What I'll be watching: Cowboys-Chargers

August, 18, 2012
8/18/12
4:00
PM ET
The Dallas Cowboys play their second preseason game of the year tonight in San Diego against the Chargers. The game is at 9 pm ET, 8 pm CT and 6 pm PT. Here's a look at what I'll be watching...

Most closely: Offensive productivity. Yes, the offensive line is the big issue with the Cowboys these days. But even if it improves, it's never going to be a strength. The Cowboys will need to be able to produce in back of a substandard line in 2012. Tony Romo will have to complete passes anyway. DeMarco Murray will have to find holes anyway. So I'm interested to see what the Cowboys come up with as a way to move the ball while the line is struggling as badly as it is this preseason. It's not going to be easy with Miles Austin and Jason Witten injured and out, but the Cowboys will be looking for signs of offensive life that didn't show up in the preseason opener Monday in Oakland.

On the other side of the ball: Well, Morris Claiborne, of course. The rookie cornerback on whom the Cowboys spent their first two draft picks in April looks set to make his preseason debut. And considering that the key part of Dallas' plan to fix its defense is to rely on Claiborne and free-agent pickup Brandon Carr to lock down receivers in man coverage, San Diego offers a nifty first test. Top pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware is out with a hamstring injury, because those were apparently contagious in Oxnard this year, so if the secondary really can help the pass rush look better, this would be a good time to show it. My guess is that the Chargers will go right after Claiborne to test him out, so we should get a chance to see what he's got.

If I think of it: Safety play, with Barry Church and Gerald Sensabaugh both looking good so far. Could be a surprise strength... Third wide receiver candidates, of course. Andre Holmes showed something in the first game... More of Tyrone Crawford as a situational pass-rusher.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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