With the Cowboys set to play their first preseason game tonight, it's more about the second and third-string players making an impact than the starters. So here is a guide to which players to look out for in the first action of the 2011 season.
By all accounts rookie Tyron Smith is a starter, so he might see limited action because the Cowboys don't want him to get hurt. Or he might see a lot of action because the Cowboys want to see what he can do during a a significant stretch of a game. Whatever action he does, eyes will be on him and he should have no problem showing the fans that he can protect.
Although he'll most likely be starting tomorrow, rookie lineman David Arkin still has a long way to go before he can be a starter in the NFL, but that doesn't mean he hasn't impressed the Cowboy coaches with his play so far.
Coming out of Missouri State, many people considered him a project, but so far he has shown a lot of ability. If he can show some skills while playing with the starters, it may make the coaching staff think twice about letting Montrae Holland start.
With Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murray sidelined with injuries, Lonyae Miller has played so well in camp that there have been some articles debating on whether the Cowboys should keep Choice and have Miller split time with Felix Jones. Miller scored a TD in the Cowboys team scrimmage last week and if he keeps at this level, the Cowboys will have to talk about keeping him around because it's highly unlikely that he'll make it through waivers after the final cuts.
Rookie receiver Raymond Radyway is another small school product that's been lighting up the field during training camp. According to reports from Dallascowboys.com, Radway, from Abilene Christian, was the best undrafted rookie in camp.
While he hasn't been perfect in camp, he's got good size at 6'3", solid hands and track speed. He'll get plenty of opportunities during tonight's game to show he should be above the likes of Manuel Johnson, Titus Ryan and Jesse Holley on the depth chart.
Linebackers Alex Albright and Orie Lemon have been solid in practice and even got the praise of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. While both will most likely see special teams during the season, they'll get a chance to show their primary skills at linebacker in tonight's game.
The kicking battle between David Buehler and Dan Bailey will officially start during this game. While Bailey has been the best of the two in camp (although neither one has been very consistent), Buehler has the on-field experience when it comes to NFL action.
Buehler will have to show he's improved from the inconsistent kicker he was last season, because while he's a workout freak for a kicker, the Cowboys are merely interested in field goals.
A couple other guys to look at are receiver Kevin Ogletree and lineman Phil Costa. While these two have been with the Cowboys for awhile, this is their first chance to really show the coaching staff and owner Jerry Jones,they deserve an increased role in the Dallas offense.
Ogletree has been given the third-string receiver spot, so all he has to do is solidify his spot by simply getting open and making a few catches. Costa will have to do a little more, because he's filling in for Andre Gurode at center and barring a Superman-type effort, Gurode will be the starter come September 11th. Still, a good showing during the preseason could give the Cowboys confidence in Costa should anyone gets hurt.
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