Cowboys' big names sit for Hall of Fame Game as Brice Butler, Rico Gathers make case

CANTON, Ohio -- For the Dallas Cowboys, the most memorable part of Pro Football Hall of Fame weekend begins Friday night when owner/GM Jerry Jones receives his gold jacket and ends Saturday when he is inducted into the Hall.

The Cowboys' 20-18 win against the Arizona Cardinals in the Hall of Fame Game on Thursday will not be remembered for much besides being the first game of a preseason that the Cowboys hope will lead to Super Bowl XLII.

But there are a few things worth commenting on, both good and bad.

QB depth chart: Since starter Dak Prescott sat, Kellen Moore got the start and directed the Cowboys on two scoring drives in four tries in his first action since Dallas' 2015 season finale. Moore missed the 2016 season with an ankle injury, but he has been solid in camp. He finished with 182 yards on 12-of-17 passing, a touchdown and an interception in the first half. He showed touch underneath but was also able to hook up with receiver Brice Butler for a 46-yard gain. Moore might have gotten greedy on his interception, but he was giving receiver Noah Brown a chance to make a play in the end zone. There should be no qualms about Moore as the backup after what he showed against the Cardinals.

When it was starters vs. starters, the Cowboys looked …: Is "meh" a good enough description? Neither team played its true starters. Of the 22 projected regular-season starters for the Cowboys, only five started -- Jeff Heath, Byron Jones, Damien Wilson, La'el Collins and Jonathan Cooper. The defense gave up two touchdowns on the Cardinals' first two drives. Dallas' offense scored on two of its first three possessions. None of it was really great. None of it was too alarming.

One reason to be concerned: You never want to get carried away over the first preseason game, especially the Hall of Fame Game, considering the Cowboys have had only six padded practices, but what could be considered the first-team defense allowed too many big plays. The Cardinals had four pass plays of more than 20 yards on their first two touchdown drives.

That guy could start: Terrance Williams appears to be locked in as the No. 2 receiver, but Butler needs to be considered for the spot after his performance in the spring and thus far this summer. He had two catches for 78 yards Thursday, including the deep pass, but his second catch was even better, a diving 24-yarder to convert a third down. This is as sharp as Butler has looked since he joined the Cowboys via a trade in 2015.

Rookie watch: Defensive end Taco Charlton, Dallas' first-round pick, saw a few plays and wasn’t noticeable. Why the Cowboys did not use him more is somewhat mystifying. He needs the work and needs to build his confidence. Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, a second-rounder, nearly had an interception to close the first half but gave up a few completions.

Rico suave: Before the game, tight end Rico Gathers' biggest claim to fame in camp was getting kicked out of a practice after a fight. The former college basketball player, who did not play college football, made the right kind of news Thursday with a 26-yard touchdown grab. After limited playing time last summer in his first foray into football since junior high, Gathers started Thursday and was able to post his first touchdown, using his big body to fend off an Arizona defender. He remains a project but there are pieces to work with.

Injury report: Second-year cornerback Anthony Brown suffered a hamstring strain on the second drive and did not return. Brown started but is considered the Cowboys’ third corner behind Orlando Scandrick and Nolan Carroll. The severity of the injury is not yet known, but if Brown misses extended time, Awuzie will get a chance to win the nickelback job.

Familiar face: Learning his new craft as a TV analyst, former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo went through a mock broadcast of Thursday’s game with his new partner at CBS, Jim Nantz. Romo has had a number of practice games, but this was his first live call. His debut with CBS comes Aug. 25 when the Seattle Seahawks host the Kansas City Chiefs. Nantz is in town calling the PGA Tour’s WGC Bridgestone Invitational.