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W2W4: Dallas Cowboys

8/27/2014

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys (0-3) and Denver Broncos (1--2) conclude the preseason tonight at AT&T Stadium.

Three things to watch:

Knocking off the rust: Henry Melton was the Cowboys' biggest free-agent acquisition but the defensive tackle has yet to play in the preseason. He was kept off the field in the opener by a coaches' decision and a groin injury knocked him out of two games. He will play at least a little against the Broncos to sharpen him up a little for the Sept. 7 opener against the San Francisco 49ers. It will be his first game action -- even if it is just for a series or two -- since Week 3 last season when he tore his anterior cruciate ligaments against the Pittsburgh Steelers while with the Chicago Bears. The knee has not given Melton an issue all summer. He feels it is strong, but also said he needs some game time because it has been so long since he played. For the Cowboys' defense to succeed they need Melton to play close to the Pro Bowl form he displayed in 2012.

Keeping off the rust: Orlando Scandrick will not be seen from again after tonight until Sept. 29 because of a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy. The Cowboys have had to balance getting Scandrick enough work to keep him sharp before his month-long absence and making sure his replacement, Sterling Moore was able to get some work. In a normal preseason, Scandrick would not step on the field in a finale, spending the night as a spectator. With his suspension, the Cowboys could use him tonight to keep at least some rust off of him before he can practice again. Scandrick said he would go through double-sessions during the suspension to stay sharp, but there's nothing like game action, even preseason game action.

Hope to see some rust after tonight: The Cowboys hope they won't have to see Brandon Weeden play in a game for a long time after tonight. If he does have to play, then they hope it is in mop-up duty of a big win or loss and not because something happened to Tony Romo. How much or little Weeden plays has not been determined, but the Cowboys know he is not like the veteran quarterbacks they have carried in the past under Garrett, like Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna and Kyle Orton, who had a bevy of starting experience in the NFL. Weeden is only in his third year in the league and first with the Cowboys. His first experience at AT&T Stadium as a Cowboy was admittedly not his best. He forced some throws and was intercepted once by the Baltimore Ravens on Aug. 16. He was much better last week vs. the Miami Dolphins and a solid performance tonight could go a long way in making the Cowboys' front office and coaches feel better about the backup job.