I was really worried about the 2012 Dallas Cowboys coming out of the Raider game. It wasn't the defense that had me concerned. It was the offense and especially the offensive line. The entire team looked much more prepared and capable this time around. I have renewed faith that the Cowboys can be a playoff team this season.
I have to start my game review by admitting that I was dead wrong about Kevin Ogletree. I had written him off after his disappearing act that season. I was convinced that he was never going to amount to much for the Cowboys. But maybe he has been the 3rd receiver everyone has been clamoring about. If he really has turned the corner in his play like it appears then he is the perfect fit as the #3 receiver. He can play inside and outside and he has enough speed to keep the defense honest. He hasn't sewn up the #3 spot yet, but he is way ahead of the competition at this point.
And really I have to say I am pretty satisfied with the entire receiving corp all around minus the play of Andre Holmes. Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley looked like they can at least fill in decently if one of the top three receivers gets injured. Raymond Radway still doesn't seem to be the guy we saw last preseason but he is still battling to come back from his horrific leg injury. And the hustle that Radway displayed to run down the San Diego defender after McGee's interception was great to see. Andre Holmes has got to make tough catches in traffic if he wants to make the team. It is great that he is big and he can jump high, but it doesn't really matter if he isn't going to make the play.
The entire offensive line was much better this week. Doug Free was a different guy this week except for one play where he completely lost his footing and fell down. David Arkin was better even if he did commit 3 penalties. Arkin seems to have a little more power in the running game than Phil Costa. It is nice to see one of the young guys the Cowboys have drafted developing into at least a very good backup this season and maybe even a starter at left guard if Nate Livings can't get healthy enough to play. Mackenzy Bernardeau didn't stand out but that is a good thing for an offensive lineman when he goes unnoticed during a game. Overall the pass blocking by the entire offensive line was excellent.
I was thrilled to see the two interceptions that Brandon Carr came up with in the first half. I can't remember the last time I saw a cornerback for the Cowboys play the ball so aggressively. Carr isn't satisfied just to break up the pass or get a quick tackle. He is playing to make the turnover when it is there. A few plays like that last season could have put the Cowboys in the playoffs.
Morris Claiborne got his first game action this preseason. He didn't do anything spectacular but the moment didn't look too big for him either. From what I could see out of him it appeared that he did a good job covering his man. Hopefully he will get challenged a little more by the opposing quarterback in the upcoming preseason games.
Barry Church was flying to the ball again this game. He is quickly becoming one of the guys I really like to watch as the play unfolds because he seems to have a great feel for the flow of a play. It reminds me of how I can watch Sean Lee during a play and 9 out of 10 times Lee will be exactly where the ball ends up.
Felix Jones looks terrible. I don't know what is up with that guy but he needs to kick it into gear. It is not good when Jamize Olawale makes more guys miss in the open field than Felix Jones. This is a contract year for Felix so I am really surprised to see such uninspired play out of him. The Cowboys need his speed on offense so hopefully he'll find his game before the regular season starts.
Speaking of Olawale, I love this guy. I can't remember the last time the Cowboys had a big bruising running back for short yardage situations. He has a great chance to make the team and get some meaningful playing time this season if he can consistently move the pile in short yardage situations. And the fact that he can catch the ball out of the backfield just makes him that much more valuable. It will likely come down to whether Olawale can find a role on special teams in determining if he makes the final roster.
Victor Butler and Alex Albright did a very good job filling in for Anthony Spencer and Demarcus Ware. It feels like the Cowboys finally have some real depth behind their two starters.
I hope the Cowboys can continue to get their roster back to full strength. I am excited to see what the defense is capable of with all of the starters back on the field. I really hope we get to see Spencer, Ware, and Hatcher all back on the field with the starters next week against the Rams. This defense has the potential to be dominating this season.