Some thoughts before the Cowboys take on the Houston Texans in the final preseason game:
- Jermey Parnell was able to get two more solid practice days in this week at right tackle but after missing the majority of the preseason, it would be nice to see him get another two quarters of work in like he did last week against the Bengals. If Parnell is going to be the starter at tackle in the opening game against the Giants, I want him to feel totally confident in his ability to not only pass set, but making these blocks in the running game. Last week, he played with some hesitation which caused him to play off balance and not finish the blocks like he needed to. There is no question that he needs more game action to gain confidence in his technique and get his conditioning where it needs to be for the season. If this move of Doug Free to guard is going to be successful, then Parnell is going to have to play his part as well.
- Alex Tanney gets the start against the Texans on Thursday night and should play the entire game. Tanney has shown the moxie and the skill to handle the job but it will be interesting to see if he can continue to make the plays that keep drives going. I have been impressed with his mobility and pocket awareness but there have been times in broadcasting the games, where he appeared to hold the ball a little too long. He needs to make the decisions quicker with his reads. There have been times as well where he hasn't been as accurate as he has needed to be. The great quarterbacks in this league know how to throw receivers open by leading them with the ball. Tanney's arm strength and his courage to make the tough throw is there but it's difficult for a defense to defend an accurate passer and this is where Tanney needs to show improvement. Against the Texans, he will get to show this front office and coaching staff that he is capable of that.
- Get ready for the Joseph Randle and Kendial Lawrence show against the Texans which most likely, would not be a bad one-two punch. Randle has made some nice strides this Summer, where Lawrence has been waiting for his opportunity. What I have noticed about Randle's game seeing him live is how much power you see him play with. When he gets the ball, he is heading down hill and he is going to run until he feels contact, then he explodes on the tackler. I have also been impressed with his vision. There have been times where he has made a cut or two that has allowed him into the second level to finish runs. He has improved as a pass protector and that was an area that I was not really too sure about. Kendial Lawrence has practiced well but he plays a position where there are some strong numbers. Lawrence has shown quickness and a burst with the ball in his hands and against the Texans, I have a strong feeling that you will see him display those talents.
- Keep an eye on this Cowboys defense and who is making plays and who is not. This is where I believe that the most roster spots could change hands. All three positions, defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs have some final battles. Is Landon Cohen good enough to back up the one and three? George Selvie is the starter at left defensive end but when Anthony Spencer returns does he fit better on left or right side? With Brandon Magee out, does Caleb McSurdy have a chance to sneak in there? What about Cameron Lawrence or Taylor Reed? Could that fifth corner spot be up for grabs? Micah Pellerin and Sterling Moore, both have their eye on that spot. It appears that Jeff Heath has a spot on this roster but can he make it to the active 46 each week with his special teams play? This final preseason game for many will be the difference of whether they will continue to work at Valley Ranch or will be looking for jobs around the league.