The Dallas Cowboys kicked off the 2013 NFL season with an exhibition against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. "America’s Team” picked up a victory in the Hall of Fame Game, winning 24-20.
On Friday, the Cowboys will play their second exhibition game of the season against the Oakland Raiders, who will be taking the field for the first time this year. The contest will be much more of a true test for Dallas, who didn’t play many of their starters against Miami. Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray didn’t suit up, while Dez Bryant and Miles Austin went without a catch.
Team’s starters don’t usually get much playing time until the second and third preseason game, but each team will have important things to look for when they face off this week. Here are five players to watch when the Cowboys take on the Raiders.
The quarterback is looking to bounce back from his one failed season with the Seattle Seahawks. He couldn’t secure the starting job after signing a $26 million contract last offseason, and reportedly didn't look sharp when he first started working out with the Raiders. However, he’s in the lead to start Week One and has played well in training camp. Now, he has to prove he can get the job done in a game against other competition.
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Dallas caught some criticism for taking the center with a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. As he plays in more games, Frederick has a chance to prove that the Cowboys made the right decision. He played well in his time at center on Sunday, but was unhappy about the way he performed at guard. There’s a chance the team will decided to start Phil Costa at center and shift the rookie to guard, so it’s important for him to improve at the position.
The rookie was involved in the biggest play of the Cowboys win over the Dolphins, as he returned a 75-yard interception for a touchdown. After being selected in the sixth round, Holloman is far from a lock to make the team’s final roster. However, if the linebacker can continue to impress and be a playmaker, he can give the Dallas coaching staff something to think about when they make their final cuts.
Joseph Randle and Phillip Tanner
In Murray’s absence, Randle and Tanner were both extremely productive at running back. Randle led the team with 70 yards on the ground, while Tanner edged him by averaging 5.9 yards per carry on 10 attempts. Heading into last season, Murray was viewed as one of the top running backs in the NFL. However, injuries and inconsistent play held him to just 663 yards in 2012, putting the Cowboys second-to-last in rushing among the 32 teams. If the rookie Randle and the 24-year-old Tanner can continue to impress, Murray may have to split more carries in the future.