What to Watch for in Cowboys’ Final Preseason Game

    Later today the Dallas Cowboys' 2021 will end with a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. While many of this year's players will not be playing today, others who are still competing for roster spots could be facing a critical moment. What are some of the biggest things to watch for in the preseason finale?

    A great problem to have; Dallas has at least a few bubble guys at almost every position that you'd hate to see go. Let's go through the roster and just quickly glance at each position and see whose future hangs in the balance, perhaps being decided by today's game.


    First and foremost is the battle for . was the favorite coming into August but narrowed the gap and now they appear to be in an open competition. Will Rush continue his strong play from last week to claim the job, or will Gilbert bounce back and finish this preseason where he started?

    While he may not be a factor for QB2 at this point, 's future could depend on today's game as well. Do the Cowboys still see last year's 7th-Round pick as a worthy developmental player or could they be ready to dump him for a new project?

    Running Backs

    Rico Dowdle's season ended this week with a move to IR and perhaps opened the door for JaQuan Hardy or Brenden Knox to make the roster. Dowdle was the heavy favorite to be the third RB and contributor.

    Because of Dowdle's additional special teams value, RB3 isn't a guaranteed spot on the 2021 roster. The Cowboys have rolled with just and Tony Pollard before and could do so again, especially if it allows them to go long at WR/TE or keep a true in rookie Nick Ralston.

    Ralston has been impressive since 's injury and has another game to build momentum toward final cuts. With experience as a small TE in college and his own special teams value, the UDFA may be a more valuable piece in 2021 than either of the RB prospects.

    Wide Receiver

    There doesn't seem like much to discuss here. We know who the top five are and Dallas isn't going to risk on waivers. You don't see 4th-Round picks cut that often as rookies and Fehoko has done enough to warrant some protection.

    Tight End

    Similar story here; Jarwin, Schultz, and Sprinkle are locks as your top three after 's ankle injury. The big question is if Dallas will carry McKeon on the 53-man roster as they did last year or go ahead and put him on IR as one of their cutdown moves.

    Remember, a player has to be on the roster after final cuts and then placed on IR if the team wants him to be eligible for a midseason return. We could see Dallas cut someone temporarily, put McKeon on IR, and then re-sign that player to facilitate it.

    Offensive Line

    The starters are set and thankfully ready to go for Week One. The one backup you can count on is Connor McGovern but the rest of the depth chart seems to be up in the air. While Ty Nsekhe would seem the favorite to be swing , none of the options have really stood out yet and this game could be the deciding factor.

    Defensive End

    Dorance Armstrong appears to have locked down a roster spot but what about the rest of the DE reserves? Tarell Basham was injured during camp so can't be placed on PUP; Dallas will likely have to carry him on the 53 until he's ready to returns soon from an ankle injury.

    With rookie probably starting the year on PUP, prospects and Ron'Dell Carter have strong chances at making the roster to start 2021. But if the Cowboys can't carry a sixth DE then this final game could be the final showdown between them for one roster spot.

    Defensive Tackle

    While being without Trysten Hill and losing have been tough for the DT position, rookies Osa Odighizuwa and appear ready to contribute immediately. Dallas will have to decide how they want to handle Gallimore's absence and anything these newcomers do to either increase or decrease the team's confidence could sway them.

    Even if it's only temporary, a guy like can also seal his fate today in terms of final cuts. He may only have a spot until Hill or Gallimore return but at least can keep Dallas from looking around the wire.


    While we talk a lot about this position there's not much that today's game will change. We know who's making the roster and, yes, that includes Jaylon Smith, But will Smith be the fifth and final LB this year or will Dallas keep six?

    If there is a point of intrigue it's probably thanks to “” and the featuring of Azur Kamara. I thin Luke Gifford is your sixth LB if there's going to be one at all, but Kamara is the guy with the best shot at bumping him out.


    If the Cowboys keep six cornerbacks then there's a pretty safe bet on who they'll be: , , , Maurice Canady, Kelvin Joseph, and . But will the team be able to keep six with needs at other positions, plus C.J. Goodwin likely commanding a spot as your top special teamer?

    If someone has to go from this group then it could be the biggest shock of final cuts. That choice could come down to how they perform, and who stays healthy, in this preseason finale.


    Damontae Kazee and appear to have the starting jobs locked down. hasn't been here enough to claim either starting job yet but will likely get rotated in a lot during the season.

    That leaves , Darian Thompson, and Israel Mukuamu vying for the last 1-2 spots at . If it's two it'll likely be one of the veterans and Mukuamu as a valuable developmental player. But if the numbers don't allow for a fifth safety, Mukuamu may have to spend his rookie year on the .

    Special Teams

    will see his first preseason action after recovering from a back issue and getting back to work this week. We may see Dallas kick more often than a typical preseason game just to give the veteran a few extra real-game reps before Week One.

    One thing we don't appear to have yet at clearly established kickoff and punt returners for 2021. Could one of the RB or WR prospects make a push for a roster spot with a dazzling return against Jacksonville?

    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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    Nick Foles is being floated around as a target. Think that would be a good move considering our present QB2 players. Philly just picked up Minshew, to give them THREE potential STARTERS. We have one (coming off two injuries), and if he goes down…

    Again we have some weakness at the DT position with the injuries to Gallimore and Hill. Hill is a semi bust anyway, IMO. Can’t stay on the field, maturity issues, bad draft pick from jump. Hopefully Osa O can makeup the slack. We lucked out getting Parsons AND Cox. MUCH NEEDED. Collins “stinger”?

    Cowboy Fan Ed

    Hey Van I know that we have beat this dead horse to death about a back up QB for our boys but for the life of me why can’t we sign somebody that is better than what we have? I know I suggested TT last week which I truly believe would be an upgrade to anyone we have now! How about RGlll is he with any team now if not he would be better than anybody we have now? NF would most definitely be better than what we have now! There again if Dak goes down the boys season will go down with him!!


    What do I see based on all of the preseason games? 6 and 11 at best. The defense again is ineffective as swiss cheese and cannot stop anything. The offense without the 1st team absolutely sucks and push the ball forward into any discernable score. The team looks bad, so much so I would venture to say that they don’t have a chance except that they are playing in the worst division. So there is some minimal hope. Let’s face it…teams that win at least one preseason game are still better because teams that win with their underlings demonstrate that their team has risen above the others who cannot….it factually shows quality and teamwork as well as potential and capability that cements itself into winning rather that being complete losers. Prove me wrong Dallas! It’s a joke.


    Agree CF Ed, sounds risky to me, playing with fire. Hope we don’t get burned.


    I am not taking anything from this preseason into consideration when trying to guess what the Boys final record will be. We never got a look at the actual starting unit on either side of the ball. The thing I am worried about is cohesion and continuity when the lights come on against Tampa. They are really trusting the practice process to bring this team together and have them clicking for the start of the season. This team cannot afford to have a few games to tune up. If they go 1-2 in the opening three games the media wolves will start tearing this team to pieces.