SAN DIEGO - AUGUST 21: Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers reacts to Igor Olshansky #99 of the Dallas Cowboys after scoring a touchdown on a one yard rush to the end zone during their pre-season NFL football game at Qualcomm Stadium on August 21 2010 in San Diego California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Chargers Top Cowboys 20-7 In Preseason Action

The Cowboys take on the Chargers Sunday night with a handful of lineup decisions to make, in addition to determining their 53-man roster. Among those spots up for grabs are guard, defensive end, kicker and second tight end.

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While Other Cowboys Backs Remain Hampered By Injuries, Phillip Tanner Continues To Impress As Undrafted Free Agent Rookie

Every year there are undrafted free agent rookies around the NFL that come out of nowhere to make a roster and contribute.  Only rarely though do these diamonds in the rough play at quarterback, skill positions on offense, or along the offensive line. Though I don't have the data to back this up, it sure seems like an awfully high percentage of UDFAs that do manage to stick are running backs. Perhaps it's because there's so little difference between the size and speed of the highly regarded backs and those that go undrafted. Or maybe it's because the RB position requires less mental mastery of complex NFL schemes before being entrusted with rushing attempts.

For Phillip Tanner, an UDFA out of Middle Tennessee State, the stars seem to be aligning. Injuries to Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murray have opened up the door for Tanner, and the 6-0, 214 pound back has made the most of his opportunities to impress Jason Garrett and the Cowboys coaching staff. In Sunday's loss to the San Diego Chargers, Tanner had four carries for 31 yards including  . He gained 44 yards on nine attempts in Dallas' preseason opener against the Denver Broncos. Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas, included Tanner in this week's Cowboys' 'Stock Report' saying this about Tanner's chances to make this year's squad:

STOCK UP

Phillip Tanner: He's making a strong case to make the 53-man roster, or at least the practice squad, with another strong performance. He rushed for 31 yards on just four carries and had a touchdown taken away because he lost his helmet while breaking a tackle. One thing Tanner does well is move laterally to another spot along the line of scrimmage when there's no hole available.

Felix Jones has also looked sharp this preseason, so expect the former first round pick out of Arkansas to retain his status as the team's starting RB. But unless Choice and Murray get back on the field quickly and prove they're healthy enough to be an effective part of the backfield rotation, Tanner could very well find himself as the latest UDFA running back to emerge from nowhere to contribute in the National Football League. 

Though it could be taken down at any moment, here's the video of Tanner's previously mentioned helmet-less TD that was called back. 

For more Cowboys coverage and discussion, be sure to check in at Blogging The Boys. 

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Cowboys Vs. Chargers: Dallas Injuries, Lineups

David Buehler and Jason Hatcher will sit out Sunday night’s game with the Chargers, adding to the Cowboys’ injury list for their second preseason game. Also out for Dallas are Miles Austin, Kai Forbath, Teddy Williams, Mike Jenkins, Tashard Choice, DeMarco Murray, Montrae Holland, Terence Newman, Keith Brooking and Bruce Carter.

Dan Bailey will be handing all of the kicking duties. Kenyon Coleman will start at left end, with Marcus Spears at right end. Igor Olshansky is expected to play with the second team. Otherwise notable, rookie seventh-rounder Bill Nagy will start at left guard. David Arkin started there last week.

Kevin Ogletree will start at receiver for Austin, while Phillip Tanner and Lonyae Miller will get carries with Choice and Murray both still out.

According to Christopher Smith of Chargers.com, the following will sit out for San Diego:

Out: Cason, Sullivan, Summers, Teal, Morris, Otterson, McNeill, Cesaire, Sperry, Gates, Brown, Washington, Phillips, Barnes, LaBoy.

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Dallas Cowboys Vs. San Diego Chargers: Jason Garrett & Norv Turner Match Wits

The Cowboys take on the Chargers Sunday night with a handful of lineup decisions to make, in addition to determining their 53-man roster. Among those spots up for grabs are guard, defensive end, kicker and second tight end.

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