The final preseason game won't include a lot of starters, if any, but the staff writers will have their eyes on a few bubble guys trying to make the team.
The Cowboys have already made the first wave of cuts to get down to 75 players and now they've got one more game before 22 more are removed from the roster.
While this game might seem meaningless to some, it could be life-altering for others, especially ones on the bubble.
The staff writers of DallasCowboys.com have each selected a player from both sides of the ball to evaluate throughout the game, followed by a review of their performances afterward.
Let's check out who the staff writers will be following closely in Thursday's game with the Broncos.
Jamar Newsome: From everything we've seen, he's good enough to crack the top five at receiver for a team in the NFL. Newsome spent last year on the practice squad, but he may find himself on a final 53-man roster after this preseason, even if it's not in Dallas. It's just difficult for any receiver outside of Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Dwayne Harris and Devin Street to make this team, unless the Cowboys decide to go deep at the position. Another strong performance and continued chemistry with Dustin Vaughan this week could give the Cowboys a tough choice.
Terrance Mitchell: The seventh-round pick is on the bubble, particularly after Tyler Patmon's breakout game last week. Given that performance, it'd be shocking if Patmon didn't earn a roster spot. That leaves Mitchell in the mix but still not guaranteed a spot. Mitchell's shown promise, particularly early in camp, as one of the most physical corners on the team. Sometimes that can go too far, leading to flags. He's got the tools to succeed if he plays with the right technique, and he should get a lot of chances Thursday to prove he belongs.
LaRon Byrd:I don't think the Cowboys are going to keep six receivers, but if they do, I have to think it'll either be LaRon Byrd or Jamar Newsome. Byrd has been solid throughout training camp, and that includes some special teams work. His fantastic over-the-shoulder grab last weekend in Miami was the Cowboys' best offensive play of the night, and he probably needs to make a couple more like that to earn consideration for the 53-man roster.
Dartwan Bush:Bush and Tyler Patmon seem like kindred spirits. Both were tryouts guys, completely overlooked during the team's rookie minicamp. Much like Patmon, Bush now has a strong chance to make the final roster – partially because of his own solid play and partially because of injuries higher up on the depth chart. His biggest play of the preseason so far came when he recovered the fumble after Zach Minter's strip-sack against Baltimore. I'll have my eye on him to see if he can make one more positive impression. He just might be the last guy written onto the final roster.
Dustin Vaughan –This one won't be too hard to evaluate. With other guys you have to make an effort to watch the line of scrimmage or a particular linebacker. But the flow of the offense in the second half and maybe more will be determined by Vaughan's play. I would say he's currently on the outside of the bubble looking in. But who knows, if he lights it up against Denver, it will force the Cowboys' hand to keep him. They would like to keep him on the practice squad but losing Alex Tanney last year will weigh on their minds. How he plays in this last game will probably be the difference of being on a 53-man roster or a 10-man practice squad.
Ryan Smith: Initially, this was supposed to be Ahmad Dixon in this spot. I think Dixon has a job locked up and now with Jakar Hamilton getting suspended, Dixon's chances of making it were solidified even more. Now the focus turns to Smith, a savvy safety who doesn't always play like a rookie. He's a smart player who has gotten better in each preseason game. But he's not just competing against other players on this team, but every safety that gets cut this weekend. Look for him to play most of the game back there.
Phillip Tanner - For a club that is struggling with injuries at running back Tanner is going to get an opportunity to carry the ball as well as cover a kick or two. His experience in these types of situations will help this team not have to just rely on rookie DJ Adams to carry the offensive load in the backfield and still be able to evaluate the other players without the mistakes that Adams might make. After his effort during his time in Dallas, I was surprised that Tanner was not resigned after the end of last season. His work as a core special teamer in my view was solid for a group that flourished under Rich Bisaccia. In talking with Tanner, he is excited to once again show this front office and coaching staff that he can contribute much like he did in previous seasons.
Kenneth Boatright: It was come down to this final game for several players on this roster and if there is one that needs to have an outstanding performance, it's Kenneth Boatright. This coaching staff has clearly put the spotlight on him when they waived Martez Wilson at the cut to 75. This staff wants to see if Boatright can handle the pressure of being a suitable backup to Jeremy Mincey when this season opens against the 49ers. Boatright has the physical talent to hold the job but there are also snaps where he is nowhere as consistent as he needs to be when it comes to playing against the run and rushing the passer. I believe that the final roster spot on this defensive line is going to go to either Boatright or Dartwan Bush who has his share of supporters as well. How they play against the Broncos will go a long way to who makes that final cut.