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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
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.
#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.
#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.
#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