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by Al McMordie - 09/02/2010
Week 4 of the preseason is on deck and that's the time many coaches sit their starters the most, not caring about the game, trying to stay healthy. The preseason has given us insight into many changes that have taken place, as well as key injuries that will have an impact in September.
There's a significant one in Oakland, as new Raiders' quarterback Jason Campbell was carted off the field against San Francisco on Saturday. It's not serious, as he was hit with a blindside sack that left him writhing on the turf. "It felt a lot worse at the time that it happened, but they don't think it's going to be really serious," Campbell said. It's more of a deep stinger, a serious welt. Still, it's unlikely the Raiders would use him in Thursday's Week 4 with nothing at stake. That means you will see more of Bruce Gradkowski, Kyle Boller and Colt Brennan for Oakland. Gradkowski is coming back from surgery and made just his first appearance of the preseason this past weekend, even though he's the No. 2 QB.
The Baltimore Ravens added two potentially important wide receivers to upgrade their passing attack in Anquan Boldin and Donte' Stallworth. However, Stallworth broke his foot in Saturday night's game against the New York Giants and will likely be out for two months.
The Miami Dolphins haven't been able to run the football in preseason because of injuries on the offensive line. Injuries to center Jake Grove and left guard Nate Garner have hampered the offensive line's progress and there seems to be a lack of cohesion on the line, with three new starters between tackles Jake Long and Vernon Carey. They had just 241 total yards (2.6 yards per rush) in Saturday's 16-6 home loss to Atlanta. For the second week in a row, quarterback Chad Henne forced a throw when inside the opponents' 10. The Dolphins have an average of 2.63 yards per carry this preseason. Miami is playing at Dallas this week and is 9-2 under the total in preseason under Coach Tony Sparano, and a sizzling 9-2 SU, 7-3-1 ATS.
This is the fifth game for the Cowboys, having played in the Hall of Fame game. You would think at this point Dallas would be sick of the preseason and just want to stay healthy and get it over with. However, they played so bad in Saturday's 23-7 loss at Houston that the coaching staff hinted at more time for the starters for the preseason finale. "I'm not ruling out that we won't play our guys," an agitated Wade Phillips said. "We have to evaluate this." In the locker room, he kept the door closed longer to chew the Cowboys out, telling them they are not ready for the regular-season opener Sept. 12 at Washington. "He made some valid coaching points," said Alex Barron. "He said some things that we needed to hear."
They had just 239 total yards, and were outrushed 173-13! The three-back combination of Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice combined for nine yards on nine carries. Barber and Jones, the top two backs in this arrangement, have combined for 44 yards on 24 carries in exhibition play. Jones also did not pick up a Romo audible in the second quarter and was not in position to take a pitch. It was enough to upset the mild-mannered Phillips, which means it was really bad.
The Cowboys' defense allowed scoring drives of nine, 12 and 17 plays. The run defense vanished, as the Texans averaged 4.8 yards per carry. The mistake-ridden performance moved Wade Phillips to consider something he has not done in his previous three seasons in this job: Giving the first-teamers some playing time in Thursday's final exhibition against Miami. "Emotion is a lot of the game," added Phillips. "Flying around is a lot of the game. I didn't see a lot of that."
The Cowboys also haven't cared, generally, about preseason results with Coach Wade Phillips, going 6-9 SU, 5-10 ATS in his four years at the helm.
And when is Kansas City going to win a preseason game? The rebuilding Chiefs are 0-7 SU/ATS in preseason under Coach Todd Haley, while averaging 14 ppg (6-1 under the total) the last two years. Some good news is that the Chiefs sacked Philadelphia quarterbacks five times last Friday. Linebackers Demorrio Williams and Andy Studebaker had two sacks apiece, and defensive lineman Dion Gales added one. So the defense is getting better, but the offense is still way behind. They get their final chance to get their first preseason win since 2008, hosting the Packers Thursday. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.