By Zach Walker
Minnesota Vikings vs Dallas Cowboys
Saturday – August 29 – 6:00 PM CT
TV: CBS 11
AT&T Stadium – Arlington
I doubt I’m alone, but I’m really confident about this team’s defense. Its preseason, I know, but the pursuit that I see from defensive linemen, basically back-checking and extinguishing the play, that’s a trait that won’t go away, it’s imprinted within them. A major blow was dealt to the Cowboys this week, with Orlando Scandrick going down, and although with work, the Cowboys can replicate his coverage, but he’s the fire on that side of the ball, he is the Dez of the defense, and that might not be easily found. For all the positive flashes from the defense, the offense was just flat out anemic. They pulled Romo out of the fire after a single pass, then let Brandon Weeden flounder around, watched him get knocked out of the game, then Dustin Vaughan. Man, Dustin Vaughan looked really not good. Just poor decision making, poor ball placement, and I know, his protection wasn’t very good, but he looked all-over bad.
Cowboys to Watch
#1: DE DeMarcus Lawrence (#90) – If you’ve watched the preseason, you’ve seen Randy Gregory kick ass, and that’s as subtle as I can put it. Now I want to see his stable mate get some. Where I’ve seen Gregory use his power to go with his speed, I want to see the power of power from Lawrence. Lawrence finished the playoffs strong, a sack per game, and looked like the pillar that the Cowboys were going to lean for their pass rush, then they went all in this offseason to aide their rush, now Lawrence must show his brand of hunt.
#2: CB Corey White (#23) – Rather than lean on rookie first round corner Byron Jones, the player I expect to soak up most of Scandrick’s play will be Corey White. He looked strong against San Francisco, and going back to his New Orleans days, he was a solid third corner, and I don’t think the Cowboys will stretch White’s responsibility to limits beyond him being the third corner.
#3: RB Joseph Randle (#21) – The blocking wasn’t good, but Randle was on display in Santa Clara during last week’s game. Seven rushes for 30 yards, and big time burst on every play. However many snaps Darren McFadden plays is just the bonus and break time for Joseph Randle, because Randle is going to be the Cowboys bell cow this season. His runs are too strong, his cuts are scapula sharp, and he knows the ball needs to go forward.
#4: OL La’el Collins (#71) – During the game, La’el Collins looked pretty not good, but that could have been Darrion Weems’ awful play hurting Collins by proxy. Collins might be playing in Zack Martin’s right guard position for the dry run, depending on if they want to give Martin the extra injury rest, which they should. Collins isn’t in any danger of not making the team, but maybe he’ll have to sit and brew a while before he’s totally 100 percent ready to play on meaningful Sundays, unless he shows some bull dozing ability on Saturday night.
#5: LB Sean Lee (#50) – If it were me, I’d wrap Sean Lee in bubblewrap and packing peanuts, and put him back in his box, because without him, the team just seems to have to strain to replace him. Of course, I understand, he needs to get his work in, or else that first hit may be his last. He’s such an important commodity to the Cowboys defensively, with Orlando Scandrick going down, the Cowboys seriously need to keep the leash tight on Sean Lee, and not let him stray too far into this game.
Vikings to Watch
#1: QB Teddy Bridgewater (#7) – Bridgewater got destroyed by draft pundits, for a poor pro day pre-draft, then by the end of the season last year, he was the third most accurate rookie quarterback of all time. Bridgewater has got successful people around him to help make him the player the Vikings hope he can become. A defensive head coach in Mike Zimmer, a successful offensive coordinator in Norv Turner, and a running back that is big time in Adrian Peterson. The team is young, and has potential to steal that wild card spot at the end of the year.
#2: LB Anthony Barr (#55) – Anthony Barr is a play-maker in the making, a couple of forced fumbles, a handful of sacks (4) a season ago, and 70 total tackles. He’s got great size, speed, and moves, he’s an athlete. In year two, like the rest of his young team, Barr is going to need to ramp up the intensity to help get his team into position to grab that wild card at the end of the year.
Prediction: Minnesota 27 – Dallas 20: If it’s as bad as the San Fran game, Garrett might spend time watching tape while ripping phone books in half.