The Dallas Cowboys football season is finally (almost) here. In just one more day, America’s Team will kickoff the new league year against the defending Super Bowl champions in front of a worldwide audience. .
There are plenty of storylines surrounding the highly anticipated matchup. Dak Prescott returning to the field for the first time since week five of last season is certainly at the top of the list. Tom Brady and Tampa Bay going for a repeat is another.
The whole football world will have its eyes glued to the television.
OL QUESTION MARKS
Dallas received some unfortunate news just days before kickoff. All-Pro right guard Zack Martin is in COVID-19 protocol and his status for Thursday is in serious doubt. The Cowboys will have to protect Prescott without Martin against a fierce Bucs defense.
Replacing Martin in the lineup is already difficult enough — and that is without factoring in Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh on the other side of the line of scrimmage. Connor McGovern is in line to take over in week one, barring a big surprise. Second-year center Tyler Biadasz and Connor Williams will play alongside McGovern in the interior.
Tyron Smith has not been practicing with a neck roll for the first time in what feels like forever. That is a great sign of where Smith’s health stands entering the season after playing in just two games in 2020.
LT Tyron Smith: “Been awhile since I have felt this good. Don’t know if you guys saw but I usually have a huge Cowboy neck roll on. Finally took that off…feel normal now.” pic.twitter.com/gUnzY8k6Hz
— Brianna Dix (@DixBrianna) September 2, 2021
On the opposite side, though, La’el Collins is dealing with injury concerns of his own. The Cowboys’ right tackle has been dealing with neck problems in the preseason after missing all of last season with a hip injury. Fortunately, Collins is on track to start in the opening game.
The last thing that the Cowboys wanted to deal with in Prescott’s return to action is question marks along the offensive line. This is certainly something to watch against an aggressive Buccaneers defense.
DAK PRESCOTT IS BACK FOR COWBOYS
Dak Prescott is set to take the field in a real game for the first time since October 11, 2020. Prescott was on pace to shatter passing records prior to his ankle injury, and the quarterback looks like he’s ready to pick up where he left off.
In fact, he is determined to be even better.
I plan to come out better than I was last year, to be honest. That’s just the work that I’ve put in going all the way back to February when I got back on the field. I’m excited for it.”
It’s not just Prescott telling Jon Machota that, either. His teammates are noticing it and talking about it. Michael Gallup said that Prescott has “not missed a beat” and that he is like a coach on the field.
Cowboys WR Michael Gallup on QB Dak Prescott before his first game in nearly 11 months: “Dak looks like he’s never left. He’s leading the team. He’s leading the offense. He’s (like) a coach on the field. …He’s just a general. He hasn’t missed a beat.”
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) September 7, 2021
That is exciting news. It will be great to see Dak Prescott back in meaningful action for the Dallas Cowboys.
me on Thursday: pic.twitter.com/PPjkxR0M5Q
— /𝗿/𝗰𝗼𝘄𝗯𝗼𝘆𝘀 ✭ (@redditcowboys) September 7, 2021
BUCCANEERS OFFENSE IS BIG CHALLENGE
Many expect the Dallas Cowboys to field a better defense in 2020. I mean, it will be difficult for the unit to be much worse than it was last year. The only way to go is up, right?
The additions of Micah Parsons, Keanu Neal, Jabril Cox, Malik Hooker, and Damantoe Kazee are big reasons for optimism. Parsons looks like a star in the making, while the others provide key depth at important positions.
Dan Quinn replacing Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator is the primary reason for optimism, though. Quinn’s scheme certainly fits the personnel much better than Nolan’s. Quinn also has an impressive resume that includes coaching the Legion of Boom in Seattle and taking the Falcons to a Super Bowl appearance.
Tampa Bay is a huge challenge right out of the gate. Tom Brady at quarterback. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown out wide to catch passes. The Bucs also have an impressive offensive line and a capable running back corps.
The Cowboys are well aware of the fact that the defense must perform well in order to give Dallas an opportunity to win.
Cowboys DL coach Aden Durde talking to the defensive line room on Hard Knocks: “The No. 1 thing on Thursday night is we make 12 (Tom Brady) uncomfortable every f*ckin snap. If we do our job on Thursday night, I promise you we win this game.”
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) September 8, 2021
Dallas Cowboys football will be back after one more sleep. It is finally here.
Featured image via Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports