The preseason finale is typically a snoozer for fans with mostly backups playing throughout the game.
But, for the players in it, there might not be a more important game tonight. Jobs are on the line, after all, and everyone wants a coveted spot on an NFL roster.
The Dallas Cowboys have plenty of battles still going on, and will be facing several difficult decisions afterward to trim their roster to 53 by 3 p.m. Saturday.
“There are spots open,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “And they are competing not only against what’s here on this team, but they’re competing against all of the other players in the NFL right now.
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“It’s going to be a big game for a lot of players that are looking for those last four or five roster spots that are on the line. I know they are aware of that. And I know the coaches make them aware of it. But nothing is given to you so it’s going to be a big deal tomorrow.”
The Cowboys won last year’s Governor’s Cup with a 20-17 overtime victory against the Texans in the regular season. The Texans have won the past two Governor’s Cups decided in the preseason.
1Rest day Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are among the starters who aren’t expected to play. Romo flashed enough in two preseason outings to show he is ready. The Cowboys aren’t willing to risk an injury to Bryant even though he hasn’t gotten game reps yet. But the game will feature plenty of players who will contribute this season.
2Numbers game Will the Cowboys carry four tight ends? A fullback? What position do they go short? Rookie Geoff Swaim, a University of Texas product, has made a strong case for the team to carry four tight ends, and another strong showing could cement his spot. Coach Jason Garrett is a proponent of the fullback position. Tyler Clutts could lock up a role once again.
3QB decisions Backup Brandon Weeden declared himself ready to play in this game after missing the third preseason game with concussion symptoms. He should get some snaps, but the more important snaps will go to Dustin Vaughan. The Cowboys kept three quarterbacks for the first time in recent years last season when Vaughan showed promise. However, this year has been more of a mixed bag for Vaughan. A good showing, though, could save his spot.
4Bubble decisions Outside of Vaughan, there are plenty of other players who find themselves on the bubble. Wide receiver Lucky Whitehead has been the presumed favorite to win the fifth receiver/returner job, drawing praise from owner Jerry Jones. But Whitehead must show he can take care of the ball. At linebacker, Keith Smith is making a case for a spot over Jasper Brinkley. There should be a tough call for the final defensive line spot between Davon Coleman and Ken Bishop.
5State bragging rights? The Governor’s Cup is the on the line, awarded annually to the winner of this game. The Cowboys have possession of the title, which meant more last year when they won a regular-season game in overtime. The Texans have won the past two Governor’s Cups decided in the preseason. The winner doesn’t really matter in determining how the season goes, but this is the only option for state bragging rights.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760