Observation deck: Cowboys-Texans

ARLINGTON, Texas – For the first time since 2001, the Dallas Cowboys finished the preseason with a losing record following their 24-6 defeat to the Houston Texans.

The Cowboys finished 2-3 in the preseason, just as they did in 2001 -- but must hope they will not have a 5-11 season as they did then under Dave Campo.

If they do, things will have gone horribly wrong, and owner/general manager Jerry Jones will clean house … except for himself.

What it means: Nothing, really.

The Cowboys gave all of their healthy regulars the night off. Technically, Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Bruce Carter, Sean Lee, Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Orlando Scandrick, Justin Durant, Will Allen, Barry Church, Tyron Smith, Jason Hatcher, Nick Hayden, George Selvie, Doug Free and Travis Frederick did some conditioning work ahead the game, before turning into spectators.

Houston gashed the Cowboys on the ground with 120 yards rushing in the first quarter, punishing the right side of the defense with backs Cierre Wood and Dennis Johnson.

Parnell gets a look: One potential starter on opening night against the Giants started: right tackle Jermey Parnell. He played a few series, and it was no coincidence that the Cowboys called six consecutive running plays to open the game.

Four of them went to Parnell’s side of the field.

A hamstring injury kept him out of the first three preseason games; Parnell played into the third quarter last week versus Cincinnati. The coaches wanted to get him more work in case he does have to start Sept. 8 against the Giants.

Injury update: Morris Claiborne will enter the regular season without any work in a preseason game. He practiced Monday and Tuesday, but Dallas coaches did not believe it was necessary for the second-year cornerback to get just a few plays against the Texans.

He made it through practice without a problem and was fine during pregame running.

Guard Ronald Leary also took part in the conditioning work before the game. He had his knee scoped Aug. 16 and the Cowboys believe he will be ready to take on the Giants. Getting in some running was at least a positive sign for him; meanwhile, defensive end Anthony Spencer, who had a knee scope July 25, was not among the group running before the game.

What’s next? The Cowboys will have to get to the 53-man roster limit by Saturday. Most of the decisions are probably pretty easy, but injuries will factor into a few. Also, look for Dallas to troll the waiver wire for some help along the offensive and defensive lines, at cornerback and perhaps linebacker, too. The full-time preparation for the New York Giants starts Monday when the Cowboys get back to practice.