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Eatman: 3 Games Down & Still So Many Questions


ARLINGTON, Texas – On paper, we're three games into the preseason with one to play.

Realistically, the evaluation process for the team as a whole, is all but done.

Sure, the final exhibition game next Sunday against Jacksonville will give some of those bubble players a chance to make a difference, but as a collective unit, this is pretty much it until we get to Tampa Bay.

Scary? Well, yeah a little considering there are so many question marks.

And while you can try to spin it by saying Dak and Zeke have yet to play a snap, I'm not sure that's a good thing – at least not something to be excited about.

Of course, no one wants to see them get hurt in a preseason game – or any game for that matter – but the risk vs. reward is just not good even enough to put those guys out there for a game that doesn't count.

But by sitting, it doesn't exactly make them prepared to play either. That's just the ultimate dilemma that all teams must face every year. Do you try and build rapport and chemistry with a few preseason snaps together, knowing it's possible someone can turn an ankle, get rolled up on or perhaps even something worse.

Or do you just let them sit, keep the health issue out if it, and roll with it on Sept. 9.

Like anything in life, the Cowboys found a middle ground, proving once again that it's a case-by-case basis on handling playing time.

The starting offensive line got some work Saturday night – as did the starting receivers. But no Zeke and no Dak.

I can't say I have a problem with it to be honest. I don't remember Emmitt Smith doing much of anything in the preseason and he won rushing titles and carried the team on his back.

And with Dak, he actually benefitted from my next point. But we all saw the way Tony Romo was crunched over in Seattle during that 2016 preseason game – a year in which he just had to get a few snaps in because he had missed 12 games the year before with two collarbone injuries.

Did he really need that work? He thought he did, but he certainly didn't need to be broken in half by that chasing Seahawks defender.

Obviously, that play changed the course of the franchise as Dak Prescott stepped in and never looked back, starting every single game of his career until last year's ankle injury.

I'm sure, in Dak's mind he would like to get back on the field before the season opener. And from what we were told, the initial plan was to get him about 10-12 snaps for this game. But it sounds better three weeks ago than it did right now.

Right now, the best thing to hear is Dak is progressing nicely and is on track to play against the Bucs.

It sounds better to hear that Zeke is fresh and ready for the season opener again.

And if we flip to defense, the same goes for DeMarcus Lawrence, who we've seen on Hard Knocks more than we've seen on the field.

And again, totally fine with that.

We can't figure the 17-game schedule has to factor into the equation. I'm not saying use the early part of the season to find a groove for these players, but you'd rather see that than the alternative of getting hurt right now.

And if that means your team is 0-3 in the preseason without getting a real preview of what this team is going to be ... then that's what it means.

Training camp and the preseason is supposed to provide us with a lot of answers to questions we've formed throughout the summer.

But right now, we don't have them.

Still don't know if the offensive line is back to form just yet.

We still don't have a great understanding how the defensive line rotation will be. And yes the linebackers look pretty talented, how they will play together is a mystery.

I have no idea what's going to happen at safety – and that's continuing a streak that seems to date back to the Darren Woodson days. Time is running out for the Cowboys to make a decision there and I think there are about five or six players that all should and could make the team. But the Cowboys already have about 6-7 cornerbacks that are likely to make it. So something has to give in the secondary and I seriously doubt there will be more than 12 or 13 defensive backs on the final roster.

We don't much about the kicker situation since Greg Zuerlein has yet to kick in a game.

And oh yeah, we don't know if Zeke has fixed the fumbling issues. And we don't know how Dak has bounced back from the ankle injury and how he'll do with the shoulder strain.

Lots of things we still don't know and it doesn't seem like we will.

Because like it or not, the season is right around the corner, less than three weeks away.

The world-champion Bucs with all of their starters back, including arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, will be there waiting for the Cowboys.

That's at least one thing we do know.