For the better part of two weeks we’ve been reading training camp reports out of Oxnard about how center Travis Frederick has looked like a seven-year veteran, how the Cowboys' four top picks have been taking first team snaps, how DeVonte Holloman and Brandon Magee are mixing it up as linebackers, how Joseph Randle is running with authority (and how he scored two TDs yesterday), and how Eric Rogers keeps making plays.
Those are just some of the players out of the Dolphins. If previous years are anything to go by, the Cowboys starters probably won’t play more than a drive, leaving a lot of playing time for the rookie class to show that they belong on an NFL roster.’ 21-strong rookie class of 2013, most of whom will get an opportunity to showcase their talent in the upcoming preseason opener against the
And that is what pre-season games are all about: extended tryouts for down-roster players and rookies in real game situations. As such, enjoy the season opener for what it is - and don’t try read too much into the team record at the end of pre-season.
Unlike last year, when several of the 2012 draft picks - Morris Claiborne, Matt Johnson and Danny Coale - had to sit out the season opener with injuries, all seven draft picks from this year's rookie class are healthy. In fact, all 21 rookies are healthy, and outside of Toby Jackson (signed yesterday), every single one of them could see some action against Miami on Sunday. But the rookies are just some of the players worth watching,
There are rookies from last year looking to move up the depth chart, free agents looking for a spot on the roster, and Cowboys veterans looking to defend their positions.
Out of all of these, here are a couple of players that might bear watching extra carefully on Sunday:
- Whether you'd rather see more of Tony Romo or not, QBs Nick Stephens and Alex Tanney will share the bulk of snaps under center. Can they get a drive going on the field, can they lead a scoring drive or two, and is either of them worth holding on to for the Cowboys?
- J.J. Wilcox and Matt Johnson (who is basically still a rookie after redshirting his first NFL season) will be the second team safeties. Are either of them all they're cracked up to be and can they hold the secondary together? If these two guys show up, that would go a long way towards building confidence in the revamped secondary.
- Rabblerousr wrote in his latest camp report that priority number one, two, and three for the defense is generating turnovers. Can they deliver on those objective, or at least show that they're trying, even with the third or fourth stringers playing?
- Are there any down-roster free agent pickups that have impressed you in camp? It feels like I saw an awful lot of #99 (Jerome Long) crashing through offensive linemen in practice. Similarly, Jared Green has been catching a lot of passes but not a lot of press. Under-the-radar Nick Hayden has been getting some first team reps. Can any of them show up in a real game?
Which player or players will you have your eyes on when the Cowboys meet the Dolphins on Sunday?