PHOENIX – The Cowboys have broken training camp and arrived in Arizona for the third exhibition game of the preseason.
Coach Jason Garrett said the first-teamers will play more than they did last week in Oakland, meaning we should see the starters get into the second quarter.
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 Saturday’s game with the Cardinals.
David Arkin - With an injury once again with the offensive line at guard, David Arkin steps into fill the void at left guard. Arkin has had the type of summer that many in the front wished that he would have had his rookie season when he was drafted three years ago. For Arkin, nothing has been easy but he has developed into a better player over the past season where there appeared to be little or no hope. In this camp, he has shown the ability to handle blocks at all levels with better power but more importantly, he has been able to finish them. Until Ronald Leary returns from his knee scope, he is your starter and deserves my attention.
Jakar Hamilton - There is a solid reason that Jakar Hamilton is on this team because of where he sat on the Cowboys draft board. If you go back in his men like Tony Romo and Miles Austin were in the same boat as Hamilton, who is trying to make a squad much those players did their rookie year. Hamilton has flashed at times in this scheme but not enough to say that he clearly has a spot on this team. With no Matt Johnson and J.J. Wilcox, Hamilton and Jeff Heath should see plenty of action in the game against the Cardinals. Where Hamilton needs to show up is on special teams as well much like Eric Frampton did last season. I believe that this front office will keep five safeties and right now, Hamilton needs to fight his way on this roster.
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.
Dwayne Harris, WR: I couldn’t have given you one significant play Harris has made during training camp up until Thursday’s two minute drill, when he tallied 30 yards and a receiving touchdown. But it’s probably worth noting: Harris made those plays with the second-team offense. If he’s going to hold onto his job as the Cowboys’ No. 3 wide receiver, he’d probably do well to make some plays against the Cardinals.
Nick Hayden, DT: The recent injury to Sean Lissemore puts even more attention on Hayden, who is going to get even more playing time with the first unit against Arizona. With Jay Ratliff and Lissemore not participating, Hayden has a real opportunity to stand out and show why the Cowboys want him on their defensive line rotation. He has already made an impression in his first two preseason games – more playing time will hopefully yield more of that.
Terrance Williams, WR: Of course we’ll be watching this guy. He hasn’t played yet in the preseason but he’ll get a few snaps – maybe even the entire first half. The Cowboys want to see him with the starters but also as the main guy once the first-teamers exit. Williams has had a great week of practice and it’ll be interesting to see if it translates to the field against a talented secondary in Arizona.
Bruce Carter, LB: For some reason, he’s been somewhat of a forgotten man on this defense. He’s made a few plays in camp but nothing outstanding. Carter’s speed and athleticism usually shows up more in the games, so I’ll be watching him closer than I have so far in the preseason. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cowboys send him on a blitz, like they did with Lee last week.
Phillip Tanner, RB: I would have considered Tanner a longshot to make the team this year given the depth at the position and how valued Lance Dunbar’s role seems to be in the offense, but Tanner isn’t allowing himself to be looked over this camp and through the preseason. Tanner’s had two relatively strong preseason games, and he needs to keep running with that same force this week and maybe contribute with a play on special teams to warrant keeping four backs. At this point, if he keeps playing the same way, it’d be hard to leave him off the 53.
Brandon Magee, LB: A lot was made of bringing in Magee after the draft was over. The Cowboys seemed to value the undrafted player more than the typical free agent, and I’ve expected to see more plays from him through the preseason than what’s occurred so far. Too often the second- and third-team linebackers have allowed big runs. It’ll be a tough decision whether or not to keep some of the backup middle linebackers on this team when dwindling down the roster. The Cowboys have tried working Magee in at weak side linebacker, and I want to see if that’s a better fit.