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Broaddus: Dissecting First 4 Key Matchups

When I worked in the pro department for the Cowboys I would always sit down when the office was quiet and pick out two or three games to study just to get a feel for the upcoming opponents. I had a good understanding of the NFC East but there were several AFC teams that I might have see two or three years back so I always used my summer's to try and get a jump on the season. Now that I am with, I plan to go back and study like I did before. Here are some matchups I am looking forward to. We'll break the season up into four quarters, so here are some matchups to watch for the first four weeks of the season.

In Week 1, Giants defensive end Jason Pierre Paul against Tyron Smith. This will be Smith's regular season start at left tackle on the road against one of the best pass rushers in the NFL and to make more things difficult for Smith is the fact that the game is on the road. Pierre-Paul will test Smith from the word go. Smith will need to be technique solid to handle the explosiveness of Pierre-Paul and his ability to get up the field. I will be studying Smith hard in Oxnard to see how he deals with DeMarcus Ware on a daily basis for clues.

In Week 2, Seattle center Max Unger against Jay Ratliff. Unger was on the radar for the Cowboys to draft in the 2nd round of the 2009 draft until the Seahawks jumped ahead of the Cowboys on a trade with the Bears. There is no doubt in my mind that Unger would be the starter for the Cowboys if he had not ended up with the Seahawks. He is a powerful, mobile player that can handle his assignments one-on-one without fail. He can match Ratliff's quickness and strength inside. This will be an all day battle.

Week 3, Tampa Bay wide receiver Vincent Jackson against Morris Claiborne.  Jackson was a big ticket signing by the Bucs this past off season to try and give them a play maker on the outside for Josh Freeman. Jackson is a big, physical receiver that is outstanding at playing the ball in the air which is a strength for Claiborne as well. Claiborne will be coming off a game against the Giants receivers on opening day to now having to battle the talented Jackson.

Week 4, Chicago mike linebacker Brian Urlacher against Phil Costa. This has the potential to be a match up that could put the Cowboys in some bad situations. Urlacher is a sideline to sideline player plus he can be a thumper at the point of attack. Where Costa has struggled is his ability to be a second level player and keeping his sustain on blocks. Urlacher's ability to shed, then move will give Costa and these guards some problems. The scheme cannot allow Urlacher to roam free in fear that he could control the game.

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