The third preseason game seems to get the most attention, unless you’re the Dallas Cowboys, then all your games get the most attention. And tonight’s game against the Miami Dolphins is no different.
All eyes will be on Tony Romo, and every media outlet known to mankind will be looking to dissect any and every move he makes to see if they can notice something about his once injured back.
By the sound of things coming from Valley Ranch, there’s no set number of plays designated for Romo tonight. I feel that number will come from how well the offense performs on the first two series. If the offense comes out and scores TDs on its first couple of series, then I wouldn’t expect to see Romo in after that. With that said, he may or may not see any action in the second quarter.
You would like to see fewer questions unanswered by the third preseason game, however that isn’t the case with the defense. The Cowboys learned earlier in the week that second-year player DeVonte Holloman would be lost for the year, and very possibly for his entire career. He becomes the second linebacker this summer the Cowboys have lost for the season.
The ‘Boys will look toward some of their rookies to step their game up and pick up some of the slack.
Watch for rookie Anthony Hitchens to get some snaps at middle linebacker with the first team defense; wouldn’t surprise me to see a couple of different combination of linebackers running with the first string defense.
Also look for rookie Will Smith to get some playing time with the second string. He hasn’t been able to show a whole lot this summer because of injury, but a lot of people believe he’s one of those players that turns it up when the lights come on. The team also had the same hope for Ahmad Dixon and he did just that with his first performance in San Diego.
The team held Dixon out last week for being late to Friday meetings. I felt that was the right move. Can’t let these rookies get too big of a head and it seemed to have brought him back to earth after having such a good showing in his first game. Look for him to come back with an even bigger chip on his shoulder.
Look for the recent phenom known as Zach Minter to get reps with the first team at the 3 technique. Minter exploded onto the scene last week by getting a sack on one play, and then tackling the running back for a loss on the next play. Then, on the following play, got another sack. Nice debut for a guy who had only been with the team for three days prior to the game.
If Minter can keep up that level of play to go along with the play of rookie free agent Davon Coleman, what was thought to be a weakness on this defense could become a strength when Henry Melton comes back.
Brandon Carr and Sterling Moore will play tonight. Moore is coming back from a groin injury and Carr makes his debut since the death of his mother. I don’t expect to see a lot of playing time for either player during this game. I think a lot of Carr’s work will be put in next week against the Broncos.
Look for the special teams to have a better showing. If not, then some of those guys better start looking for work elsewhere. One sad fact about the performance: there were seven players from last season who put on the dismal performance in Arlington last week. I can’t see another performance like that happening.
Overall, look for the Cowboys to sub early and often on defense in the Miami heat and humidity. Look for the offense to showcase their run game and keep Romo protected like Ft. Knox.
The defense will be challenged by the ever-improving Ryan Tannehill as the Dolphins are trying to take a page out of the Chip Kelly offense and run a hurry-up style offense. This will be a good test for the Cowboys’ improving defense.