Five things to watch in tonight's Cowboys-Chargers game

Posted Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011  comments  Print Reprints
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ARLINGTON -- Cornerback Orlando Scandrick is making the most of his time in the Dallas Cowboys' starting lineup in place of the injured Terence Newman, who is out until at least the season opener with a strained groin.

According to defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, Scandrick is having as good a camp as any defender, raising the possibility of his keeping the job even after Newman is healthy.

Ryan wouldn't go that far, saying he feels the Cowboys have three starters in Scandrick, Newman and Mike Jenkins.

"Scandrick's been doing great all camp," Ryan said. "He's had one of the better camps [of] anybody, I think. He's a confident guy. He's doing well.... In my opinion, we have three starting corners and that's the way it's going to be."

Scandrick more than held his own against the San Diego Chargers in practice last week and will get another chance to prove himself in tonight's preseason matchup against the Chargers at Cowboys Stadium.

Here are five storylines to watch tonight:

1Scandrick's starting bid

Orlando Scandrick has been the Cowboys' nickel corner the past three seasons, but he's in the last year of his contract and understands his future income will increase if he is considered a starting-caliber cornerback. Scandrick certainly sees this as another opportunity to prove he can be a starter on the outside next season, if not this year. Terence Newman will most likely not be brought back in 2012 because of age, injury history and his high salary.

2A longer look at Romo & Co.

Quarterback Tony Romo and the regulars will play at least a quarter, if not more. It will be Romo's longest stint since suffering a fractured clavicle last October, forcing him to miss the final 10 games of 2010. "I can't guarantee you a play number or a time in the game when they're coming out, but we anticipate them playing longer," coach Jason Garrett said. "Hopefully into the second quarter, maybe double the snaps."

3Offensive line

Seventh-round pick Bill Nagy will get his turn at left guard in place of the injured Montrae Holland. (Fourth-round pick David Arkin got the start in the preseason opener.) The interesting thing is that Nagy was largely a reserve in college at Wisconsin, but now he is in a battle for a starting job with the Cowboys. The Chargers game will also serve as another test for rookie top pick Tyron Smith at right tackle.

4Dan Bailey gets his shot

Incumbent kicker David Buehler is out tonight with a hip strain, giving rookie Dan Bailey a chance to get a leg up in the kicking competition. Bailey, who will handle all kicking duties tonight, has more than held his own against Buehler in training camp, and tonight he can put some real heat on Buehler.

5The Rob Ryan defense

The Cowboys' defense under the new coordinator didn't get off to a good start in the preseason opener against the Broncos, who marched 74 yards on the opening drive against Dallas' starters. The Cowboys will be helped by the return of nose tackle Jay Ratliff, who missed the preseason opener with a bad back. Ryan said he expects communication to improve dramatically, leading to better results against the Chargers and their potent passing attack.

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