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Mailbag: Anything different for second game?

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Not that long ago, the third preseason game (the second to last on the preseason schedule) was the "dress-rehearsal" game where the starters would see significant action to work out the kinks. Now that the preseason has been reduced to three games and, at least in the Cowboys case, most of the starters don't even play, is this second preseason game approached any differently by the coaching staff? Or is it just another chance to evaluate the young guys? – *Ronald Miller/Charlotte, NC *

Nick Eatman: I don't know about other teams, but I think the "dress rehearsal" for the Cowboys has pretty much gone. Honestly, the addition of the 17th regular season game, and the extra week off between the preseason finale and Week 1 is probably the reason for it. Even if the starters got a few reps in one of the game, they'd still have to wait a couple of weeks at least to play the first game. So once again, you might be a rusty from the dress rehearsal. All in all, it just doesn't seem worth it for the starters to get any meaningful reps. Sure, it would be in some capacity but the risk vs. reward is too great for me. And I've changed my tune on this, pretty much after the Romo injury vs. Seattle back in 2016. Yes, it opened the door for Dak but the Cowboys got lucky there. In most cases, losing the starting QB in the preseason would wreck the season. Not worth it. Just be ready to play against the Giants in Week 1, would be my advice.

Mickey: Nothing changes from the first preseason game. From the quarterback standpoint, Cooper Rush will get a series or two and Will Grier will take it the rest of the way. The Cowboys need to further evaluate Grier to determine if he's included on the 53-man roster or the practice squad. The running back and wide receiver rotations will be about the same, and the Cowboys will take a further, and needed look, at the second team offensive line since the battler for backup spots is wide open. As for the defense, not many, if any, starting spots are open, so you will see mostly backups. And special teams, including kicker Brandon Aubrey, and the Cowboys really like his talent, will continue to sharpen their skills in the game. Just keep an eye on individual players and particular positions of interest when watching the game.

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