ARLINGTON, Texas – The NFL never wants teams to talk about who is going to play in this last preseason game because the league thinks it might hurt attendance or TV ratings.
I think by now you guys know the deal. In fact, while it's not fun to go to a game and watch mostly backups, the die-hard fans don't want to risk the key players getting hurt this close to the start of the season.
But meaningless? That's not the right word to describe this game because there is definite meaning for some players.
In fact, there are about 10-12 guys on each team who will probably never suit up in another organized football game again after Thursday night. So there will be a few players and their families who will remember this one forever.
But in terms of the 2016 season, Thursday's preseason finale was a final chance for a few bubble players to play their way on – or off – the team.
By now, I would say 47-48 guys are already on the Cowboys for sure. In fact, our count from the press box was 28 players who were healthy scratches for the game. So this came down to just a handful of spots. And don't forget, it's not just a few spots among these players, but the rest of the league when the final cuts come across the wire on Saturday.
Ok, that being said, I came up with three players who, in my opinion, made the team based off what we saw on Thursday night.
[embeddedad0]Jameill Showers – I know I like this guy way more than others do. And if you just caught the end of Thursday's game, this opinion probably won't be shared by many.
But I just think he's got something. I don't what it is exactly, but its' something. It's poise, it's arm strength, it's playmaking ability, it's agility in the pocket. He's going to get better with time, and I would absolutely hate for the Cowboys to develop him and then have someone snatch him away if you tried to cut him and put him on the practice squad.
And if you're thinking, "Will another team really claim him off waivers and make him the No. 3?" just look back to the past. A few years ago, the Cowboys tried to sneak Alex Tanney to the practice squad and he got claimed. Way before that, the same happened with Matt Moore, who has been a veteran backup for nearly 10 years now.
Teams like quarterbacks with traits and Showers has plenty of them. I know it's a scary deal to make him No. 2 for the Giants game, but assuming you're not waiting on Romo for another eight weeks, then I would keep him as the backup.
Again, it's not so much about him being ready to play for this game. But after two years, I think his development has been good enough to hang onto. And cutting him surely doesn't guarantee he would be back.
Darius Jackson – Maybe he was already going to make this team. Let's not forget, the Cowboys had no real reason to draft him in the sixth round. Ezekiel Elliott was already in the fold, along with veterans Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden, plus Lance Dunbar. So why draft him at all? Maybe because he could actually play.
And through these four preseason games, Jackson showed he's got some ability. He's strong, he's quick and he's got pretty good vision – something he displayed on that touchdown catch in the first quarter.
He can play special teams as well, and I think that even gets him to the game. Stephen Jones called it a "good situation" and not a problem when dealing with this surplus of tailbacks. They'll figure it out, but I would imagine Jackson sticks around.
Lawrence Okoye– This last spot was a tough one for me. If you're wondering where Anthony Brown is, he already made this team before Thursday night. Yes, that interception sealed his fate and might have kept him on the game-day roster, but he was already the fourth corner.
As for Okoye, he was all over the field. At the defensive tackle spot, he recorded seven tackles, including one for loss. He also can kick out to defensive end at times. Personally, I think he gives the team a better player than Ryan Russell, and although Russell was a draft pick last year, he hasn't taken advantage of his opportunities. The Cowboys already have to play that "you're a draft pick" game with Charles Tapper. I think Russell should get cut in favor of Okoye.
That's my three guys for this game. I would keep Showers, Jackson and Okoye. Obviously Brown is going to make it and I would think safety Kavon Frazier could sneak on this roster, too. And maybe this team needs to at least save a practice squad spot for Derek Akunne, who made 10 tackles.
Of course, we'll find out on Saturday at 3 p.m. when the roster gets trimmed to 53.