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Preseason Week 1 at San Diego, Players to Watch

Brian Leatherman

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Cowboys Blog - Preseason Week 1 at San Diego, Players to Watch

Tonight is the first game of the year for Dallas, preseason week 1 against the San Diego Chargers. We know the first string will play maybe a series or two, if that, and really on the offensive side of the ball there isn't a whole lot of questions to be answered.
Although it will be intriguing to see Jonathan Martin get his maul on and also to see how good Brandon Weeden can be with an awesome offensive line for at least a series or two.
But as far as players to watch on the offensive side of the ball, I'm going to say watch every WR that plays after the first string guys leave. There is a lot of talent in that position and maybe two spots left out of possibly six.

Wide Receivers

#16 Tim Benford - Can't go back to the practice squad, this is it, all or nothing. Let's see if he elevates his game with his back against the wall.
#14 Chris Boyd - At 6'4 he'll be easy to spot, but reports are coming that he's starting to take advantage of his opportunities and is making an impression.
#85 Jamar Newsome - Reports are coming in that he started out fast but might have hit his peak, could be just the grind of training camp, we shall see.
#15 Devin Street - Jerry Jones really likes this kid and he isn't alone. All the coaches have been raving about Street as well. Runs smooth routes and possesses deceiving speed.

Running Backs

#25 Lance Dunbar - Let's see how he does coming back from that knee injury, all signs point to a full recovery. but let's see him make those hard cuts and jump-starts in the game.
#21 Joseph Randle - He's going to need to make a major jump or show he can be a special teams demon.
#34 Ryan Williams - It will be interesting to see what he can do now that he's fully healthy, but still has a long road ahead of him to make this team. Should get plenty of work tonight.
#28 Ben Malena - This is a great chance for him to show his stuff on special teams. He's in the same mold as Dunbar and all it takes is one return or to break one long run and that can go a long way toward making the cut.

Tight ends

#84 James Hanna - Word is Hanna has improved his run blocking, and to be honest, if he hadn't done that, not sure he would make this team.

Offensive line

#65 Ronald Leary - Looking to see if he's back from the "Miles Austin", also known as hamstring injury. He's competing against Mackenzy Bernadeau for the only position up for grabs on the offensive line.

Defense

On the defensive side of the ball is where things get interesting. Starting linebackers, corners and safeties will play a series or two, tops. But the defensive line? Now that's a different story.
I don't think Henry Melton will see a lot of time, but everyone else trying to earn a spot will. So let's take a look at some names to watch for.

Defensive Line

#56 Martez Wilson, DE - If the guy learns some technique, he could be a gem. Watch the quickness off the snap of the ball.
#79 Ben Bass, DE/DT - Haven't heard a whole lot from ol' Ben. But this is his time to shine so hopefully he will.
#70 Dartwan Bush, DE/DT - He's turned some heads with his relentless play in training camp so far, so we'll see what he can do when the big lights come on.
#95 Caesar Rayford, DE - Rayford made a splash last preseason, so much so that the Cowboys traded for him. Let's see if he can replicate what he did last preseason.
#60 Davon Coleman, DT - Like Dartwan Bush, he's come in as a rookie and turned heads. Bryan Broaddus can't stop talking about the kid, so we'll see what all the noise is about tonight.
#66 Ken Bishop, DT - Fans have been screaming for a big man who can plug the middle of the D, whelp, here he is and he's starting to show why the cowboys were high on him to begin with.
#71 Ben Gardner, DE - Not sure if he's going to play but people talk about his relentless pursuit to the ball and to the QB. So let's see how that is.

Cornerback

#20 B.W. Webb - Let's see if he can shake off that rough rookie start. Reports are he came in this training camp more aggressive and improved overall.
#30 Terrance Mitchell - Here's a guy that has shown the NFL isn't too big for him so far in training camp, if he plays he will have to tone down that aggressive side just a bit.

Strong Safety/Free Safety

#38 Jeff Heath - Really looking to see if he can make strides from last season. He got plenty of playing time but looked overwhelmed.
#23 Jakar Hamilton - He was supposed to push J.J. Wilcox for his job, but he has yet to do so, and honestly, I never thought he would, but that's just one man's opinion.

Linebackers

#59 Anthony Hitchens - Haven't heard a lot from the rookie, but sometimes that can be a good thing. Lets see if he can stand out, in good way.
Those are my guys to watch in tonight's game. Give me your list of names to watch.
Follow me on Twitter @bleatherman2011



Brian has been a football junkie from the time he was 5 years old. He lives, eats and breathes the game. Brian is a college graduate living in the south who loves his faith, his family, and his Dallas Cowboys.

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3 Comments
  • NYCowboysFan

    What we do know is that the first string won’t play at all tonight.

    • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece

      Several first-teamers got in some reps tonight. All or nothing? Come on…

      Defense looked like shit, offense wasn’t much better. Dixon was knocking guys around but like Babe said, you don’t want your safety leading in tackles. Liked Vaughan and Weeden though. You?

