IRVING, Texas – Tape study continues as we grind toward Week 1, and the return of my weekly matchup series is next.
Every Thursday, I'll highlight two matchups that I think will go a long way toward deciding the week's outcome. One will feature the Dallas defense against the opposing offense, and the other will feature the opposite.
We're not wasting any time with good matchups this season, as this week's piece feature two high-profile rookies and a future Hall of Famer.
Let's take a look:
Cowboys DE Randy Gregory vs. Giants OT Ereck Flowers
This will be a rematch of two rookies that met last season in Lincoln, Neb., during the college football season. In that game Gregory had one of his better days as his Cornhuskers handled the Hurricanes.
Gregory will line up at right defensive end in nickel situations, while Flowers starts at left tackle. Gregory has spent his initial time on this roster having to deal with Tyron Smith each day – so that will prepare him for the power and strength that Flowers can bring. Where Flowers is different from Smith is that he is not the same caliber of foot athlete, and that will give Gregory an advantage on his rush.
As training camp wore on, Gregory improved each day in how he not only attacked Smith's power, but his athletic ability as well. Where Gregory has to be careful in dealing with Flowers is that if Flowers does get his hands on him. Flowers is a mauler and can easily control his man if put in that situation. For Gregory to have success, he is going to need to give Flowers as little hitting surface as possible.
He has too much speed and improved pass rush moves for the massive Flowers – he needs to stay out of the middle of Flowers and attack him inside and out.
Cowboys TE Jason Witten vs. Giants OLB Devon Kennard
I believe that Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is going to want to establish the run early in this game. In order for him to be able to do this, he is going to saddle up and attack this Giants front seven.
There is no question that Linehan is going to lean on this offensive line to make that happen, but he is also going to put Jason Witten at the point of attack and work to capture that edge. In this game, Witten will be matched up against Devon Kennard, who is in his second season with the Giants playing as the Sam linebacker.
During his college career at USC, Kennard was a defensive end and at 6-3, 249 pounds, and he is a load to deal with on the outside. His playing speed is very good, and he has the range to make those plays when he has to chase the ball. Kennard does a nice job of getting his hands inside to control the blockers and can be difficult to move off the line one-on-one.
For Witten to have success blocking him in the running game, he is going to need to match Kennard's strength -- but more importantly, make sure he finishes his blocks.