By Zach Walker
Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins
Saturday – August 23 – 6:00 p.m.
TV: KTVT/CBS 11
Sun Life Stadium – Miami
What should fans expect to see on Saturday?
Expect to see Tony Romo only the first half. It used to be that the starters would play into the second half of the third preseason game, but those days aren’t here, and even if they are, no team with a quarterback over 32 years old is going to learn anything new about their established starter. But that goes for the entire offense, when Romo’s night is over, pack it up, and start getting ready for the season opener against the 49ers.
Brandon Carr for the first time. Awful off-the-field circumstances kept him away from the team for most, if not all, of camp in Oxnard, but now, this defense needs a veteran’s savvy. With Claiborne missing another preseason game, Carr should be a welcomed sight to the secondary.
What fans should be looking for?
Pressure on Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins gave up 58 sacks last season, and it was a major point of emphasis in this offseason for them to go out and improve the protection for Tannehill. They signed Brandon Albert, but this is still a very shaky offensive line, that should be beatable. If the Cowboys can’t get pressure on Tannehill, it’ll be a major problem that likely can’t be remedied before the start of the season.
Real power running plays from the offense. Last week, the Cowboys got the ball to DeMarco Murray in various ways against the Ravens, but to see how everything is going to mesh, the line, the backs, they want to keep running the ball to sustain drives, they need to get Murray and others running with a head of steam.
Two players on each side of the ball to watch for
Tony Romo – An easy out, but an extended game simulation is going to be great for him and his rehab. Cameron Wake can provide Tyron Smith a nice workout, and could raise Romo’s pulse if not shut down.
Terrance Williams – Dez was sick last week, but Williams has been less than featured this preseason, and for the second year receiver, more reps means less focus on Dez and with his speed, possibly rolled deep coverage to his side.
Anthony Hitchens – Apparently, he took all the first team reps at middle linebacker in practice, so let’s see how the starting pants fit. He flashed in San Diego, but wasn’t as involved in the Ravens game. This defense needs a center piece, here’s hoping that he shines.
JJ Wilcox – He needs to make more plays like he did when he popped Steve Smith on a third down, and jarred the ball loose for an incompletion. It’s difficult for a team to lean on a second year, small school player, who’s still learning the position, but that’s the way it is, and he needs to grip his role because it’s vital in this defense.
Position Groups to Watch
Linebackers – A hammer blow to the entire team, when the Cowboys announced that Devonte Holloman’s football career is coming to a close, but for the linebackers, it’s just “same $%#!, different day” and an already thin group is getting thinner by the week. Leaders emerge through adversity, and there’s plenty of it.
Special Teams – An extra point with some drama on it and a kickoff returned almost as far as it can be from the back of the end zone for a touchdown. The offense is carrying this team, the defense is shaking itself out, so the special teams can’t afford to handicap the team, but I’m expecting that to have been an adjustment problem, so I assume Rich Bisaccia will be all over this issues.
A smig and a half about the Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins’ Charles Clay is one of the best football players in the league for bringing it all to the table, position flex, great skills, willing blocker, he’s like a Swiss-army knife. Ryan Tannehill has got room to grow as a quarterback, and I feel, doesn’t get enough respect. Knowshon Moreno brings a veteran presence to the backfield, but is currently battling injury.