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Cowboys @ 49ers Preseason Game: Five Things To Look For

As the Cowboys approach their second preseason game, more players will be given time to showcase their skills. Some starters will receive a little more playing time and the reserve players that are fighting for a roster spot will be under the spotlight. What are you looking forward to seeing in this game?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The second game of the Dallas Cowboys preseason is approaching and fans will get another chance to see the team in live action. There are many different things to keep an eye on, but here are five things to watch closely when they line up against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night.

1. The Three-Headed RB Monster

The idea that Joe Randle, Darren McFadden, and Lance Dunbar might all see the field on Sunday brings about some long awaited excitement for Cowboys fans who are on pins and needles when it comes to what to expect from the team's running game. Well, don't get yourself too worked up.  While these running backs should get an opportunity to run the ball, one of their biggest tools won't be available to them - the offensive line. Travis Frederick will play, but outside of him the team will probably rely on the reserves to man the front line. While the holes may not be plentiful, it is still going to be exciting to see what happens if one of these guys gets into the open field. Just seeing one 20+ yard run is all it is going to take to make fans start wondering that maybe, just maybe, this running game is going to be alright.

2. The Second Unit Linebackers

It may appear that Matt Eberflus is just drawing names out of a hat to assemble his latest linebacker unit, but there is a method to his madness. With Sean Lee, Rolando McClain, and Anthony Hitchens all resting up, the team will call on the reserves to fill in. Damien Wilson will play the weak side spot. Andrew Gachkar will man the strong side. And Kyle Wilber will take a shot at the middle linebacker position. Once again, Wilber is being asked to try a new position in the defense. The team continues to explore different ways it can be successful. If one of these backups emerge as a strong contributor somewhere, then the team will know how to go about it when they are without one of their starters. The flexibility of Hitchens makes that all possible. It's just a matter of finding out who the best guys are. The surprise in all this is that Jasper Brinkley isn't part of this group. He was once looked at as one of the top bench guys and maybe a possible replacement for McClain while he is suspended, but he just hasn't been playing well.

Look for #57, Damien Wilson, to make plays and fans continue to crown him Hitchens 2.0 as he outperforms his draft price.

3. It's All About That Rush

If I had a nickel for every time Blaine Gabbert was sacked in Jacksonville, I'd have enough money to overpay Jeremy Parnell. Gabbert is in San Francisco now where he is backing up Colin Kaepernick. The Cowboys pass rushers will get a shot at teeing off on both of them. Of all the injuries the Cowboys have had, the defensive line is healthy so look for this unit to give fans a first glimpse of the excitement that is coming in 2015. With the starters getting more playing time in this game, the younger guys will see more action against the 49ers reserves. It wouldn't be surprising to see Randy Gregory get his second and third sack of his career. The Cowboys other defensive line draft pick could impress as well as Ryan Russell continues to flash some good plays. Bubble guy Lavar Edwards had a great first preseason game so Ben Gardner needs to respond with a big game of his own to stay in the race for that final defensive end roster spot.

4. Brandon Weeden

Whether you like him or loath him, he's the team's backup quarterback. Weeden only played one series in the game against the San Diego Chargers and it came with mixed results. He had some good throws in the team's first series, but it was overshadowed by a mishandled snap when Travis Frederick must have forgotten how strong he was. With Tony Romo taking on the role of the QB who sees limited action, Weeden could get more chances behind center. With so many offensive players nursing injuries, Weeden's arrangement of supporting cast will be in flux so it's hard to say what he'll be working with. That shouldn't matter. He needs to go out and make plays regardless of circumstance. Just note - how he performs will be based on his individual performance and not the result of what the team does collectively.

5. Don't Forget About Patmon

Last game, all eyes were on the rookie Byron Jones, but it was Corey White that jumped out at you. This week, Orlando Scandrick returns to the starting lineup, but keep an eye on his partner on the other side, Tyler Patmon. The team has some tough competition at the corner position so there is still a lot to be determined when it comes to who is logging the snaps. The team is moving slowly with Morris Claiborne so don't expect to see him on the field, but there are other guys who are ready to step in. Keep an eye out on a couple rookie UDFA guys, Joel Ross (#29) and Tim Scott (#41). They should get plenty of chances to make plays. While it may seem like these guys are long shots to make a real push for a Cowboys roster spot, strong play could earn themselves a spot on some other team.

Those are the things that I will be looking for. What about you?

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