Scout's Eye: Hall of Fame Game preview

August, 8, 2010
8/08/10
7:53
AM ET
Five things to watch in the Hall of Fame Game:

*The first offense and defense will get a couple of series at the most. The most important areas to watch here is timing and execution of the plays or defense called.

The last thing you want is to come out and look sloppy with your frontline players. On offense, fumbled snaps, dropped passes, missed blocks or poor assignments lead to unproductive plays and waste the limited time the squad is on the field. Ideally, you want Tony Romo to enjoy a clean pocket to make his throws. Unnecessary hits and having to avoid potential sacks are never good signs. You want your offense to have a rhythm. You want to see the line blocking, the receivers running good routes, and the backs having vision to hit the holes. Jason Garrett and the offensive coaches want it all to come together in that short time.

On defense, you don’t want blown assignments, The goal should be to line up correctly and play sound technique. Getting off blocks, defending passes and most importantly, not allowing big plays will be the key.

The young players on the second and third teams will make mistakes but you really want to build continuity and confidence with your ones.

*Offensive tackle Doug Free has enjoyed a productive two weeks of camp.

On a daily basis, he has worked against two of the better rushers in the NFL in DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. Free has improved each day and Wade Phillips has called him the most consistent offensive linemen in the camp to this point. Free’s footwork and technique has been solid and he appears more comfortable working now on the left side.

Free will have the opportunity to work against two veteran defensive ends in Antwan Odom and Frostee Rucker for the Bengals. Odom is a nice pass rusher but has been banged up a little in camp and has missed some time so he might actually see more of Rucker.

*The pre season will be No. 3 quarterback Stephen McGee’s time to shine.

The club knows what they have in backup Jon Kitna, so the bigger question is whether McGee be that “quarterback of the future.” Wade Phillips said that he is trying to develop McGee in that manner.

There are some traits to like in McGee. He does have a strong arm, he is mobile and is intelligent.

If McGee does struggle, it’s that he needs to do things quicker. The quarterback clock in his head needs to move faster.

During practice, you can see Jason Garrett and Wade Wilson working with him. Stephen McGee will get the opportunity to prove he belongs and trust me, the front office and the coaches will be watching him every step of the way this summer.

*Nose tackles Josh Brent and Junior Siavii are now in a battle for that backup position behind Jay Ratliff.

Brent has been impressive in the three practices that he has had. Siavii has been steady but is limited as a player. Brent has quickness, power and is a better pass rusher. Siavii has power and does a decent job against the run.

Brent, in my view, has much better upside than Siavii and the way that Brent plays this preseason could put Junior on the street.

*Kicker David Buehler has been impressive in his attempt to win over the front office and the coaches with his ability to be the club’s starting kicker. There is no doubt when you watch Buehler on a daily basis that he has tremendous leg strength and power off his foot.

Now the real test has arrived, the preseason games. Buehler needs to be consistent and take advantage of every opportunity he gets in these games.

In the OTAs and minicamps this spring, I saw an inconsistent kicker that struggled to even make the simplest of kicks. The slightest bit of struggle will force the Cowboys to have to make a decision on his future as the placekicker.

There is a plan in place if Buehler fails and these pre season games will determine that.

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