- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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MIAMI -- The next time Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Jason Witten and most of the projected starters on defense are on the field will be in the Dallas Cowboys’ regular-season opener against the San Francisco 49ers on Sept. 7.
The Cowboys have not played their starters in the final preseason game since 2006, and there is no reason for Jason Garrett to risk his regulars Thursday against the Denver Broncos at AT&T Stadium.
Despite the 0-3 record, Garrett pronounced the Cowboys ready, but in part because they have no choice but to be ready.
“That’s the nature of it,” Garrett said. “Hopefully, you get better day after day, game after game. You have to improve over the course of the season. One of the things we always preach to our team is the players and teams that improve over the course of the season are the ones that are going to be there at the end. Are we ready? Are we playing at our optimum level right now? Absolutely not. In 31 other cities, if they’re honest, they’ll probably say the same thing. But after three preseason games this is where we are. We go back to work on Monday morning, keep trying to improve our football team and get ready for a great challenge against a team that has advanced to the NFC Championship the last three years.”
The Cowboys will have to reduce the roster to 75 by Tuesday and will have to get to the final 53-man roster by Saturday. There will be plenty of work to be done to fill in roster spots with trades, free-agent signings or waiver-wire pickups.
The Cowboys started some of their game-planning for the Niners while in Oxnard, California, but will kick it up a notch this week and leading into the opener.
“There’s some good things to build on and obviously some things to correct, and we’ll go back to work in practice to do that and get ready for that challenge against the Niners in Week 1,” Garrett said.