The NFL’s two teams from Texas will close out the 2013 preseason against each other. On Thursday night, the Dallas Cowboys will host the Houston Texans in each team’s final exhibition contest.
There may be a level of bragging rights on the line between the two fan bases, but not much will be settled on the field. Both teams will be missing key starters, including the Cowboys first-string offense and Texans quarterback Matt Schaub.
Dallas will rest their top players after having already played four times because of the Hall of Fame Game. Last week, the Cowboys starters played most of the way, and looked good doing so. Tony Romo appeared to be in midseason form, completing 13-of-18 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Miles Austin and Dez Bryant led the way with 10 combined catches for 113 yards and two scores.
The Cowboys do still have a few competitions open on offense for backup roles. Quarterback Alex Tanney is making his case to be the team’s third quarterback. The Cowboys are set with Kyle Orton behind Romo, but Tanney has played well in the preseason. He could play the entire game against the Texans.
At running back, Phillip Tanner is looking to earn a spot. DeMarco Murray is the starter and Joseph Randle will get some carries, but Tanner should get a lot of looks on Thursday. The injury to Lance Dunbar has left an opening for the undrafted free agent.
The Texans backup quarterback situation appears undecided. In 2011, Yates replaced an injured Schaub and helped Houston win their first ever playoff game. Now, his job as the No.2 signal caller may not be completely secured. Yates has performed well in the preseason, but Casey Keenum has been a welcome surprise, completing 68 percent of his passing and throwing for two touchdowns. Keenum will start and get a chance to prove he’s the right man to back up Schaub.
Houston has a few defensive issues to settle against Dallas. Linebackers Sam Montgomery, Trevardo Williams, Justin Tuggle and Willie Jefferson should all see a lot of action, as they try to secure a roster spot.
As 4.5-point favorites, the Texans are expected to go 3-1 this preseason. Dallas enters the game at 2-2.
Game coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET. In Dallas, the contest will air on KTVT 11 CBS. Viewers in other markets can watch a live stream online with a subscription to NFL Preseason Live.