IRVING, Texas – There is a perception out there about this last preseason game and how meaningless it might be.
From the standpoint of watching Dez Bryant make a highlight catch or DeMarcus Ware rush the quarterback or any other starter doing anything significant … no, this game won't be featuring any of that.
For the first-teamers, helmets and eye-black will be traded for ball caps and sunflower seeds.
But tell Anthony Armstrong this game is meaningless. Or maybe a player like Sterling Moore.
Thursday's game with the Texans won't have the same dress-rehearsal feel of the one played four days earlier against the Bengals, but it still has some value to players trying to get off the bubble and onto the roster.
And with about 20-25 players likely not even suiting up, there will be tons of playing time Thursday for these roster hopefuls.
But I wanted to focus on three player vs. player battles that need to be settled. Two of them can be decided on the field Thursday night. One of them will probably be determined by financial reasons.
Again, this is just my assessment. I could be pitting a couple of players who might both make the team or both might be left off. But from what I'm seeing and hearing, I think it's going to come down to these either-or situations.
Cole Beasley vs. Anthony Armstrong – With four tight ends on the roster and maybe even five if Andre Smith sneaks on, the Cowboys likely can't keep six receivers this year. It'll come down to the fifth guy, and I think it's between Beasley and Armstrong. Both of them are niche players and the Cowboys must decide which "niche" is more important.
Is it Beasley's route-running and ability to be a possession receiver from the slot? Or is it Armstrong's unmatched speed and his ability to play on all special teams units?
This is a tough one. I like Beasley's game. I know the Cowboys regret giving up on Danny Amendola and have thoughts Beasley could end up like that. Then again, he's pretty much a one-dimensional player who plays one spot.
Armstrong is 30 years old and calls himself a journeyman. He's not really someone you can develop. However, he's got speed that no one else has on this team.
If it comes down to these two, I think I'm going with Armstrong. If one of the starters gets banged up, Armstrong can fill in better than Beasley on the outside. And since the Cowboys have a guy similar to Beasley in Dwayne Harris, that's the direction I would lean in this either-or situation.
Micah Pellerin vs. Sterling Moore – I think we all might have chuckled a few weeks ago if anyone said Pellerin had a shot to beat out Moore. But with one game to play, I think Pellerin has possibly taken the lead on Moore, a player the DallasCowboys.com staff writers voted as an honorable mention for Top-10 training camp players. Now Moore is going to need a good game Thursday night to beat out Pellerin, who just keeps showing up game by game and practice by practice.
Moore was easy to like because of how he jumped into the fire last year after being signed off the Patriots practice squad, getting himself ready to play in 48 hours. That's something head coach Jason Garrett said he's never seen before. Not only did Moore play, but held up rather well.
This is a tough call and I think the Cowboys would be good either way. But I think I'd go with Moore, only because he's a little more versatile in that he can play the slot. Pellerin also has practice-squad eligibility, but I could see him getting claimed by another team. [embedded_ad]
Eric Frampton vs. Danny McCray – This battle is a little different. Frampton is banged up with a calf injury and McCray might not even play much Thursday night.
This comes down strictly to special teams ability and finances. McCray has been the Cowboys' better special teams player the last three years. In fact, he's one of the better players on special teams in the last decade. But Frampton has the edge on him as a safety.
And when it comes to money, McCray's $1.323 million salary for this year will be a factor. Frampton's $715,000 salary could be the difference-maker in this decision.
Then again, because the special teams have struggled in the preseason, the Cowboys might need to keep both. The Cowboys like McCray on special teams, but don't exactly like his price tag.
Factoring into this equation will be Matt Johnson and Jeff Heath – a couple of young safeties the Cowboys will need to make tough decisions on. That's why keeping Frampton AND McCray is unlikely.