The Dallas Cowboys play their final preseason game Wednesday night at 8:30 ET against the Miami Dolphins. While the starters are likely to sit out in advance of next Wednesday's regular-season opener, here's what I'll be watching ...
Most closely: Phil Costa. The Cowboys' starting center is expected to play, since he's been out with an injury and needs the snaps. As I have accurately criticized the Cowboys' offensive line for a string of utterly pitiful performances this preseason, apologists have been pointing out that Costa has not been on the field, as though that would make everything better. For me, this point of view ignores the fact that Costa was the Cowboys' worst offensive player in 2011 and is unlikely to solve the problems. But I'll take a look, just in case he's turned into Dermontti Dawson somewhere along the way and you guys are all right and I'm wrong.
On the other side of the ball: Nose tackle. With Jay Ratliff looking like he'll miss the opener with a sprained ankle, eyes are on Josh Brent and Sean Lissemore as his replacements. My guess is Brent in the base defense and Lissemore on passing downs, while the latter also sees time at defensive end. But I'm interested to see how Rob Ryan mixes and matches to try to make up for the absence of Ratliff. More interested next Wednesday night, sure, but a little bit interested tonight, too.
If I think of it: I guess it'll be interesting to see if Stephen McGee shows something in an effort to make the team as the third quarterback over no one. (No one is currently the leader in this race.) ... Backup running backs Phillip Tanner and Jamize Olawale should get some carries, and either could impress enough to warrant watching as the running back depth chart shakes out. ... It'd be a good time for Danny Coale to do something.