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ARLINGTON, Texas – Here is the tale of three Cowboys from Preseason Game No. 1, played here at AT&T Stadium Saturday afternoon turned evening with a blest roof over their heads before immediately heading back to the highly more palatable temperatures of Oxnard, Calif.

One for the first time in NFL competition kicking an oblong ball?

One playing a position in a game for the first time ever, no matter the level, middle school, high school or college?

These are what made this preseason game the Cowboys sat 25 veteran players, plus MIA All-Pro guard Zack Martin, making those without pads numbering 26, worth watching despite Jacksonville’s 28-23 victory. Remember, while the Jaguars played their starters for two series, the Cowboys played just seven guys in more than their fourth NFL season, and two of those were necessary special teamers, the punter and deep snapper, and another was a backup quarterback.

And the storyline of Mike McCarthy transitioning from walk-around head coach to running this offense and calling plays for the first time in his now fourth year with the Cowboys seemed, at least for this game, a sub-plot.

And if not for two of their lost fumbles, one setting up a Jags touchdown drive at the Cowboys 42 and ensuing two-point conversion, and the other wasting what would have been a first-and-goal at the Jaguars four, costing them another potential seven, those totaling 15 points. They lost by five.

“Preseason games are different,” McCarthy said. “You know you’re so focused on your players and your guys and just keeping them in friendly concepts. Especially with the focus on our young guys.

We focus on our play and our young guys.”

That is why if those not among the announced crowd of 81,204 watched through all four quarters, they might have come off their seats, maybe even started prancing around as Dak Prescott did down the sideline with 13:39 left in the game after the Cowboys grabbed their only lead of the game, 16-14.

That is where we begin, with those at AT&T still paying attention started chanting Doooce with the ball at the Jaguars four, suggesting McCarthy call on the diminutive one, the 5-foot-5 Deuce Vaughn, having accounted for 53 yards on 11 second half touches, including a nine-yard reception to the four.

McCarthy obliged, and darn if the vertically challenged one his entire football career, once again was defying the odds, scooting off between right guard and tackle, powering through a potential arm tackler to score a touchdown.

Not just any touchdown, but sort of a proving-ground touchdown that the sixth-round draft choice has a chance of belonging in the NFL, Dak celebrating the occasion by happily skipping down the sideline to greet the Deuce coming off the field.

“He rolled in there and ran, you know, conceptually everything that the other guys ran too,” McCarthy said. “So, you know, I think that speaks volumes about him, but I thought he had a heck of a night, was a great, great introduction to the NFL.”

Same goes for the kicker Brandon Aubrey, the former high school, college, MLS soccer player. Sure, he kicked two seasons in the USFL, his foray into real football, but this was his first NFL competition, and guessing before the most folks watching him ever play in a sporting event as he is trying to convince the Cowboys he can handle these most valuable kicking chores.

First, Aubrey boomed five kickoffs for touchbacks. Good deal, kickoffs are important. And proving this was his first NFL game of any sort, after his first kickoff, Aubrey went back up-field to retrieve the kicking tee, just like he would in the USFL but not realizing in the NFL someone is assigned after the play is over to run out to grab the tee. He had to be told he was playing with the big boys now.

Next the 28-year-old rookie hit his first NFL field goal, preseason notwithstanding, a 29-yarder. And the only kick standing in the way of a perfect debut was nailing just two of three of those 33-yard extra points. But he struck the ball solidly all night. Even in pregame warmups when watching him hit from 51 and 53 yards in his first time kicking in AT&T Stadium.

Aubrey has the leg. Now it’s about consistency, and if we consider he went three for four on all his placekicks, that finishes off the week going 29 for 33, the vast majority of those into that punishing Oxnard wind.

And then, there is the three-man operation to consider, two newcomers (Aubrey and snapper Trent Sieg) joining holder Bryan Anger, McCarthy remarking about the operation afterward, saying, “But when the operation gets clean, you know the rhythm and the accuracy and consistency improves. That’s been my experience.”

And to complete this first-time trifecta we give you John Stephens, a wide receiver all through his football career, from middle school, high school, through five years of college, playing his first game Saturday at tight end. In fact, at his Pro Day workout at Louisiana in Lafayette, he worked out as a tight end but said it was the Cowboys who put him through some tight end drills.

Well, the undrafted rookie who has been flashing in training camp, threw down some lightning in this game, catching five passes for 56 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown reception. Stephens is 6-6, 245 but certainly a guy worth watching and if he keeps this up someone crowding that tight end room stocked with the likes of Jake Ferguson, Luke Schoonmaker, Peyton Hendershot and Sean McKeon could be the odd guy out.

Think about it, not easy to transition to a new position period but let alone in the NFL. Now part of Stephens’ transition to tight end is learning how to block on the line of scrimmage. He’s working on that phase of the game, but that’s a big man in the red zone, probably too big for a safety to cover and too fast and agile for a linebacker.

“What a camp he’s having, he’s impressed since day one,” McCarthy said of this new-found jewel. “He was out there competing and was having fun which is what you want. You know it is a game. I thought he played with a pretty clear mind today. He made some obviously nice plays; he’s having a heck of a camp.”

Deuce, too. Same with Aubrey.

All three working on defying them long odds facing them, so far turning those staggering questions into forget about it reality.