By the time the Cowboys land in Oakland on Thursday night, one of their division mates will be underway in its preseason opener.
The Eagles don't play the Patriots until Friday night, and the Giants are one of the last teams to kick off with a Saturday game. But the Redskins' preseason opener against Tennessee should be some intriguing viewing.
Robert Griffin III isn't going to play in the preseason – that much we know. He doesn't need to, anyway – Cowboys fans have seen more than enough of Griffin's skillset.
Griffin's backup, Kirk Cousins, seems to have taken the mantle once held by Matt Flynn as "NFL's Best Backup QB." Just like Flynn did when sitting behind Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, Cousins has shown flashes of great potential in limited appearances – but he is far from seasoned.
He was good enough to beat out veteran Rex Grossman as a rookie. And he showed his ability when he torched Cleveland for 339 yards and two touchdowns last year while Griffin was hurt.
It's going to be a different story for Cousins in 2013. He was the starter throughout offseason practices while Griffin rehabbed his injury, and he's still getting a large share of first-team reps during training camp. If Griffin isn't ready to go for the Week 1 opener against Philadelphia, the Redskins have to expect Cousins will be a viable starter.
That attitude is going to reflect in the preseason, starting tonight against the Titans. Cousins sits in a unique position, because he serves as both the team's temporary starter and its full-time backup. The expectation is he'll only last 10 to 15 plays Thursday night. After that, however, there's no telling how much work he might get – whether it's several series or three quarters' worth of work.
True, they are preseason games. But it looks like the NFC East is about to get a closer look at what Cousins is capable of.