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5 Things to Watch in Cowboys-Broncos Preseason Game

No doubt you're as excited as we are for tonight's matchup between the and . To help whet your appetite, here are five things to watch for in Dallas' 2002 debut.

As was previously announced last Wednesday, the Cowboys' starters will be sitting out tonight. Fans of Dak Prescott, , and others will have to wait to see their favorite players back on the field.

So tonight is about evaluating the backups and giving young players valuable as the team continues building towards the regular season. With that in mind, here are our five key areas of concern:

1. Backup Quarterback

Will Grier has been standing out in , putting pressure on veteran for that coveted spot on the behind Prescott. Hopefully both get a chance to show their stuff tonight and give fans a better look.

Grier was held out of the Cowboys' joint practice with Denver on Thursday with a groin injury and his status for tonight has yet to be made official. It would be a tough blow for the fourth-year passer as he tries to catch on in Dallas and claim the QB2 job.

If he can't play, could get a lot more playing time. That statement may lead to audible groans for some, but it will be interesting to see how DiNucci has progressed in his third season.

Don't sleep on Cooper Rush, either. We saw his strong play last year in the Vikings game and preseason has often been when Rush really puts on a show. As long as Dallas' backup line is solvent, Cooper may quickly remind us why he keeps sticking around.

Tyler Smith
Cowboys G/T

2. Offensive Line Depth

While our 1st-round pick may be the starting left by Week One, Smith is still listed as a backup and is expected to be on the field tonight. It will especially interesting to see if Dallas only plays him at guard or also gives him some looks at left .

One reason that the Cowboys may do the latter is the reported struggle of Josh Ball. The current frontrunner for the swing tackle job, Ball has not been impressive based on camp observations or the most recent reports from practices with the Broncos.

Like many, Ball appears to be much better suited on the right side of the line. But with Tyron Smith's injury , having a secure backup option at is a critical issue for the Cowboys. Seeing what Tyler Smith can do in that role is something they'll no doubt be considering in the coming weeks.

While swing tackle is the biggest concern right now, seeing how prospects like Matt Farniok, , and are faring is also good material for tonight.

3. Wide Receivers

There's been a lot of positive talk about Dallas' receivers so far in camp. 's been great, of course, but the buzz around guys like Noah Brown, , , T.J. Vasher, and has been consistent throughout the days in .

Dallas listed Tolbert as a starter on its first official depth chart earlier in the week but the rookie may still get some run tonight. You can also expect Brown to be featured as a veteran and also as arguably the most-praised WR of the bunch the last few weeks.

Opportunities for these receivers to shine may be limited depending on the plays of the backups QBs and . But they will get their moments and need to produce with them.

I can't help but think of Jon'Vea Johnson, a 2019 prospect, who had all of the hype coming out of camp and then couldn't catch a thing in preseason games. Stocks can drop really fast in these games; critical for guys fighting to make the roster.

DaRon Bland
Cowboys CB

4. Defensive Prospects

Whether it's , , John Ridgeway, DaRon Bland, , , or others there are a lot of new faces on to look for tonight. They will get plenty of time on the field with the starters out.

Many times in preseason we see guys have big games but then not make the team. Often this is due to evaluations that they only took advantage of poor play from the opposition's backups, or simply getting caught in a numbers crunch with more established options in front of them.

Some of the players you'll see tonight, like Sam Williams, have no concerns about their roster spot in 2022. But others are truly playing for their jobs and that can lead to some exciting moments even in “fake” games.

5. Kick & Punt Returns

While other guys could get looks the big story here is . The reigning MVP of the USFL was signed by Dallas at the start of camp as a return specialist but could see work on offense as well in preseason games.

Turpin will stand out just for being 5'7″ in the land of giants. But we've already seen practice highlights of his speed and that could make for some exciting moments over the next few weeks.

To keep Turpin healthy and to assess other options, the Cowboys will likely give some other players cracks at the return duties in the preseason. If nothing else, they'll want to know who they can trust should KaVontae get injured or struggle in the spotlight.

But right now it appears to be Turpin's job to lose. Hopefully, he can stand out for the Cowboys as much as he did in his last league.

Jess Haynie
Jess Haynie
Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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