January 11, 2015. That was the last time we watched a Dallas Cowboys team line up and play football against another team. That day, the Cowboys came up short on a controversial call that was instrumental in a 26-21 defeat at the hands of the Green Bay Packers. It's been a long wait since.
Tonight, the Cowboys play a game again. Granted, this is a preseason game. We can all concede that these are not real games. Plenty of Cowboys stars will be eating hot dogs on the sideline while others battle for their NFL lives. But for the hardcore Dallas Cowboys fan, tonight's preseason opener to the 2015 season against the San Diego Chargers is nothing less than Christmas.
It's also the first step on a journey that has Cowboys fans feeling confident. Some say cocky, we say confident. The 2014 season was a revelation, the offensive line made the Cowboys new again, it made them contenders. Where Dallas was hurting - on defense - was the focus of the offseason. That side of the ball received infusions of talent and potential, all done to facilitate a run at the playoffs again. This year, hoping to go further.
Bold dreams this early in the year. Still, it's hard to imagine a Cowboys fan who doesn't at least have big dreams, even if they're keeping it to themselves.
You're unlikely to see the Cowboys regulars in the game for long. Some of them won't even play, some will see a series or two. With Tony Romo unlikely to see the field, Brandon Weeden, Dustin Vaughan and Jameill Showers will hold down the quarterbacking duties.
One place you will see a competition right out of the gate is at the running back position. Gus Johnson has his opportunity to really open some eyes as the Cowboys will almost certainly rest Joseph Randle. Once the game is over, Lance Dunbar will return, and Darren McFadden will enter the competition, but Thursday night will belong to Johnson.
On defense, the Cowboys will want to get a look at their two top draft picks, Byron Jones and Randy Gregory. It will be their "Welcome to the NFL" moment. The Cowboys also might give Greg Hardy a few snaps to knock off some rust. It's been a long time since he's played a game.
On special teams, Dallas will get to see Lucky Whitehead in action, a player who could do a lot for his own chances of making the team with strong play in the return game. He also will need to look competent as a fifth wide receiver.
Tonight, we start getting some real evidence of who can play when the lights are on. It's not the regular season, but you won't hear me complaining.
Here's what you need to know:
Date: August 13th, 2015
Game time: 10:00 PM EST
Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
TV channel: NFLN joins in progress at approximately 10:30 PM EST (List of stations in Dallas and San Diego markets carrying the game.)
Announcers: Dallas - Bill Jones, Babe Laufenberg
Online streaming: NFL Game Pass
Dallas Cowboys record: (0-0)
San Diego Chargers record: (0-0)
Enemy blog: Bolts From The Blue
Facebook: Please "Like" BTB on Facebook