The wait is over, Dallas Cowboys football is finally back. I know what your thinking it’s just preseason and the games don’t count. While it’s true the games don’t count and the starters likely won’t see extended playing time, the games are still telling if you know what to watch for. With that in mind here are five things Cowboys fans should be paying attention to when Dallas takes the field against the San Francisco 49ers.

1. The Backup Quarterbacks

Dak Prescott will see limited playing time if he sees any at all in the first preseason game. That means Cooper Rush and Mike White should each get plenty of snaps to show what they have. Dallas could keep three QB’s when the season starts, but that means carrying less players at another position. If Dallas opts to only carry two QB’s into the season, that means the battle for the backup position should be an intense one that should last all preseason. Either Mike White or Cooper Rush should leave San Francisco with the early advantage.

2. The Running Backs Not Named Zeke

Every Cowboys fan knows a successful season largely hinges on Ezekiel Elliott staying healthy and having a huge year. The Dallas coaches know that too. That is why you will likely see very little of Zeke this preseason. That means opportunities abound for the other RB’s on the roster. The only RB other than Zeke who’s roster spot is secure is Rod Smith. Smith played well last season In Zeke’s absence and earned the right to head into this season as the backup. There are two other Running Backs who I believe could turn some heads in the preseason. The first one is Darius Jackson. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because it’s not his first time to wear the star on his helmet. Jackson was drafted by Dallas in the sixth round of the 2016 draft. He was waived by Dallas in December of that year and claimed by the Cleveland Browns. He never played for Cleveland and found his way back to Dallas this offseason. Now he has a second chance to impress the team that drafted him. The other RB to keep an eye on is seventh round draft choice, Bo Scarborough. Scarborough is a bruiser of a RB, that will look to run defenders over. Jackson and Scarborough are both talented but Dallas may opt to only keep one on the 53 man roster, so it’s up to both players to use every opportunity they get to convince the coaches that they deserve a spot.

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3. Who Steps Up At Tight End

It will be strange to see the Dallas Cowboys take the field without Jason Witten. He’s been the constant for Dallas since 2003. Other players came and went but Witten remained. Now Dallas must find someone to fill the huge void. While none of the TE’s on the roster will ever be Witten, one of them will be the Cowboys starter on September 9th in Carolina. There are four options and all will get a lot of playing time in the preseason. Geoff Swaim will get the first shot and is probably the favorite to win the starting job. He’s got the most experience and is a solid blocker and pass catcher. The other candidates are Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz, and the ultimate wild card in Rico Gathers. All will get their opportunities and Cowboys fans have to hope that at least one can emerge and be ready to go when the games actually count.

4. Xavier Woods

The rumors surrounding the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas will not die. Earl still hasn’t reported to camp and is still asking the team to pay him or trade him. While many Cowboys fans are dreaming about Earl landing in Dallas, there is one person who doesn’t seemed to be bothered by all the rumors and that’s current starting Safety Xavier Woods. Woods has heard the rumors but says “I just control what I can control”. Woods also added “ I have the job now and I have no plan on giving it back”. If Xavier Woods plays well he can possibly silence some of the Earl Thomas trade noise. On the flip side, if he plays poorly the Earl Thomas noise is just going to get louder.

5. Michael Gallup

This spot on the list should probably be about all the wide receivers. However if you’ve read my previous articles you know which wide receiver I’m most excited to see and that’s Michael Gallup. I don’t care that he’s a rookie. I don’t care that he was a third round pick. He is going to be great and he’s going to be great as a rookie. I’m the guy that will reach for him in my fantasy football drafts just to make sure I get him. I’ve already got my seat on the Michael Gallup bandwagon. Once fans see him on the field they will know why I’m such a believer and that begins with preseason game number one in San Francisco.

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