The Dallas Cowboys return to game action on Saturday night, but don’t hold your breath for the stars to play.
The Ezekiel Elliott drama is behind them for now. Elliott was suspended for six games by the NFL on Friday for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Although suspended, Elliott is eligible to play in preseason games but is not expected to play along with Dak Prescott, Tyron Smith and Jaylon Smith.
Here are five storylines to watch:
Word is that Dak Prescott isn’t expected to play tonight. This is the game Prescott really emerged a year ago, completing 10 of 12 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns. But Prescott is expected to watch from the sidelines. That will leave Kellen Moore leading the team tonight. Moore has had a solid training camp so far, and he needs to build on it to put more confidence in the coaching staff.
First-round pick Taco Charlton hasn’t flashed early in training camp. He didn’t do much in his first pro game last week, and has already heard the critics. But it’s too early to rush to judgment on Charlton, a late bloomer at Michigan. The Cowboys need to bolster their pass rush and would like to see Charlton show something in a game setting. He’ll have his opportunities Saturday.
Ezekiel Elliott is not expected to play tonight, but there will be plenty of focus on the running back position with Elliott facing a six-game suspension. Darren McFadden is expected to get the majority of the snaps in place of Elliott, and should see his fare share of action tonight. Rod Smith has impressed in camp and will also continue to get carries along with Alfred Morris.
Sitting and healing
The Cowboys have a handful of players who won’t play. Linebacker Jaylon Smith is not expected to play, and neither is Sean Lee (hamstring). Smith is itching to get back on the field, but the Cowboys are being deliberate in bringing him back. Other notable players who might not see the field are left tackle Tryon Smith (back) and rookie cornerbacks Jourdan Lewis (hamstring) and Chidobe Awuzie (ankle).
The offensive line remains the strongest unit on the team, and this will be the first time Travis Frederick, Zack Martin and La’el Collins take the field together this season. Left tackle Tyron Smith (back) isn’t expected to play. But the position to watch is left guard where Byron Bell and Jonathan Cooper are the two leading candidates for the starting job. Chaz Green, who has been slowed by injuries, remains a candidate.