CANTON, Ohio – The Cowboys are about to play their second game in six days, but this time you can expect to see a little more from the veterans.
Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware, Jason Witten and fellow starters will likely get a series, maybe two. Then it’ll be back to the backups and other hopefuls trying to turn enough heads to make the team.
With a full roster of 90 players, there are plenty of guys to be watching out for. Once again, the staff of DallasCowboys.com will focus on two players each to evaluate throughout the game, followed by a review of their performances afterward.
Let’s check out the staff writers will be following closely in Friday’s game with the Raiders.
Doug Free, RT: Free has gotten a lot of praise for his improved play during training camp, and he was on the starting offensive line that ran the ball so well Sunday against Miami. This time, he’s going to be defending Romo, and he’s probably going to be playing a little bit longer than just five or six plays. It’ll be interesting to see how he holds up with a larger sample size.
Sterling Moore, CB: Morris Claiborne looks like a scratch for this game, and the starters aren’t going to get a lot of playing time anyway. Moore has probably looked the best of the corners behind the trio of Claiborne, Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick. I expect he’ll see a lot of the field, and if he plays like he practices, he should do pretty well.
Dante Rosario, TE: While we’re still trying to figure out how the Cowboys are going to use these tight ends, it’s clear that some of them are getting work in the H-back role, especially with no fullback on the roster. Rosario has worked with the first-team offense around the goal-line. I’m anxious to see him in the backfield but also as a regular tight end. Witten, Hanna and Escobar all have a spot on this team it seems but I get the feeling Rosario is going to do enough where he’ll have to be included as well.
George Selvie, DE: Well someone has to say it. We probably all will be watching this guy to see if he can duplicate that stellar showing last week. And that’s really what the NFL is all about. Everyone can have a moment in the sun. But can you do it again? Another game like last Sunday for Selvie and he could easily be a guy that now fits into the rotation, perhaps even ahead of Kyle Wilber.
Lance Dunbar – The former North Texas running back got the first series in the Hall of Fame Game and not much else. It shows just how far he’s come, because he was treated like the No. 2 back and a valuable commodity behind DeMarco Murray. I expect to see more work for him this week. He’s said he sees himself as a complete back rather than a change of pace or specialty player. If he can run between the tackles for long gains and pass protect this week, he could receive a bigger workload when it matters.
Ernie Sims – With the addition of Justin Durant this year, the versatility of Alex Albright and selection of DeVonte Holloman, sometimes veteran Ernie Sims can be forgotten. He’s made sure that doesn’t happen much this camp. The 4-3 was always thought to be the better fit for Sims, and he looks quick in it during camp. He needs to have some of those types of plays translate to the game as well. I think he makes this team, but if he can stay around the ball in a game as he does in practice, it will help his cause.
Dwayne Harris - I didn't think that Harris played all that well last week against the Dolphins overall and this surprised me because he had shown some nice things in camp before the game. The third down on the opening drive, on the slant play is a catch and conversion that he makes all day but it appeared like he stopped on the route and then tried to restart thus putting himself in a bad position for the ball. With Terrence Williams once again out for this game against Oakland, it’s another opportunity to show Derek Dooley what he can do if put in the mix. I expected a more productive and complete game from Harris this week to put pressure on Williams.
Nick Hayden - Through these last several weeks of practice and what I have observed in minicamp practices back in Dallas, that the defensive coaches have taken a likening to Hayden and his work so far this season. With Jay Ratliff out until the team returns home, Jason Hatcher has been playing the under tackle while Sean Lissemore and Hayden have been working at the nose. This week, the coaches have put Hayden with the first defense to see how he would be paired with Hatcher. The move is not because Lissemore has been terrible in anyway but more about finding rotational players inside for when Ratliff returns to the lineup. Hayden has shown plenty of ability so far in his opportunity but will he make this front office and coaching staff play him more than Lissemore? I am going to watch and find out.