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Eatman: What We Didn't See Gave Us Some Answers


HOUSTON – We made it.

The preseason is now officially over and mercifully, we can at least turn our attention to the games that will officially matter.

Of course, there is some business to take care of between now and then, starting Saturday when the roster is cut down to 53 players.

Now, what we saw in Thursday's 14-6 loss to the Texans, didn't really affect a ton of positions on the roster.

But if you read between the lines, or the player participation chart, you can find a few things out that you've been wanting to know.

With this game, it came down to a few things you didn't see, rather than things that transpired on the field.

Let's start with the wide receiver position. To me, it was pretty simple: Lance Lenoir played the whole game. Deonte Thompson didn't play at all. And even further to that, Lenoir really didn't do much despite getting a lot of opportunities on both punt return and at receiver.

So that means that Thompson is probably your sixth receiver. And personally, it makes sense to go that route. I've watched a lot of Lenoir now for a couple of years and I just don't see a scenario where the Cowboys are going to utilize him in a game setting. He's been pretty good, but nothing really stands out in a specific trait.

That's not the case for Thompson, who might be the fastest player on the team. He has been clocked in the 4.2 range and he's a legitimate deep threat, unlike Tavon Austin, who does his best work going side to side. Thompson was hurt for most of camp with a hamstring injury but he seemed to get healthy just in time to make some plays in the final week of practice. The fact he didn't play Thursday suggested he's either not fighting for a spot or they could have some plans to trade him. It's probably not the latter.

Another thing we didn't see was action from Antwaun Woods. And for him, that seems like a good thing. Who would've thought that Woods would be in the position for preseason game #4 to be sitting out and chewing on sunflower seeds because his spot is secured.

Heading into the game, most of us thought Woods would make this team because he's stood out in a major way on the line, and he's one of the true nose tackles this team has. But the fact he got no reps at all, and a guy like Michael Gallup played the first half, just shows what they think of Woods.

Here is the young guy standing on the sidelines while veterans Jihad Ward, Kony Ealy and Brian Price play into the third quarter.

And lastly, by now it's been talked about a lot, but the fact we didn't see Charvarius Ward at all meant something had to be up. And it was, or in Ward's case, on the way out. The Cowboys decided to trade him to Kansas City – likely for an offensive lineman. The details of the trade should be finalized on Friday, and that's when it will be official.

As for Ward, the undrafted rookie came on strong to begin camp but didn't have a lot of highlights in the preseason games. He came out with the team in warmups and I think the plan was for him to get some first-team snaps to start the game. But after the trade talks started to materialize, it was clear Ward would not be in the lineup. By halftime, he was wearing a Cowboys warm-up suit. And he left with the team to fly back to Dallas Thursday night still wearing Cowboys gear, but obviously was aware of the situation and excited about another opportunity.

So what does that mean at corner? For now, it means Duke Thomas or Marquez White have the inside track for the fifth spot. However, it's very likely that of all the corners released by other teams on Saturday, there's a good chance one of them will be better than both Thomas or White.

Yes, I'm a little surprised they let go of Ward. I really like his size and toughness and he's always in the right spot. He was raw, but aren't they all when you get a rookie cornerback who isn't drafted.

Obviously, we'll find out what the Cowboys are truly thinking here in less than 48 hours. It'll probably go into Sunday and maybe Monday before it's all sorted out.

This is finally the fun time of the year. Thursday night, was not part of that. Not a lot of fun at all because just so little of what we saw will affect this team.

As we've pointed out, we learned more from this game by the things we didn't see.