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NFL Preseason: Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins Pregame

Bill Parcells, Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano bring the Miami Dolphins to the Death Star Thursday for the least meaningful game of the season. While the Cowboys will likely be outplayed for a third straight week, the hope has to be that their young players won't once again be out-efforted.

Opponent: Miami Dolphins (Dolphins Team Page)
Game time: Saturday, 7:00 CDT
Location: Cowboys Stadium - Arlington, TX
TV: CBS 11 

STORYLINES:

After a preseason riddled with injuries, the Cowboys have decided to sit their key players and most starters. The Dolphins will play their starters, so don't expect Dallas to end their preseason on a high note, at least in the first half.

Dez Bryant is among those who will not play. Jerry Jones said Wednesday that he needs more conditioning. I have to applaud the Cowboys' restraint with Bryant. We're all dying to see him play, but there really isn't much to be gained. There are a few stories circulating today about Ireland hoping to catch up with Bryant to clear the air regarding their pre-draft interview.

Stephen McGee is apparently going to start and play the entire game. There is suddenly a lot of talk about the possibility that McGee doesn't make the team. I haven't seen a viable NFL QB in McGee, and I said that earlier in the preseason while the media took their cue from Jason Garrett and lauded his early performances. Not to be contrarian, but I actually liked his pacing in his short stint Saturday as well as anything I've seen from him. At any rate, if his job is really on the line, his performance will certainly be more interesting to track.

Will this be Patrick Crayton's last game as a Cowboy? Crayton and Sam Hurd are currently the Cowboys' fourth and sixth receivers, but while both also offer something significant to special teams units - Hurd still might be the team's best coverage guy and Crayton offers stability on punt returns, particularly if Bryant is spared the job - the rub is that their salaries combine for around four million dollars. Jerry Jones seems to have picked a frustrating year to be frugal, but with a likely lockout looming he's going to do what he's going to do. There are rumors swirling around Crayton this week that the team could let him go for a mid-late draft pick, so his usage will be worth paying attention to.

I'm with Tim McMahon on being a little baffled by the lack of emphasis this preseason on giving David Buehler chances. I understand that the decision to give him the field goal kicker job was probably made by Jones before camp even began, but this is a woefully inexperienced player. He would have benefited from game reps more than any other player on the team. We'll see what kinds of looks he gets tonight.

Game previews:

I took a look Monday at the remaining roster decisions. For me, the most interesting battle appears to be the three-way competition for two spots in the defensive secondary. Safeties Barry Church and Danny McCray and corner Bryan McCann should play a ton.

Brandon Worley has an in-depth look at offensive and defensive roster bubble positional battles for Blogging The Boys.

Bryan Broaddus has his preview, including some interesting thoughts on Sean Lee.

Jonathan Bales gives his 12 things to watch.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.