[picappgallerysingle id="9594168"]Well everyone knew Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips might be bluffing when he said he would play his starters in the final preseason game against Miami on Thursday. It turns out he was half bluffing as he told the media on Tuesday that some starters would play, but third-string quarterback Stephen McGee would start at quarterback for Dallas. That means starting signal-caller Tony Romo will not play in the team’s last exhibition before the regular season begins on September 12. Phillips told the Dallas Morning News that some starters would play against the Dolphins, but of course he did not say which ones. From Phillips’ wording, McGee will play the entire game at quarterback, just like Romo did in 2006 when he eventually took over for Drew Bledsoe halfway through the season. Of course, everyone is mostly interested in the status of first-round draft pick Dez Bryant.
Other than the statement about McGee, Phillips was noncommittal about the status of any specific starters, including the twenty-fourth overall pick. Team owner Jerry Jones told the media that Bryant would only play against Miami if the other starters played, but I highly doubt Bryant will see any action with McGee at the helm instead of Romo. Bryant has been cleared to play and has practice this week, but now it appears he won’t see his first real NFL action until the Cowboys’ season opener at Washington.
[picappgallerysingle id="9572943"]Entering his second season, McGee could easily be fighting for a roster spot in a full exhibition start. The Texas A&M product has shown multiple signs of talent and potential, but his inconsistency against second and third-team defenses has created some doubt in Phillips and the rest of the Dallas coaching staff’s minds. Second-round pick Sean Lee will most likely start at inside linebacker while the Cowboys continue to rest veteran Keith Brooking. Lee will be doing the same thing as McGee, expect on the opposite side of the ball.
It’s very disappointing to hear that it’s unlikely we’ll see Bryant in action on Thursday, but I applaud the Cowboys for not rushing the rookie back onto the field following his high ankle sprain. In what seems like a coincidence, starting wide receiver Roy Williams sat out Tuesday’s practice as Bryant filled his spot. Williams is still bothered by a lower back strain and hip flexor that plagued him during the preseason loss to Houston. Since Phillips said only some starters will play, it’s also highly unlikely Williams will play for precautionary reasons. So I guess hold off on your excitement for when the real games start because that’s when we’ll most likely see all of the Cowboys’ starters in action together. In the meantime, you can put on your Aggie gear and root for McGee and cross your fingers for your favorite roster-hopefuls.