Some things I’ll keep a close eye on during the Cowboys-Raiders preseason game:
*This group of linebackers is deep -- really deep.
The Cowboys are going to face a difficult decision. Do you release Jason Williams, the third-round selection of 2009, for, say, Leon Williams? There is talent in Jason Williams, and you can see that. But does he have the mental makeup to be a consistent player in this defense where you are not only asked to play run but also be reliable in pass coverage?
Mental mistakes will get you beat and watching the way that this defensive staff operates, the Cowboys will not put you on the field if you are making mistakes. There were times in San Antonio when Jason Williams would lose his man in coverage. You would see him reaching or searching to find Jason Witten or John Phillips behind him.
On the Bengals' touchdown Sunday, it appeared that Williams lost his man in the back of the end zone. He was moving along the goal line and not at the proper depth to defend the ball. There was help to his left as he drifted into the flat while the receiver worked the back of the end line.
Jason Williams will get another opportunity to prove that he deserves to be on this team. Watch and see which Williams plays better against Oakland: Jason or Leon.
*Have been floating the idea of two tight ends and two fullbacks on the final roster. Interested in seeing more of fullback Chris Gronkowski in the role of that potential H-Back, move guy player.
Gronkowski is 240 pounds, runs a 4.70 and has wonderful hands. With the difficulty of trying to find a tight end off the street or maybe another club releasing one, this appears like the perfect opportunity to see if he can really do the role.
John Phillips was a player that could line up all over the place and give you good reps on special teams. Gronkowski appears to have the similar skill set.
Early in camp, you heard that he needed to be more forceful at the point of attack, which was true when you watched 9-on-7 from San Antonio. In the Cincinnati game, he did a much better job of hitting square and making something happen as did Deon Anderson.
Two fullbacks and two tight ends a possibility? We will see.
The main problem that Brewster has to deal with right now is that he doesn’t play with quick feet. When you have to get out of your stance and get to the edge, your feet really need to work. Brewster’s feet at times will stop on contact and then he will struggle to keep his position on his man giving up the edge.
Another area that Brewster struggles in is when he has to deal with power. Brewster doesn’t play like the strongest guy and at times he will give up too much ground on the rush, which happened to him in San Antonio and the Cincinnati game.
Brewster will most likely make this team, because you really don’t want to give up on a young offensive linemen. But you would like to see him make some improvement from his first game to the next.
*With the injury to Dez Bryant, it appears that for the time being, that the Cowboys are going to have to carry six receivers on their 53-man roster. The sixth receiver in my book talent-wise is Sam Hurd, but what he does on special teams makes him one of your 45 each week that dresses for the game.
In the Cincinnati game, it was interesting to me that Jesse Holley took more of an active role on special teams. Holley covered kicks and took Hurd’s important job as the personal protector on the punt team.
Could special teams coach Joe DeCamillis be trying to find a suitable replacement for Hurd? And does the front office feel that Holley has more of an upside as a receiver than Hurd? This is an area that is worth watching as these games in the preseason unfold.