      • NYCowboysFan

        I’m not worried about our offense once Tony, Dez, and Murray take the field, but our defense is going to suck big time once again…maybe worse than last year. Every game is going to be a shootout so at least it will be exciting. I was impressed with Weeden and Vaughn, but disappointed in the 2nd tier OL.

Game Notes

Why The Seahawks Will Be Looking Into A Mirror Against The Cowboys Sunday

Kevin Brady

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Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1
AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

For the better part of the last decade one defense has reigned supreme over the NFC. One defense has continually put their offense and team in position to win big games, including a dominant Super Bowl win over one of the more productive offenses in recent memory.

That defense, of course, belonged to the Seattle Seahawks.

With a secondary deemed as the "Legion of Boom" and a defensive line which rotated through Pro Bowl level talent routinely, the Seahawks bolstered one of the best defenses the NFL has ever seen. A defense which perfectly complimented the physical, run first philosophy their offense lived by.

Players like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, and Bobby Wagner will arguably be Hall of Famers one day, and they wreaked havoc on the conference for a strong 3-5 year stretch.

Now, however, things are changing.

Gone are many of the elite players which once bolstered the Seattle defense to top-tier status, and while some big names remain, the talent level simply isn't the same. The Seahawks missed the postseason a year ago, and now sit at 0-2 before their home opener today against the Cowboys.

Their window looks to be closed, while their opponent today is looking to build their defense (and team) in the mold of what once was in Seattle.

Former Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard has come to Dallas and brought with him a more aggressive defensive philosophy, one which he deployed successfully with the Seahawks. Under Richard the Cowboys are blitzing more often on third down than they have in the past under Rod Marinelli, they're utilizing more single high safety looks, and they are allowing their long and talented corners to do what they do best in coverage.

The Seahawks once leaned on a deep pass rush and long, physical secondary. The 2018 Cowboys are looking to do the same thing.

The Seahawks once leaned on a mobile quarterback to make plays with his feet while relying on a strong running game and one of the league's best backs. The 2018 Cowboys are looking to do the same thing.

Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie look like they were molded in a 2013-Seahawks lab as cornerbacks, and DeMarcus Lawrence is as productive as any pass rusher those defenses had. Of course, we aren't able to say the Cowboys have the consistent front four depth that those Seattle teams did or that they have the single high safety of Earl Thomas' caliber, but the preliminary pieces are clearly in place.

Today the Cowboys look to improve to 2-1 with a conference road win. But, they also look to bury the Seahawks in the past and take another step towards cementing themselves as one of the elite defenses in the NFC.

It won't happen over night, but anyone can see that the potential is there.



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Game Notes

Cowboys, Seahawks Week 3 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Offense: More Hot Sauce Needed From Cole Beasley 3
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Believe it or not, Seahawks Safety Earl Thomas isn't the only guy whose playing status is in question for today's game. Other key players for Seattle and the Dallas Cowboys appear on the teams' Week 3 injury reports.

The Cowboys are looking to move to 2-1 and maintain a slim lead in the NFC East. The Seahawks are still looking for their first win of 2018, and the drama around Thomas isn't helping the fear of a locker room implosion.

What players may not be out there to help their teams to victory?

Dallas Cowboys

  • C Travis Frederick (illness) - OUT
  • DT Maliek Collins (knee) - OUT
  • WR Cole Beasley (ankle) - Questionable
  • LB Sean Lee (hamstring) - Questionable
  • S Xavier Woods (hamstring) - Questionable

Frederick remains out as he deals with his neurological disease. Dallas decided to keep him on the 53-man roster, rather than place him on injured reserve, with the hope that he could return before Week 9. There are still several weeks before we'll know if that was a good move.

Maliek Collins will be out today after a minor knee injury suffered last week against the Giants. Taking his spot will be Datone Jones, who returns from his own knee issue after missing the first two games.

You don't like seeing your quarterback's favorite receiver and your defensive leader on the same injury report. Thankfully, though, it appears both Cole Beasley and Sean Lee will be available today.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

For the #Cowboys, WR Cole Beasley (ankle) is expected to play, and LB Sean Lee (hamstring) should be good to go, as well, based on how he moved around in practice on Friday, sources say.

Finally, we come to the ever-intriguing Xavier Woods. While limited in practice all week, Woods is expected to make his season debut in Seattle. We will see if Xavier gets the start at free safety, or if Dallas will ease him back in and keep Kavon Frazier starting for now.

With all of the hype around Dallas' possible acquisition of Earl Thomas, one has to hope that Xavier won't overdo it and make matters worse with his hamstring. Between the enthusiasm just to play and the threat to his starting job, the second-year stud should be pretty amped up.

Seattle Seahawks

  • WR Doug Baldwin (knee) - OUT
  • C/G Ethan Pocic (ankle) - OUT
  • LB K.J. Wright (knee) - OUT
  • C Justin Britt (shoulder) - Questionable
  • LB Mychal Kendricks (ankle) - Questionable
  • S Earl Thomas (???) - ???

