The Cowboys’ third preseason game rolls our way on Sunday night and it’s an interesting one versus the former division rival Cardinals.
Everyone who pays close attention knows that the third preseason game is sometimes called a dress rehearsal and it’s commonly the final tune-up before the regular season begins (with the fourth preseason game serving as a spotlight for roster-bubble players).
Dallas coach Jason Garrett was pretty vague on Thursday in discussing who would and wouldn’t play. But it’s a fair bet, having seen Dak Prescott and many of the first-teamers play several series against the Bengals, that we’ll get a healthy dose of the starters versus Arizona. We’re also likely to see Ezekiel Elliott’s first carries of the campaign.
All eyes will be focused on the Cowboys’ offensive line as a group of would-be backups step into leading roles. Travis Frederick, we learned this week, is battling Guillain-Barre Syndrome and guard Zack Martin hyperextended his knee against Cincinnati and won’t play on Sunday night.
So we’ll find out how the retooled offensive front stands up in a live-action situation. It appears Joe Looney will be snapping the ball in Frederick’s place. Alongside Looney, we’re likely to see a lot of Connor Williams, Chaz Green, Cameron Fleming and Kadeem Edwards.
It’s starting to look like the offensive line is going to be a question mark, at least early in this season. If things fall right and Martin and Frederick get back on the field quickly, it could once again be a huge strength. But it could also be an injury revolving door and we’ll find out how well Dallas’s depth stands up.
The other big thing to watch versus the Cardinals will be the Cowboys defense. This group is gaining momentum and praise this preseason as the first-teamers have allowed just seven points through two halves of football. In fact, they’re seconds away from having pitched a shutout as San Francisco managed to score a touchdown in the final minute of the second quarter in the preseason opener.
Jaylone Smith and Chidobe Awuzie are shaping up to be stars alongside Sean Lee and Demarcus Lawrence. Will we see that continue to take hold on Sunday? Who else might step up? Maybe a big play from Randy Gregory?