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Cowboys News: Hall Of Fame gameday edition!

Finally, football! (Well, sorta.)

NFL: Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The wait is over! For the first time in 2017, the Dallas Cowboys (or at least a lot of them) will be taking the field against another team tonight, in this case the Arizona Cardinals, in the Hall of Fame game. (For info on how to watch, follow this link.)

The game is going to be more akin to a glorified scrimmage than anything we expect to see in the regular season, but there is still plenty to watch for. Here are some articles to get you ready, plus all the other Cowboys news you need.

The Hall of Fame game is really important for some Cowboys players - Dawn Macelli, Blogging The Boys
The Hall of Fame game will see all the projected starters watching from the sidelines, but it can be a great opportunity for the players at the bottom of the 90 man camp roster. Macelli reminds us how a past HOF game was the starting point for the living legend that is Jeff Heath.

In the 2013 game Heath got an opportunity to prove that he could contribute something to the future of the Dallas Cowboys. He was short on high-level coaching and had not been given the opportunity to test himself against the best competition, but one thing that Heath did have was heart.

He also had a tendency to show up on film when given an opportunity.

The game was not meaningless for a guy who few had heard of and whom the coaches did not expect to make the squad, at least not right away. He was given a sliver of an opportunity and Heath took advantage when he got on the gridiron.

Three things to watch for in the Cowboys/Cardinals Hall of Fame game - DannyPhantom, Blogging The Boys
Our DannyPhantom has some cogent observations to make about the HOF game. But his math skills seem lacking, because he talks about a lot more than three things, including this one.

Let's Rush To Judgment

Let the pass rusher race begin! We all have our favorites and Thursday will mark the first time many fans see these players in action. Some will play better than others so it will provide the first litmus test of the season.

One of the great thing about not having any superstar pass rushers is that you don’t have to worry about them being held out of an early preseason game. Sure, there are some veterans who are ailing a bit so you won’t be seeing them go. Maliek Collins, for example, won’t play. But many of the new guys will see some action. That includes Taco Charlton, Damontre Moore, and the Stephen Paea. There is a good chance, we’ll be talking about at least one of these guys after Thursday game.

Three things to watch as Cowboys kick off NFL preseason in Hall of Fame Game | Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay
Another take on what to watch for in the HOF game.

It’s likely Cooper Rush, an undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan, will get the majority of the snaps Thursday.

“He’s got a really good head on his shoulders,” Linehan said. “He’s a sharp, smart guy, studies his butt off. The limited reps, it doesn’t look like it’s foreign for him to be out here. It’s not too big a stage for him. We had a long drive, working our young and new players and he did some really good things.”

Source: Jaylon Smith Won't Play In Dallas Cowboys Preseason Opener At Canton - Mike Fisher, CowboysHQ
It shouldn't come as any surprise to anyone, but it looks like the long-awaited debut of Jaylon Smith in any kind of game will have to wait a bit longer.

"Whenever they tell me I can play," Jaylon Smith said Tuesday as the Dallas Cowboys packed for their trip to Canton, "I'll go play.''

But a source tells that on Tuesday night, the Cowboys staff determined that "whenever'' won't be in this week's preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals.

Jerry’s Hall Of Fame Induction Is Very Much A Jones Family Triumph | Rob Phillips, Dallas Cowboys
The reason the Cowboys are playing in the HOF game is that owner and GM Jerry Jones is one of this year's inductees. And he does not feel the honor is just for himself.

When Jones is formally enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he’ll be proud to share the enormous honor with his entire family.

“As Jerry so wonderfully says about everybody around him, he’s stood on a lot of shoulders,” says Stephen, the Cowboys’ executive vice president, chief operating officer and director of player personnel. “He really looks at this in his mind as a family induction, or voting in, whatever the proper term is.”

Cowboys' Hall of Fame visit offers peek at Jason Witten's future - Todd Archer, Dallas Cowboys Blog- ESPN
Jerry Jones is being inducted into the HOF. Veteran tight end Jason Witten is expected by many to join him one day. Here are some of the reasons why.

He is seventh in NFL history with 1,089 catches. With 14 more catches, he will move into the top four. Among active players, only Larry Fitzgerald has more receptions (1,125). Witten has played in 10 Pro Bowls. He owns the Cowboys record for most receptions and needs 17 yards to pass Hall of Famer Michael Irvin (11,904) for the most in team history.

Scout's Notebook: Breaking Down The Goal Line Drills; Dak's Great Throws | Bryan Broadus, Dallas Cowboys
If you don't have Broaddus' Scout's Notebook posts on your must-read list, you need to fix that. His notes on the final practice before the HOF game had his usual great stuff, including these two notes about a couple of positions we are all watching closely.

I saw some better patience by La’el Collins during the one-on-one period of handling the rush. Defenders had been getting the best of Collins by taking advantage of his aggressiveness and his trouble with his hands. Collins had better hand placement during this practice, and even when Damontre’ Moore tried a spin move on him, he didn’t get over extended and his base was right where it needed to be.

Great push by Benson Mayowa and Stephen Paea to sack Dak Prescott during the two-minute portion of practice. Mayowa and Paea were able to execute a twist stunt that Emmett Cleary and Jonathan Cooper struggled to handle. Prescott was trying to locate a receiver down the field and was unable to do so as the width of the pocket on that left side closed down around him.

Sturm: Why Dak Prescott's rookie season with Cowboys was even more special than you realize | Bob Sturm, SportsDay
Sturm is another writer you have to follow if you want to really understand what makes the Cowboys tick. In this long and video-filled post, he looks at just how few bad throws Dak Prescott made in his rookie season, including this bit of analysis based on a study of all quarterback throws last season in the NFL by Cian Fahey (one more writer you should get familiar with).

So, Fahey's study broke down the league's quarterbacks on this very topic. And we found out that of the 33 qualifying quarterbacks last season, Prescott threw the fifth-fewest interceptable passes with 13. Some players almost threw 40, and the league averaged 21.8. You might say, sure, but they are also throwing bigger positive plays, too. Actually, very few. But when it comes to those throws that get you beat, Prescott took care of the ball. On average, 4.2 percent of the league's passes were bad ones. Prescott was at 2.6 percent. The league threw an interceptable pass every 23.7 attempts, but Prescott did so every 38.2 attempts.

Orlando Scandrick explains reason he'll play with chip on his shoulder, how he leads Cowboys' rookie CBs | SportsDay staff
Orlando Scandrick is the veteran of the Cowboys' secondary, and he is noted for playing with some attitude. What you may not know is what he attributes that to this season, which he discussed on KESN-FM 103.3.

"But the chip on my shoulder this year is I was hurt last year, and that guy that was on film, when I watch it this year and I watch cut-ups, that guy that was out there last year, that wasn't me. That's just not- that wasn't indicative of who I am as a player and I want to erase that, so every day I come out here at practice in training camp, I try to erase that and just get back to myself."

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