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Cowboys vs. Vikings Preseason Game: Five Things To Look For

With the Cowboys “dress rehearsal” game against the Minnesota Vikings finally here, the starters will get an opportunity to see some good action. What things will you be looking for in this game?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the Cowboys most meaningful exhibition game on the docket Saturday, the time has finally come for fans to get the juiciest taste of football goodness the preseason has to offer. As more starters get more playing time, there will be plenty of things to keep an eye on, but here are the five things that will be commanding most of my attention.

1. Run Little Joe, Run!

Guess whose back? Back again. Tyron's back. Tell a friend. Guess whose back, guess whose back.....well, you know the lyrics. The first preseason game featured some of the team's starting offensive linemen, but it was without their running backs. Last week featured the running backs, but only a few snaps from a couple starting linemen. This game will be the Hanna Montana of preseason football as you will get the best of both worlds because the Cowboys good running backs will get to run behind their good blockers.

While Zack Martin won't be playing, the Cowboys will have their biggest showing of offensive lineman starters on the field for this game. This should bring about some happiness for the fans because we won't be subjected to so much of the sour taste of R.J. Dill Pickle and John Pretzel. It should also bring about some holes for the running backs. Joseph Randle showed what he could do with running lanes and it wouldn't be surprising to see him scamper off for a nice run.

Disclaimer: One of the Cowboys strength in the running game is the production they get after wearing down the defense and that won't be evident in a game where they only play about a half of football. So a good performance by Randle with limited touches does nothing to indicate he can handle the workload, nor does a blasé performance mean he can't open things up as the game progresses. Just take it for face value and see what he can do with the quality of space the offensive line gives him.

Prediction: Randle gets a 27-yard run.

2. Stop The Run

As great as the defense has played so far in the preseason, the ability to stop the run has been lacking at times. The 49ers' starting unit ripped off a handful of good runs, however the Cowboys starting defense were missing some key names. Defensive tackles Tyrone Crawford, Terrell McClain, and Nick Hayden did not play. All three should see action against the Vikings. The team will still be without two of their starting linebackers, Rolando McClain and Anthony Hitchens, but all the excitement will be directed toward the long awaited return of Sean Lee.

Prediction: Terrell McClain gets a stuff in the backfield.

With all these players seeing action, the Cowboys should put up a little more resistance defending the run. Which leads me to...

3. Down Goes Bridgewater

It has been exciting to watch the Cowboys new and improved edge rushers that have been deployed against the quarterbacks this preseason. The defensive ends have accrued three sacks in each of the first two games. But what happens when the defensive tackles can get in on the action too? The Cowboys will have a strong front line of "Rushmen" coming at Teddy Bridgewater. The thought has been that with so many good players on the defensive line, it is inevitable that there will be some good one-on-one matchups that the Cowboys pass rushers can exploit.

Prediction: Greg Hardy introduces himself to Cowboys fans with a sack/fumble.

4. Wide Open Spaces

The Cowboys will get the running game going, but look for the passing game to surface its head for the first time this preseason. Dez Bryant will not be catching any passes, but his receiving comrades will be out there and they will help put signs of life back in the offense. Cole Beasley has been a tough cover all camp, so look for him to help keep the chains moving. As A.J. Jenkins continues to make a push for a roster spot, he should get a chance to catch a pass from someone not named Dustin Vaughan. The Cowboys should be able to put a nice drive together and find a familiar face capping off a score.

Prediction: Jason Witten touchdown reception.

5. No Scandrick, No Problem

The Cowboys have been running short on corners in each of the first two preseason games. Of the six expected to earn a roster spot, four of them have missed time due to injuries. Orlando Scandrick is out for the season, but all the other guys should be a go. The Cowboys starting duo of Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne will see their first game action of the year and the team's first-round rookie, Byron Jones will make his return after a shoulder injury kept him out of last week's game. Anytime you lose a player as good as Scandrick, you immediately become weaker - but the defensive backs have something going for them now that they haven't had in a long time - a pass rush.

Prediction: Corey White jumps a route and takes it to the house.

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

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