When a rookie is trying to learn an NFL defense and may be needed to start, isn't there something to be said for putting him in the position he was drafted to play and letting him learn it rather than have him shuffled between two different spots?
Rowan: This is obviously about Anthony Hitchens, and I agree with your point. It's tricky because they're still really trying to find the three best linebackers and the best spots for them, and the time to do that is in training camp and in these games. The end results of these preseason games matter a whole lot less than the evaluation of specific players during those games. They want to see where he's most comfortable. That said, if he's really a potential starter, with two weeks before the start of the season now they need to know where they want him – and I think it's in the middle.
David: If you think back to draft weekend, you'll remember that the gameplan for Hitchens was to let him sit and learn as an understudy behind Sean Lee. That gameplan went out the window about three weeks later when Lee tore his ACL. You're probably right that shuffling a rookie around the lineup like that is somewhat counterproductive. But simply put, the Cowboys don't have a lot of reasons to feel confident about their linebackers, and they need to try whatever they think might work.
I thought Tyler Patmon was the MVP of the Miami game. Great find or fluke?
Rowan: Not a fluke. I'd be really surprised after that performance if he was left off the 53-man roster. That means they're going to have to make some decisions they may not want to make between players like B.W. Webb and Terrance Mitchell. Patmon was a player that had Monte Kiffin thinking of Ronde Barber when Patmon first made the team. There's a reason he went from tryout guy to preseason star, and I don't think it's a fluke.
David: The big reason why I don't think it was a fluke is that Patmon made two of his three big plays against Miami's starters. Not that the Dolphins offense is some awe-inspiring juggernaut, but there's still a difference between excelling against starters as opposed to third-teamers and eventual cuts. Now, I'm not sure I'd use him as one of the top three corners – even when Scandrick serves his suspension – but I do think he has made the roster.