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Cowboys vs. Bengals: Five Cowboys under the microscope for second preseason game

The front page writers share their guys to watch in the Cowboys-Bengals preseason game.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Training Camp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys return home for a Saturday night matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals in their second preseason game. We’re going to pick five players who will be under the microscope in the game for different reasons. Last week, three out of our five selections had pretty decent outings in Antwaun Woods, Lance Lenoir, and Dorance Armstrong. Let’s see who everyone has this week, spoiler, there will be a couple of repeats:

Jourdan Lewis, CB

Michael Sisemore: After Anthony Brown struggled in the last game to stay disciplined in his technique, now is as good a time as ever for Jourdan Lewis to take over. Lewis may not have the preferable size but he’s much more confident in his abilities in the slot than Brown. Jourdan Lewis trusts his technique and more often than not is in the right position to make a play on the ball. For example, he was able to end practice the other day with this nifty interception:

The Cowboys need to find a nickel corner that they can trust won’t have extreme lapses that carry through a game. Jourdan Lewis is an extremely competitive player that seems to have a much smoother game than Brown’s. Let’s see how he covers some of these Bengals receivers and if he can take the torch and run with it.

Rico Gathers, TE

Dave Halprin: I’m a bigger believer in Gathers’ pass-catching ability than most, and admittedly I’m a little mystified that this coaching staff can’t find a way to work that into their game plan. We have third-down backs who primarily catch passes, we have run-stuffing defensive tackles and linebackers who come off the field on passing plays, we have pass-rushing defensive specialists, we have short-yardage backs, we have slot receivers, we have blocking tight-ends. The game has plenty of room for specialists, so it only seems reasonable the Cowboys could figure out a way to use someone of Gathers athleticism, size and ability to catch the football.

But the Cowboys hardly utilized Gathers in the 49ers game, and if they do the same with him in this preseason game, that might be the nail in the coffin for Gathers’ Cowboys career. So I’ll be watching to see if the Cowboys give Gathers some serious snaps in the game, and whether he can take advantage of the opportunities if they present themselves.

Antwaun Woods, DT

Tom Ryle: I would go with Antwaun Woods. The team needs some answers in the interior of the defensive line. He has had a good start, but consistency is what he needs to show. Another good outing from him could nearly lock up a roster spot for him and solve another part of the puzzle for the Dallas Cowboys.

Dorance Armstrong, DE

One.Cool.Customer: I picked Dorance Armstrong as the player to watch in the preseason opener against the 49ers, and I’m going to watch him even more intently against the Bengals. Dorance had two tackles in the game against the 49ers along with two pressures, but I had frankly expected a sack or two in his 30 snaps, given that he was going up against the 49ers seconds and thirds.

The Cowboys were happy enough with his performance (Rod Marinelli gave him a “B”) to give him some first-team snaps this week in practice, and boy, did he light up in practice this week:

Perhaps it’ll all come together for Armstrong on Saturday and he’ll get his first NFL sack, even if it’s just a preseason sack.

Taco Charlton, DE

DannyPhantom: If Randy Gregory takes the field on Saturday, then obviously - all eyes will be on 94 to see how he looks in his first NFL action.

But in case that doesn’t happen, I’m really intrigued with the progress of Taco Charlton. Watching the snaps closely of each defensive lineman in the 49ers game, I was really impressed with how disruptive Charlton was.

I’m starting to see more hand action that DeMarcus Lawrence uses so effectively to dominate, and he is winning on a regular basis. Has the time come to start getting excited about last year’s first-round draft pick? Is it Taco time?

Well, there’s our picks but we’re curious to see some of yours, let the discussions begin!

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