And now, on to the regular season.
The Dallas Cowboys concluded their offseason field work tonight, with a dominating 30-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins in front of a sparse Cowboys Stadium crowd. The announced attendance was 73,000+ which is laughable to anyone within 200 yards of a television or computer screen. While the fans might not have shown up, there were several Cowboys players who needed to make noticeable appearances in order to continue their Cowboys careers.
There was plenty of talk early in the offseason about Rob Ryan's defense for 2012. It's supposed to be streamlined from the '11 version and better absorbed by players who had a full offseason to learn the nuances. For what it's worth, and it may not be much, the Cowboys D did not allow a single first half touchdown during the entire preseason.
And while that might be fine and dandy, the preseason finale is pretty much only for judging individual players. The only starter who suited up for Dallas was center Phil Costa, who was getting his first preseason action. He logged 11 snaps on the Cowboys first two drives and then sat out.
Costa played reasonably well. There were no bumbled snaps and he was reasonably able to play his role. There weren't any dominating plays, but he also didn't make any egregious ones. On downs where he wasn't superior, the he made enough of a play that his man didn't end it. He did get thrown to the ground on a couple plays, but again, none that affected the play. Not a resounding game, but not a facepalm experience either.
Everyone else of importance was playing for a roster spot. Follow the jump for a brief run down of some of the more noteworthy performances.
Lance Dunbar: On two different plays, Dunbar took a solid shot and spun off for additional yardage. One of them was a dynamic 58 yard run a play after a big 27 yard punt return. Dunbar may not have made the club, but he at least forced the coaching staff to have a conversation or two.
Baraka Atkins: A player on the way outside looking in. Atkins simply made play after play tonight. Five tackles.
Mana Silva: Mana Silva is making the 53 man roster. I don't know what they'll do with Matt Johnson (although I'd imagine he makes it as well) Silva simply makes plays every game. You don't cut consistently productive players.
Phillip Tanner: The other of the two-headed rushing monsters. Tanner himself had a touchdown and several nice runs. With two running backs gouging Miami, credit must go to the offensive line in general.
Orie Lemon: Lemon made a couple nice tackles, but his highlight was a beautiful read and react interception of Matt Moore. On a pass across the middle Lemon cut under the receiver and plucked the ball, racing to the end zone for a pick six. It was a pure instinct play and combined with his strong preseason to this point probably forced another lengthy conversation for the coaching staff about a player that was probably on the outside looking in.
Alex Albright: Continued his stellar preseason as a jack-of-all-trades linebacker. Eight solo tackles, three assists and a sack.
Dan Connor: Woah. Connor seems to be getting progressively worse in games; especially in coverage. While I don't blame him for a big run by the Dolphins that many did (he was engaged by a guard and couldn't get off the block but appeared to be just bumbling) in space is a different story. He looked lost in a zone coverage that pushed Dallas back to within it's own five. Last two games we've seen him embarassed in pass coverage. I can't see him getting cut as some wondered; Jerry gave that man a $2.7 million signing bonus.
Victor Butler: If this man only logs 233 snaps in this season it's a tragedy. His speed is so apparent on pass rushing downs, though he is still a concern in stuffing the run.
James Hanna: What happened to Mr. Dropsies? Whatever he was doing in OTAs is long forgotten. He makes every catch, can get open and plays very smooth. I'm extremely excited about what he could become in the very near future.
Stephen McGee: It's been nice Stephen. Missed several opportunities for plays with jitter feet and ball pats.
Danny Coale made a diving grab and Andre Holmes hauled in a 32 yard fade that makes one remember the potential; but it might not have been enough to put either on the 53 depending on the numbers crunch. Holmes left the game with a knee injury after his catch.
Teddy Williams made eight tackles and still didn't stand out.
There's plenty more to discuss, but the final preseason game isn't getting more than 800 words from me. Let's discuss what I failed to bring up in the comments section.