been one of Mike McCarthy’s points of emphasis heading into the season. To have 17 penalties for 129 yards against your team (with at least another one being declined) is utterly unacceptable. Some were weak calls, I understand. But the Cowboys committed a lot of them.

Noah Brown WR2?: Surprisingly, Brown didn’t play on Saturday. Perhaps that means he has secured his spot as WR2 behind CeeDee Lamb given he’s not dealing with an injury, at least not that we know of. Other than that we didn’t learn much from Jalen Tolbert, Dennis Houston, or other wide receivers because…

Cooper Rush’s stock is down: Will Grier didn’t have to play to win the battle Saturday night. Rush went 12/20 for 84 yards. He had to target Tolbert six times to get the first accurate pass in there.

Featured image via Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports