Battle of the Week
Al Johnson vs Tyson Walter for starting C -- The common assumption going into training camp was that Johnson would take over at center. He was drafted in the second round last season to be the center of the future but suffered a season-ending knee injury in training camp. Now healthy, he has supposed to finally take over. Walter, however, has been up to the challenge. He has followed up an impressive offseason with a strong training camp. The Cowboys rewarded his efforts by starting him with the first team in the preseason opener against the Texans.
Other Battle Fronts
Jacob Rogers, Torrin Tucker and Javier Collins are battling at right tackle. Tucker seems to have the lead in the battle. He got the first start against the Texans in the preseason opener. However, his performance was less than sterling. Look for Rogers, who has made steady progress, to make a move up the chart this week. ... Pete Hunter, Jameel Powell and rookie Bruce Thornton at right corner. Hunter has the leg up because he is a three-year veteran. However, he has yet to distinguish himself. He didn't do anything spectacular in the passing game against the Texans and had trouble tackling in the game. Powell will get a longer look this week.
Player of the Week
LB Dat Nguyen -- Last season Nguyen gained Parcells' respect as football player with a Pro Bowl worthy performance. Parcells, known to prefer bigger linebackers, was won over by Nguyen's ability to get the football and make plays. He called him a football playing dude. Apparently, Nguyen is still a football playing dude. Parcells said last week that Nguyen could play on any of his teams in any era, including the great Giants teams of the early 80's that included such notable linebackers at Pepper Johnson, Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson. Parcells said Nguyen just makes plays.
The signing of veteran running back Eddie George was supposed to allow the Cowboys to bring rookie second-round pick Julius Jones along slowly.
Jones' performance against the Texans, one of the few bright spots in the 18-0 loss, may force the Cowboys to rethink their plan.
Jones led the Cowboys in rushing with 57 yards on eight carries, including a long of 16 yards. He did this despite entering the game at tailback behind George and first-year man ReShard Lee.
Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said playing against backups in the third and fourth quarter shouldn't take away from Jones' effort.
* The Cowboys have been hyping receiver Patrick Crayton's versatility ever since they made him a seventh round draft pick out of Northwest Oklahoma State.
On Saturday he showed why.
Crayton returned four punts for 52 yards, including a long of 26. He caught one pass for 26 yards. He had one carry on a reverse for six yards and he had a tackle on special teams.
* Cornerback Nate Jones, a little known seventh round pick, has been quietly having a good camp. So much so that he played with the first team in the dime defense. That is, when the Cowboys add two extra defensive backs on obvious passing downs, Jones came on the field along with regular nickel corner Donald Mitchell.
* Guard Steve Peterman didn't have a good showing against the Texans and gave up a bad sack.
SS Darren Woodson: surgery to repair herniated disk (July 27), out 6-8 weeks; C Gennaro DiNapoli: ankle stress fracture (June). Out one month; RB Erik Bickerstaff: surgery to repair torn Achilles'. Injured reserve.
Battle of the Week
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