ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Will Grier looked and sounded as if his last act with these Dallas Cowboys was throwing for 305 yards with star quarterback Dak Prescott as his play-caller.
Bittersweet, indeed, as the fifth-year player said.
Grier had a hand in four touchdowns in a 31-16 win over the Las Vegas Raiders in a preseason finale Saturday night, a day after the Cowboys appeared to fill his third-string role by acquiring Trey Lance in a trade with San Francisco.
With Prescott in his ear, Grier completed 29 of 35 passes with two TDs and ran for 54 yards with two more scores in a likely Dallas swan song after two seasons behind backup Cooper Rush, and not taking a snap in the regular season.
Owner Jerry Jones said Grier was emotional before the game, knowing what the Lance trade meant for his future. Grier confirmed as much after the game, pausing several times to collect himself while answering questions from reporters.
“The hardest part on me is just leaving this place, to be honest,” Grier said. “Got really close with the team. That’s the toughest part about what we do. I’ve been through harder things, and I’ll rebound and be just fine.”
Damien Williams had a 24-yard touchdown run for the Raiders, who were playing a few hours after NFL rushing champion Josh Jacobs ended his contract stalemate by agreeing to a one-year deal.
The loss ended a six-game preseason winning streak for Las Vegas, which was tied with Pittsburgh for the NFL's longest after Baltimore's record 24-game run ended at Washington last week.
After Grier's 15-yard scoring pass to rookie running back Hunter Luepke for a 21-10 lead late in the first half, Prescott pumped his fists the same he way does after his own TDs and celebrated with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and coach Mike McCarthy.
When the game was over, Prescott was more subdued, pointing out that his thoughts were with Grier as he answered questions about the addition of Lance.
“It’s a tough situation, honestly,” Prescott said. “Love that guy to death over there. We’re going to welcome Trey and that’s what you do for a teammate. I’m a very selfless person, so that’s not going to change by any means. But my heart’s with that guy over there right now.”
Grier, whose only two regular-season games came as a rookie with Carolina in 2019, took every snap for the Cowboys with Rush entrenched in the role behind Prescott.
The starters sat for both teams, including quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo a week after his Las Vegas debut. Almost every Dallas starter didn't play at all in the preseason.
Many who saw extensive action have tenuous roster situations similar to Grier's, including Williams (six carries, 54 yards) and Dallas running back Malik Davis (10 carries, 42 yards).
The Cowboys sat Rico Dowdle and rookie Deuce Vaughn, an indication they are filling the two spots behind lead back Tony Pollard.
The same was true for the Raiders, who rested Zamir White and Ameer Abdullah after they spent all of training camp in the top two spots while Jacobs stayed away. Still, Williams left a strong final impression.
“He’s a pro, very physical,” coach Josh McDaniels said. “Just brings a tough mindset and attitude. A guy that brings some value to your football team in other ways as well. Fits in with our culture. Had a couple of really nice plays tonight, which was great to see.”
BY THE NUMBERS
Third-string Las Vegas QB Aidan O'Connell was 17 of 26 for 178 yards, and Kristian Wilkerson had 10 catches for 122 yards.
Luepke, who was Lance's teammate at North Dakota State, had 118 scrimmage yards (58 rushing, 60 receiving).
GETTING THEIR KICKS
Barring a late change, the Cowboys are set to start the season with unproven 28-year-old rookie Brandon Aubrey, who missed from 59 yards in the first half but made one from the same distance after the break.
Dallas had a kicking misadventure in the playoffs last season when Brett Maher missed four consecutive extra points in a 31-14 wild-card win at Tampa Bay.
The Raiders are set for their fifth full season with Daniel Carlson, who has a career accuracy rate of 88%. The 28-year-old made a 62-yarder on the final play of the first half and was 3 of 3.
Both teams open the regular season on the road Sept. 10. The Raiders play Denver, and Dallas gets the New York Giants in the first Sunday night game.
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