Five players to watch against the Cowboys

May, 14, 2012
5/14/12
12:19
PM ET
I've decided to compile a list of five players the Cowboys will face in 2012 who could give them fits. This doesn't include Eli Manning, the New York Giants receivers, Ray Lewis, Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, Atlanta's receivers, New Orleans' offense or Ben Roethlisberger. It's just five additional guys I see as troublemakers.

Here goes:

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Ben and Skin compare the 1992 Cowboys to the 2012 Cowboys. Position by position do the current Cowboys compare favorably to the team that was about to make the greatest run in franchise history?

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Cam Newton. You love the commercials. But you love his game more. He's got the size, speed and arm strength to test the Cowboys secondary. He won't be the Cowboys' biggest test in the 2012 season, but it will be interesting to see just where the secondary stands when facing Carolina on Oct. 21. The Cowboys might be coming into this game off of a loss because they take on Baltimore the previous week (more on that later), so a two-game losing streak is a strong possibility.

Andy Dalton. The former TCU standout proved last year he can play in this league. When the Cowboys visit Cincinnati on Dec. 9, they will take on the second-year quarterback who compiled a 78.1 quarterback rating but threw eight touchdowns and six interceptions in home games in 2011. NFL teams aren't waiting on quarterbacks to develop, they're playing them now and getting results. Dalton is another example of this.

Fred Davis. The Redskins tight end had seven catches in two games against the Cowboys last season. He's a threat to the linebackers and safeties who might cover him. Does Brodney Pool cover Davis? Gerald Sensabaugh? Anthony Spencer? Davis is athletic enough to provide matchup problems and with Robert Griffin III moving around the pocket, Davis becomes a target to find on the run.

Jason Pierre-Paul. The New York Giants defensive end is the new Cowboys killer. In two games last year, Pierre-Paul had 13 tackles, three sacks and a blocked field goal. The Cowboys couldn't contain this man. Last year, Doug Free had trouble with Pierre-Paul. Now, Tyron Smith gets his turn at one of the better young defensive players in the game.

Courtney Upshaw. Terrell Suggs' injury might keep him out for the Oct. 14 matchup between Baltimore and Dallas. If he's not available -- and it appears he won't be -- the rookie from Alabama will show the Cowboys what he can do. Jason Garrett saw him at Alabama's Pro Day. There's a thought that Upshaw is no different than Anthony Spencer in terms of skill set from the outside linebacker position. Early in the draft process, the Cowboys were linked to Upshaw as a mid-first round pick. But Upshaw dropped to the second round. We'll see what he can do against Dallas.

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