The Dallas Cowboys will play their third of five preseason games this weekend on Saturday when they visit the San Diego Chargers. The Cowboys starting offense will look to be much more efficient than they have in their previous preseason games against the Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders. Starting quarterback Tony Romo and company have yet to put the ball in the endzone in limited action thus far in the preaseason.
The injuries the Cowboys offensive unit have suffered, specifically to linemen Marc Columbo - who will miss the remainder of the preseason - and Kyle Kosier, the Cowboys may struggle on the offensive side of the ball again on Saturday. Dallas will have options on rearranging the offensive line and Todd Archer offers some insight on how the Cowboys might go about fixing the line:
Back in Oxnard, the Cowboys will go about replacing their right tackle in today's practice with some options.
Move Doug Free to right tackle from the left side.
Move Alex Barron to the right side once his sprained right ankle is healthy
Move last year's third rounder Robert Brewster to the right side
Go with this year's sixth rounder Sam Young.
Move Leonard Davis to right tackle and inset Montrae Holland at right guard
Young was the replacement on Sunday after Colombo went out. Brewster has been taking the second-team snaps at left tackle in Barron's absence, so maybe they just went with the natural order of things.
Young started 50 straight games at Notre Dame, playing mostly left tackle. He is stronger, it seems, than most rookie linemen. Remember in 2005, the Cowboys went with a sixth rounder as their starting right tackle in Rob Petitti . He was OK before Flozell Adams was lost with a knee injury after six games because the Cowboys could no longer send extra help his way.
Consequently, the Cowboys might look to be a bit more creative on offense. Tashard Choice has been taking direct snaps in practices with the return of the Razorback offense - and the addition of a few plays to it in the playbook.
Defensively, there are a number of young players on the Cowboys that merit watching. Defensive end Stephen Bowen is being looked at as a rising star - and possibly the "Tony Romo or Miles Austin" of the defense. Undrafted free agent corner back Bryan McCann - no, not the Braves catcher Brian McCann - out of Southern Methodist University has been impressing personnel during recent practices. Supplemental rookie defensive tackle Josh Brent has been making his presence known this summer so far as well.
Fourth round safety Akwasi Owusu-Ansah will make his Dallas Cowboys debut in San Diego on special teams, returning kickoffs and punts. Seldom are kickers worth watching, but the progression of kicker David Buehler warrants it for Dallas fans since the Cowboys lacked stability at the position last year.
The Chargers will have a different look to them than they have had in recent seasons. Franchise icon LaDanian Tomlinson has moved on from the Chargers and signed with the Jets and has been replaced by rookie Ryan Matthews, who general manager A.J. Smith raves about. Phillip Rivers will be the familiar face on offense for the Chargers since star wide out Vincent Jackson - who also must serve a three game suspension this year - and offensive lineman Marcus McNeill have still yet to report to Chargers camp.
Shawne Merriman recently ended his holdout and reported to camp. Once a dominant force, Merriman hasn't been the same in recent years but both he and the Chargers are confident he can return to Pro Bowl form. San Diego is also without former Pro Bowl cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who had struggled in recent years, after dealing him to the New York Jets over the offseason.
Kickoff: Saturday, August 21, 8:00 PM CDT
Television Coverage: KTVT 11/ CBS (locally)