ARLINGTON, Texas -- The program for tonight’s game features Miles Austin, Tony Romo, Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware, Terence Newman and Bradie James on the cover. You won’t find any of them on the field.
The preseason finale is all about the fringe players for the Cowboys.
Here are five bubble guys who can really help their cause in a game considered meaningless by most:
LB Leon Williams: It’ll probably come down to Williams or Steve Octavien as the ninth linebacker. If Williams plants the seed that he’s a solid candidate for the nickel package, that could tip the scales in his favor. It’d also help if he’d made a tackle or two on special teams, it’d certainly help. Octavien has proven that he can be a core special teams guy.
CB Bryan McCann: They Cowboys will probably keep 10 defensive backs. The question is whether they’ll keep a sixth safety or a fifth corner. McCann will get the chance to compete against Miami’s starting receivers for at least a series or two. If he performs well enough, the Cowboys will be nervous about trying to slip him through waivers onto the practice squad.
TE Martin Rucker: They want to keep Rucker, a fourth-round pick by Cleveland in 2008 that the Cowboys added in the middle of training camp. He just has to show them something. He could claim a roster spot by blocking relatively well and making a few catches. He’s not nearly as physical as John Phillips, but Rucker has intriguing potential in the passing game.
FB Chris Gronkowski: It could come down to Gronkowski or Rucker. Gronkowski was an H-back at Arizona, so he can be utilized in a lot of the roles that Phillips filled last season. But Gronkowski has a shot even if Rucker makes the team. Gronkowski needs to prove that he can be an effective lead blocker to give him a chance to beat out Deon Anderson.
WR Jesse Holley: The Cowboys don’t want to pay Sam Hurd’s $1.8 million salary, but they could use a receiver who can be an impact special teams player. That gives Holley ($320,000 salary) a shot. He made the practice squad with his performance in last season’s preseason finale. If he finishes the preseason with a bang again, the reality show star might make the 53-man roster.