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What are you looking forward to seeing in the Cowboys third preseason game?

The front page writers over here at BTB weigh in with what they’ll be interested in seeing when the Cowboys face off against the Colts.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Rookie Minicamp Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Two preseason games down, three more to go.

Typically the last preseason game is just fluff with most of the snaps occupied by bottom of the roster players doing everything they can to earn a roster spot on an NFL team. The second to last preseason game is known as the “dress rehearsal” game where fans will get the greatest look at their starters as most of the snaps will be from relevant players trying to define their role on the team. That is clearly the best game out of all of them.

But this weeks game is the second best preseason game on the schedule. The starters will play a series or two and we should get a good chunk of football to watch many of the key players that are involved in position battles. This week is going to be fun.

I’ve ask my colleagues to share what things they’ll be keeping a close eye in the Colts game, and here are the results.

Which players will we get to see?

Preseason games are tricky as you never know who is going to play and for how long. So the first order of business is determining how much action will the starters receive.


Is Jaylon playing? What about Dak? Do we know whether Ryan Switzer will play, or the cornerbacks? Will we see Maliek Collins?

The Cowboys are a long way from coming together and putting their #1 team on the field. Will the first half of the fourth preseason game be enough to be ready for the New York Giants? One might think that more time would be warranted with so many new faces, especially on defense.

But the suspensions raise another issue. The Cowboys need to get those guys enough work so they are ready when they return. And we still don't know if Nolan Carroll or Damien Wilson will miss games.

There’s lots to play for against the Colts.

Early reports are that the starters will get a series or two. The Cowboys said they will have Jaylon on a “pitch count” so I’d be surprised to see him more than a few series. Switzer will not play as he’s still resting his hamstring.

The starting offensive line

With the starters getting their feet wet, we will all get a little taste of how well they perform together. Don’t blink though, because it won’t last long.

Dave Halprin

The offensive line. If we get a look at the starters, or those who are not nicked up, I want to see how the offensive line looks. If Dak is there, if Jason Witten is there, and Dez? And Zeke. It's hard to judge how La’el Collins and Byron Bell/Jonathan Cooper/Chaz Green are really doing without the other elements of the offense in place. It probably won't last long, but I will be interested in seeing how the offensive line functions, and the offense itself as an extension, when most of the starters go for a series or two.

Watching a Kellen Moore led offense go three-and-out is one thing. But from the big boys, we expect more.

The battle of the backups

A couple days ago I polled the BTB community about which backups they liked better. With over 1,800 votes, the tribe has spoken:

The splash plays of Rush and Morris this preseason have opened the door for a nice position battle, so now it’s time to sit back and watch how it unfolds.

Tom Ryle

I really want to see the backup running backs. Who should really be plan A and plan B for a Zeke suspension? It is still rather up in the air, but the staff seems to favor Darren McFadden, while Alfred Morris really seems to be a better runner. I sometimes worry about the coaches sticking with their first plan despite evidence to the contrary.

And speaking of sticking with one player despite the evidence, I will be anxiously awaiting whether Cooper Rush can continue to impress, and whether Kellen Moore can have a better outing. I don't think the team will back off from Moore as the QB2, but I do think Rush can make a case for them to keep 3 QBs.

The school of thought is that Rush will see a lot of action in the Cowboys final preseason game so don’t be too disappointed if his reps are reduced in this game. At the same time the team must keep pushing to find out what they have in Moore so much to the chagrin of many fans, we could see a good dose of 17 on Saturday.

Cole Patterson

I am interested in watching the running backs. Will anybody step up and show the coaching staff that they can be relied on during Zeke's suspension. Will McFadden show some of what he was able to do in 2015? I am curious to see how much they use both McFadden and Morris in the passing game. The Cowboys need someone to step up at that position now.

Who isn't intrigued about watching Jaylon Smith for the first time in a Cowboys uniform? I am interested in seeing how much playing time he gets and if its with the first team more than the second. It'll be an awesome moment for him to finally get on the football field.

I asked you earlier this summer when your “ah-ha” moment was for Dak Prescott last season. There will come a point where the same will happen for Jaylon Smith. While it won’t be right away, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be several instances where that realization starts to surface. Will we see any of that this weekend?

How well will the linebackers perform?

One Cool Customer

I can hardly contain my excitement at seeing Jaylon Smith back in action in a live football game, so that's definitely going to be my highlight of the game.

But beyond Smith, I am also looking at the entire linebacker corps. Sean Lee looks as good as ever. Anthony Hitchens looks better than ever, and has been nearly unblockable in the almost three weeks worth of practices I attended in Oxnard. And the key thing I'll be looking for from Lee, Hitchens, and Smith is how they'll look in pass coverage. Can they effectively shut down the middle of the field against the pass or will every throw to a receiver covered by a linebacker be an automatic completion?

Beyond those three, I'm looking at the backup depth, which to me looks like the best the Cowboys have had in a long time. So I'll be looking to see how viable Damien Wilson, Kyle Wilber, Mark Nzeocha, and even Justin Durant (if he plays) are not just as backups but as potential starters. Do they hesitate before taking the first step, are they moving in the right direction at the snap, can they successfully shed blocks, can they avoid biting on play action?

The battle in the trenches

Joseph Hatz

The lines on both sides of the ball will be most interesting to me, particularly how the offense looks with the starters in at the skill positions, not to mention Tyron Smith who will presumably be getting his first action. The defensive line should be a major attraction as well considering that Demarcus Lawrence, Benson Mayowa, Stephen Paea, and Maliek Collins haven't seen a snap yet. Even without Tyrone Crawford and perhaps Cedric Thornton it will be our first look at many of the first line players on the line, and it will be interesting to see how the edge pressure looks with some push from the interior.

And Jaylon Smith. Always Jaylon Smith.

So far the starting defensive tackles have consisted of Richard Ash and Lewis Neal so seeing the good guys in the middle will be very pleasing.

Michael Sisemore

The preseason is always about watching individual performances but it will be nice to see some of the ones play together. On the offensive side, let's see how the left guard situation plays out with Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin in there. As Tom mentioned, what about the backup running backs, Alfred Morris has a good chance to show that he's the better option for this offense.

Defensively, all eyes will be on Jaylon Smith but I'm focused on Maliek Collins. He's been more than a handful for the offensive linemen in practice. Folks are excited about him and believe he has a chance to become a Pro Bowl talent. Let's see what Taco Charlton can do with guys like Stephen Paea and Collins holding down the middle. Lots of guys will be getting their first live snaps, it'll be interesting see how they perform.

I really like this Maliek vibe going on here.

Danny Phantom

I envision a new Doomsday defense that features Maliek Collins in the middle while David Irving and Taco Charlton man the edge. Stop laughing, it could happen. While the pass rush is still a long ways away from becoming something special, we could be getting our first glimpse of the future. Don’t be surprised if the team takes advantage of a weak Indianapolis offensive line and makes some plays. Free agent, Stephen Paea is another guy that I can’t wait to see go against someone other that Zack Martin and Travis Frederick.

I wasn’t worried when camp started, but I have now become very interested as to what’s going on at left guard. This should be the first time we get a look at Chaz Green in live action and it would be so refreshing see someone who can play well. I will also be watching Jonathan Cooper to see how well he does. Green is still my pick as the most talented choice, but his inability to stay healthy makes Cooper an important insurance policy.

What about you? What are you most interested in seeing on Saturday?

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