The Dallas Cowboys will start the preseason schedule by playing a familiar preseason opponent, Oakland Raiders, who are near the Cowboys training camp. The game will be on August 13 and televised on ESPN. Our first opportunity to see the 2012 version of the Dallas Cowboys and the draft picks yet to be determined.
San Diego, St Louis, and Miami are the rest of their opponents in preseason.
Typically the 3rd preseason game is the one with the most meaning as the starters will play at least half the game while the last preseason game is a hot mess primarily consisting of guys who will not make the roster.
So the game with the Rams will be the one to tell us the most about the Cowboys and all the changes they have made. Last year in regular season the Cowboys had no problem with the Rams beating them 34-7. That’s the game that RB Demarco Murray exploded on the scene with 253 yards including a 91 yarder that is the second longest in franchise history.
Ram QB Sam Bradford did not play in that game but it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway as the Rams were just awful on defense last year. Dez Bryant was too much for the Rams to handle as he had 90 yards and a TD. However both teams have made changes.
Jeff Fisher is now the head coach and the Cowboys added a new offensive line coach and defensive back coach. Both teams are attempting to improve in 2012 through the coaching staff. But they are addressing personnel issues too.
QB Bradford could use help at WR and several mocks speculate that the Rams will select play maker WR Justin Blackmon who played at the same school as Dez, Oklahoma State. In this preseason match up will we see new Cowboy CB Brandon Carr line up on the rookie Blackmon? Or will it be Cowboys rookie (if drafted in upcoming draft) Dre Kirkpatrick getting the assignment on Blackmon? Could be an interesting match up.
In an effort to improve their porous run defense that Murray blew up in 2011, the Rams signed Saints LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar. The Cowboys have tried to secure their overly generous pass defense by adding free agents CB Brandon Carr and safety Poole. Rams DE Chris Long finished with 13 sacks last year and will provide a big early challenge for Tyron Smith adjusting to his new Left Tackle spot.
That preseason game against the Rams should give both teams an idea if their off season changes are on the right course or not. Since the Cowboys are playing the Giants in the very first NFL regular season game on a Wednesday night Sept. 5, I expect the Cowboys to sit all of their key players in the last preseason game with the Dolphins.
Yes it’s just preseason, but the Cowboys could sure use some confidence and momentum when they go play in NY at the Super Bowl Champ Giants.