Seattle remains without Baldwin, their leading receiver from 2014-2017, and it shows in their offensive play. QB Russell Wilson is currently at career lows in completion percentage and passer rating, plus has already thrown three interceptions in just two games.

The Seahawks have issues up front as well. Starting left guard Ethan Pocic will also miss today's game. With right guard D.J. Fluker returning this week after missing the first two, that will allow backup J.R. Sweezy to flip over to the other side.

If that wasn't enough, starting center Justin Britt missed the entire week of practice with a shoulder issue. He has not been ruled out, though. Regardless, those are a lot of red flags on your offensive line with the Cowboys' emerging defense coming to town.

Also out today will be Pro Bowl linebacker K.J. Wright. That means we could see Mychal Kendricks, who was just recently booted from Cleveland after being charged with insider trading, playing a major role today. Kendricks knows the Cowboys well, having played with the Eagles from 2012-2017.

And lastly, Earl Thomas.

No health or injury-related reason has been given for why Thomas missed practices on Wednesday and Friday. "Personal reasons" is all you're getting from Seattle, fueling rampant speculation that a trade is in the works. Whether or not that trade is with the Dallas Cowboys is pure conjecture at this point.

What we do know is that Seattle is 0-2 and trending down this year. Holding onto Thomas and his expiring contract, only to lose him for nothing next year in free agency, would be foolish.

We'll see if Earl plays at all today. If he doesn't, the trade talk is going to explode.



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Game Notes

Cowboys Wishlist: Dallas Cowboys VS. Seattle Seahawks

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Center Travis Frederick Still Hoping to "Be a Rock" for Teammates Despite GBS Syndrome

It's week 3 of the 2018 NFL season and this match-up already feels like one of the most important ones the Dallas Cowboys will play in the season. The reason why is they need to prove they're good enough to win consistently and that they won't have another year that feels like a roller coaster of wins and losses like 2017 did. As they travel to Seattle to face the 0-2 Seahawks, the 1-1 Cowboys can't miss a perfect opportunity versus one of the weakest units in football: the Seahawks' offensive line.

As every gameday, here is my Cowboys Wishlist for this week's action. As always, I encourage you to share your wishes with me in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL!

Meet Brett Maher, the Cowboys Kicker Replacing Dan Bailey for 2018

Dallas Cowboys K Brett Maher (Shanna Lockwood / USA TODAY Sports)

Wish #1: Brett Maher Kicks a 50+ yard FG.

Dan Bailey recently signed with the Minnesota Vikings. Cowboys Nation will experience a very odd feeling when they see their former kicker wear purple. If there's something that can make fans feel better is watching the guy who replaced Bailey nail a long field goal in Seattle.

Brett Maher showed he could kick a 47-yard FG in preseason, but we want to see him pull it off in a kick that will actually go down in the books. The decision to release Dan Bailey won't leave our minds until we see Maher do his job.

Wish #2: Rico Gathers Scores His First Career TD.

It felt like forever, but tight end Rico Gathers was activated for the first time in his career last Sunday. Rico didn't get his first catch even though he was targeted twice by Dak Prescott. The most notable moment was when Gathers seemed to be open in the endzone but Dak missed him.

Although Prescott's pass could've been better, Gathers did stumble a little bit and wasn't where he should've been to catch that touchdown. No worries, Rico's career is only beginning. I wish his first touchdown ever finally comes this week.

Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1

Dallas Cowboys CB Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie (AP Photo / Michael Ainsworth)

Wish #3: Defense Gets Its First Interception of the Year.

Through two weeks of NFL action, the Dallas Cowboys defense has been one of the most impressive units. Ranking as the third best in total points in the league, the Cowboys' defense might begin being the team's best side of the ball. At least, it has been for the first two weeks.

Last week, they limited Odell Beckham Jr. to only 51 yards. Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie have played pretty well so far, but I wish they're able to get their first interception of the year. Dallas has one takeaway from week 1 versus the Panthers, but it came in form of a fumble.

Let's get that interception from Russell Wilson, who will be pressured most of the day by a very productive Cowboys' front seven.

Wish #4: 20+ Point Performance

Despite a very exciting first drive versus the Giants last week, the Cowboys' offense still needs to prove it can be successful enough to win games. Scott Linehan's unit had some good drives but it also failed to maintain a consistent attack all game. That may seem okay, but the Cowboys will have to win against some pretty tough defenses.

Seahawks will present the team with a very interesting challenge and one that I wish they pass. As good as the defense is playing, the offense needs to show up in order to win later games.

Wish #5: Contain Russell Wilson

Wilson is one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the NFL. His agility might be the best among every other signal caller in the game, becoming a very tough guy to defend. He can hurt you with his arms and legs and can throw on the run pretty well. All week we've been talking about how sacking the Seahawks' QB is a key to the victory, but it's more than that.

Wilson is good in the pocket, but when he starts scrambling or running out of the pocket only to throw the ball once the defense is out of position, he becomes a pretty painful headache. The Cowboys need to put him on the ground, but they also need to contain him all day long. He's basically his team's entire offense.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Wishlist: Dallas Cowboys VS. Seattle Seahawks" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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