ARLINGTON, Texas – Twelve thoughts – both good and bad – that I observed from the radio booth during the Cowboys' preseason home opener against the Vikings.
1.I have said this before and I will say it again: Darren McFadden is the best running back on this team. If this staff is looking for that complete back like they had with DeMarco Murray, McFadden is the man that needs to start. His running style and physical skills are perfect for this scheme, and if given the opportunity, he will silence those critics that believed he could no longer play.
2.It's hard to imagine a better fit in this scheme at Will linebacker than Sean Lee. The fact that he is now free to run to the ball and he doesn't have to take on blocks at the point of attack is exactly what he needed. The amount of wear and tear it will save on him will surly help him, but they are also putting him in position where he can make a ton of plays.
3.Scott Linehan might want to find more ways to get Terrance Williams the ball on the move in this offense. There is something about his ability to separate across the field that makes him more difficult to cover than when he takes his routes up the field. Williams is sneaky with his speed, but I believe he also catches the ball better.
4.I counted three different defensive spots that Byron Jones played against the Vikings. He was a cornerback, a safety and a nickel linebacker. Even with the loss of Orlando Scandrick, I see no reason why we won't continue to see him get this type of work. But my gut feeling is that he will most likely end up as a safety.
5. Despite his holding call early in the game, I was impressed with the way Ronald Leary played. On the play, he was a step slow to get to the second level and it caused him to have to grab his man -- but that was the only issue I saw. Both he and Tyron Smith worked very well together and there were several times where they were secure on their run blocks, but they also kept their men along the line of scrimmage.
6. I am still not sure that the fifth wide receiver is on this squad. The staff is giving Lucky Whitehead every opportunity to win the job, and even though he had a touchdown reception, there still is a side of me that wants to believe there might be better guy out there when we get down to these final cuts.
7.Count Andrew Gachkar as an option at Mike linebacker as this club looks to replace Rolando McClain for the first four weeks of the season. Where I think that Gachkar is different from Anthony Hitchens and Kyle Wilber is that he plays with more stoutness at the point of attack than the other two. I don't believe I would like him to play the entire season there, because I believe he might get worn down. But if for just a short time, he could give you what you need.
8.I just have a feeling that if it comes down to Lavar Edwards and Ben Gardner for that four-game roster spot while Greg Hardy is suspended, Edwards is going to win the shot. He is more active with his rush, and when it comes to defending the run, Edwards gives you a better defender at the point.
9. I continue to like what I have seen from Davon Coleman at that nose tackle spot, even with Terrell McClain back in the rotation this game. There is no doubt that Nick Hayden will be the starter, but what I am struggling with is how this staff might evaluate the backup for that spot? Coleman has proven to be reliable at least through this camp, while McClain has had to deal with injuries and missing time. If it comes down to one or the other, the scouting side of me wants to see Coleman get the opportunity to be a part of this rotation.
10. I am looking forward to sitting down on Sunday and studying the game tape to see how Morris Claiborne played against the Vikings. My initial reaction I feel will be a positive one. He played with a willingness as a tackler and with solid technique when he was asked to cover.
11. I just don't see this club keeping a third quarterback -- whether it's Dustin Vaughan or Jameill Showers. I don't see how they will be able to commit a roster spot to that position. If Showers makes this team, he will be listed as the third quarterback but he will likely be a jack-of-all trades player.
12. Last week I was keeping four tight ends -- now I am not so sure. I am starting to believe that there are other positions where I might want to carry an extra body that could help me more during the season. Defensive line and linebacker come to mind.