Saturday night marks the last time fans see the Dallas Cowboys starters in action until opening day, as they take on the Cincinnati Bengals at AT&T Stadium in the third week of preseason action.
Entering their fourth of five total preseason games, Dallas rolled off two straight losses to Oakland and last week’s 12-7 let down against Arizona. Much of the early troubles are due to a first string offense that hasn’t reached the end zone in five straight possessions.
Quarterback Tony Romo has gone a solid 13-for-18 for 230 yards, but no touchdowns in his time on the field. While reception leader of a year ago Jason Witten hasn’t caught a pass yet. Not putting to much pressure on DeMarco Murray, the Cowboys split carries with three other backs against Arizona, and could only manage 44 yards. Rookie Joseph Randle led the team with 16 yards on eight carries.
Receiver Dez Bryant has tallied seven catches and 129 yards in his short time on the field, and roster hopeful wide out Tim Benford is second on Dallas with six receptions for 66 yards. Only Gavin Escobar and Cole Beasley have caught touchdowns this preseason.
Dallas will also have to protect the football better, with three lost fumbles last week.
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The Cowboys host a Bengals team hoping to get more reps for injured star receiver A.J. Green, and in need of a sack for the first team defense, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The same report says Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has a specific number of snaps in mind for each player, per position, but Green should get some time with the first team. The frontline has been missing Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap, but both returned earlier this week. It’s unclear if they will play this early after coming back.
Cincinnati’s offense has been humming in the preseason, so they might not have to press Green too much. First trouncing Atlanta 34-10, then inching past Tennessee 27-19 last week. Against the Titans, quarterback Andy Dalton went 9-for-14 for 115 yards and a touchdown, while fourth-string running back Dan Herron totaled 81 yards and a touchdown. Rookie Giovani Bernard also reached pay dirt, with seven touches for 37 yards.
The pressure on the quarterback might be part of a larger problem for Cincinnati. They surrendered 412 total offensive yards, including nearly five per rush. The Enquirer also reported second year safety George Iloka won’t play on Saturday, which leaves Shawn Williams and Taylor Mays with more opportunities to mend the Bengals defense. Williams leads the team with 11 tackles, while Mays has six.
The game kicks-off at 8 p.m. ET and a live online stream is available by subscription on the NFL’s official site here.
CBS 11 KTVT will broadcast from Dallas, and WKRC-TV in Cincinnati.
Betting Odds: Dallas is favored by 3 points.
Over/Under: 43.5 points
Prediction: Cincinnati 31, Dallas 21