Training camp is fine, you can learn a lot about a player by how he practices, what his perceived strengths and weaknesses are, how dedicated he is, if he's coachable or not. But there's one thing you can't learn in training camp, how does the player perform when the lights go on and he's on the field against an opposing NFL team? Tonight, many Cowboys players will get a chance to put themselves on tape and give the coaches every reason to keep them, play them, or in some cases, even crack a starting rotation. Tonight, I'll be watching six players who need those moments on tape against real opposition to make their case.
David Arkin - This guy has been hanging around the roster for the past two years but without seeing any playing time. The 2011 fourth-round pick had begun to look like a guy who would eventually fall by the wayside as a player who never made it. Now, he stands a very real chance at becoming a starting guard for the Dallas Cowboys. Arkin has gotten generally positive reviews in camp so far, and with Mackenzy Bernadeau missing most of camp, Arkin could really help his own cause by standing out on tape tonight.
J.J. Wilcox - Much ink has been spilt, many man-crushes have been formed. But is he the real deal? We start finding that out tonight. Watch to see if he gets proper positioning and takes good angles. Of course we want to see the physical play that has been discussed, but playing proper technique in coverage is going to decide if he can make the leap to more than a special teams, substitute kind of player.
Ronald Leary - Like Arkin, Leary has a real shot at grabbing a starter's spot. Nate Livings is down for at least a month and is getting long in the tooth. Leary is a young kid the Cowboys have high hopes for in the future. That future could be now. If Leary shows he's ready for prime time over the course of the preseason games, the odds are good that he'll be the starting left guard when Dallas opens up against the Giants. Tonight starts that process.
Ernie Sims - A street free agent from last year who showed a little something while filling in. Enough that the Cowboys decided to keep him on and give him a shot this year. Sims has been getting great reviews in camp and has been dubbed a much better fit in the 4-3 defense than the 3-4. Bruce Carter and Sean Lee are locks to start, and Justin Durant is likely to be the third starter, but can Sims carve out a niche as a rotational guy? Or is he a progress stopper for some younger kids trying to make the roster?
Gavin Escobar - The second-round pick from this year's draft was given a huge opportunity when James Hanna came up lame in camp. He's gotten mixed reviews so far. He has great hands, but can he block, can he make plays? That's a question he needs to start answering and he'll get his chance tonight. If Escobar doesn't start producing he'll end up third on the depth chart if Hanna continues to make progress.
George Selvie - With Tyrone Crawford lost for the year and Anthony Spencer hurt for most of the preseason, the Cowboys became desperate at defensive end. They brought in Selvie, and so far he's making the most of it. He's gotten sacks at camp and seems to be in on a lot of plays. An afterthought when he came in, he's now pushing to make the roster. Getting some killer game tape tonight could certainly help his cause.
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