What Thursday's Really About

can match the combination of their top three, Terence Newman, Anthony Henry and Aaron Glenn. But Glenn, a 35-year-old, 14th-year man, has already had his knee drained this camp. Insurance is vital. How do the Cowboys do in October if they line up with Jacques Reeves or Nate Jones at corner? Offseason signee Joey Thomas is intriguing. The club likes the potential of seventh-round draftee Alan Ball. (They like rookie Courtney Brown also, but he's played more safety in camp because of his size and what they think is his range.) The last three quarters should be about seeing these guys under fire. 

4) The kickers: It's hard to tell for sure whether Martin Gramatica and rookie Nick Folk are truly competing for a job, or whether the brain trust is trying to decide whether there's room to keep two place kickers. If Folk can kick off inside the five-yard line consistently, there's a case to be made for keeping two. What's made for a head-scratcher in camp are two factors: (1) Folk has been remarkably accurate kicking field goals, from every distance, and (2) Gramatica has kicked off close to the five with regularity. Do you want to save some money and a roster spot? Do you want to trust a game-winning field goal in New Jersey in November to a rookie, any rookie? Can Gramatica keep kicking off well? Do you want to risk losing a young kicker with a huge leg? These are questions that only begin to get answers in the games. 

5) Special teams: It's not just this camp. There is simply no way to simulate the speed of the kicking game. At that speed, how do blockers and return men maintain poise? How do cover men do beating double-teams to get to the ball carrier? Keith Davis is on this team because of what he could do covering kicks. Who is this year's Davis or Bill Bates? 

Before you say, "How many Bill Bates' do you expect to find?", remember: They never expected to find Bates or Pearson or Everson Walls or Cliff Harris or Tony Romo. That's why you watch preseason. Just don't mistake it for a real football game.             

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