The Cowboys will take the field for the second time this preseason when they take a hop, skip, and a jump over to the L.A. Memorial Coliseum to face the Los Angeles Rams. With four more quarters of action, there will be plenty to see. Here are the players I will be most interested in watching on Saturday.
Before we get started, let’s ask ourselves the question on everyone’s mind - will Jaylon Smith make his Cowboys debut? Clearly, if he plays, he will become the biggest storyline. But will it be this week? A couple Cowboys insiders don’t seem to think so.
Fish and Mickey not expecting Jaylon Smith to play tomorrow night vs Rams @1053thefan.— Shan Shariff (@1053SS) August 11, 2017
The Running Backs
Well, we might as well address the elephant in the room. Straight off the breaking news that the Cowboys will be without Ezekiel Elliott to start the season, the team will now have to resort to plan B when it comes to orchestrating their running game. The question is - what does that plan look like?
Darren McFadden is currently the Cowboys number two running back. He now steps in into the starting role as he’ll be asked lead this team’s running attack. Before Zeke arrived, McFadden rushed for 1,086 yards in 2015 and that was on an dismal offense that had terrible quarterback play, and he only started 10 games that year. He’ll have Dak this time around.
Of course, DMC isn’t the only former 1,000 yard rusher the Cowboys have on the team. Alfred Morris averaged over 1,000 yards during his four years in Washington. Morris has excelled in a lead back role, but has really struggle when asked to share the load. Would ALF be a more effective bell cow running back for Dallas? He has flashed some good runs, including an impressive game last week against Arizona.
Whether it’s McFadden, Morris, or even Rod Smith - the performance of the running backs just gained a whole new level of interest as we now look for the guy who’s going to fill the void of Elliott. A good performance from someone is sure going to do wonders to help calm our nerves.
Ever since the Cowboys made Switzer their fourth-round pick, I have been waiting for this moment. The team’s second slot receiver should make his preseason debut after missing some time nursing a hamstring injury. He’s back now and is looking good.
Man, I bet he’s really good at hopscotch. Every time I see him show off his footwork, I can’t help but think of that scene in Aliens where Bishop does that knife trick with his hand. In honor of the late Bill Paxton, here it is...
With the starters only seeing a series or two and Brice Butler suffering a recent foot injury, Switzer could be the Cowboys most productive receiver on the night. His reps will be limited as well to be cautious, but while he’s on the field, he’s going to be a favorite target of whichever quarterback is out there.
Last week was a little disappointing when the team started Richard Ash and Lewis Neal at the defensive tackle spots. Yikes. Of course they couldn’t generate any type of pressure and it make it easy for the Arizona offense to just breeze down the field.
But this game should give fans a glimpse of the Cowboys new free agent DT, Stephen Paea. He’s been having a great camp and now it’s time to see if all that work against the Cowboys stout offensive line can translate into production on game day.
Taco & Cheeto
Fans got a small taste of the Cowboys top two draft picks and there were some mixed reviews. The “well, they’re just rookies” card got played a lot which is fair because well, they’re just rookies. And there were moments here and there that you could see some playmaking ability. But us fans are hungry for some more.
Taco Charlton had some back tightness this week but he did participate in team drills on Thursday. The Cowboys are super careful when it comes to the health of their players so you never know how much action he’ll see. His biggest obstacle could be in his head as he fights off the noise of all the critics out there. It’s important that he perseveres or as Jerry Jones says, “keep on keeping on.”
Chidobe Awuzie is dealing with a sore ankle so he could be on a pitch count as well. He had a decent game last week, which could have been even better had he came down with an interception after jumping a route. He was critical of himself, claiming that he loafed too much.
"Technique, effort, finishing," he said. "I didn't do anything up to my par, I feel like.
"I didn't really have any mental mistakes. I just didn't finish plays. I didn't run to the ball. Once you have things like that, you don't get happy off things you did.
He’s a competitive guy and although he did fine, he’s not satisfied with fine.
For these players, every new snap is so important to their development. They should both look better as the preseason progresses and inquiring Cowboys minds will be keeping a close eye on them.
Xavier & Frazier
The backup safety position is an area that is still cloudy and it’s anyone’s guess who ends up making the team. While Xavier Woods and Kavon Frazier are two players who should be safe, what specific role they’ll have is still very much up in the air. Frazier has shown some smack lately and you can see his comfort level grow on defense. Woods is the undersized ball hawker that us fans keep hoping sneaks in front of the receiver to snag a pick. We are patiently waiting to see the X-man.
Keep a close eye on 35 and 25 and see if either of these late round safeties can make some splash plays on Saturday.
I’m just going to say it - I’m not sold on Kellen Moore. Don’t get me wrong. It’s obvious the coaches love him and he’s probably better than I am willing to give him credit for, but it’s a struggle for me to buy into him right now. Once the QB stuff has been sorted out and he’s sitting there as the team’s #2, I’ll be his biggest fan, but right now - I’m hoping this McCown signing turns out to mean something.
Some people say he’s just a camp arm. Maybe so. But last I checked, Jason Garrett’s troops all have a chance to compete and don’t think McCown is going to go down without a fight. If he gets enough opportunities, he could make this backup QB situation very interesting.
Which players will you be interested in watching against the Rams?