If there was any doubt about whether the Dallas Cowboys are prepared for the regular season it appears that all questions were answered Saturday night. The offense, defense and special teams all appeared to be in regular season form against the St. Louis Rams. Yes, it was the Rams. But you can't deny the complete domination the #1's showed on both sides of the ball.
If there was any doubt about whether it is the players around Tony Romo that make him good or if Romo is so good he makes the players around him better I think the answer is clear. Playing without Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, and Miles Austin all Tony Romo did was throw for 198 yards and 2 TD's in less than one quarter of action. Romo made Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris, Cole Beasley, and John Phillips look more than capable of providing enough offense in the event that any of the three missing starters can't play in week 1 against the Giants.
The starting defense was dominant yet again. There were a few plays made by the Rams here or there but the pass rush put on Sam Bradford was relentless and the coverage on the Ram's receivers was always tight. Morris Claiborne was finally challenged a few times in this game and answered the call. It seemed that Claiborne is starting to develop some confidence and is playing a little more freely now so his talent is starting to show. Barry Church was flying around again. And Sean Lee looks like a sure-fire bet for the Pro Bowl this year.
The big concern coming out of the game is the ankle of Jay Ratliff. He has been diagnosed with the dreaded high ankle sprain. While I am concerned, I don't feel like the Cowboys can't beat the Giants without him. At this point his availability for the season opener is unlikely.
Dan Bailey has been perfect this preseason and continued his perfection against the Rams. He only missed one kick in training camp. Bailey should be a great weapon this season.
Felix Jones had me very concerned last week. But he appeared to be getting his quickness and burst of speed back against the Rams. The Cowboys need him to spell DeMarco Murray so it was a relief to see the Felix of old starting to show up again.
Kyle Orton didn't look as sharp once he came into the game but it was hard to judge if the problems were the blocking and the players around him or the play of Orton. I still feel like he is a capable backup and you won't find many backup quarterbacks around the league with as much starting experience as Orton has.
Stephen McGee sealed his fate in this game. He won't make the final cut. For some reason he just won't cut any throws down the field loose. I don't understand his hesitation since he has a decent amount of regular season experience at this point. He seems to be regressing this preseason.
David Arkin is improving with every game he plays at center. I still think Phil Costa is the superior player at center but Arkin is proving that he will be a valuable backup this season. Arkin is developing to the point that I can see him becoming a starter in the next year or two at center or guard. Costa's injury has been a blessing in disguise for Arkin's development.
It is hard to explain how helpful it was for Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Miles Austin to be out. You never want to see the top players hurt, but missing a preseason game doesn't hurt anything as long as Romo doesn't get injured as a result. Romo has learned to trust Dwayne Harris, Kevin Ogletree, and Cole Beasley. Suddenly wide receiver depth doesn't seem like such a big concern. I'm still not sold on Andre Holmes but his size will probably allow him to stick around.
I feel pretty good about the Cowboys coming out of the Rams game. I think the Cowboys have upgraded several starting positions on both sides of the ball and, more importantly, they have make huge upgrades in the depth chart on both sides of the ball. My only remaining concern, and it is still a big one, is the offensive line. Doug Free still looks uncomfortable and the starting offensive line has not played together yet.