2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Cowboys, Dolphins get early preseason start

By BARRY WILNER - AP Pro Football Writer
    2013-08-03 11:09

CANTON, Ohio (AP) - The Miami Dolphins could be the only legitimate challenger to New England's AFC East dominance.

The Dallas Cowboys hope they will be a true threat in the NFC East, where both the defending division champion Redskins and the Giants are more highly regarded.

For two teams with so many question marks heading toward the 2013 season, an extra exhibition game can't be a terrible thing - provided no key players get hurt in Sunday night's Hall of Fame game.

Miami already has some injury concerns, with starting receivers Mike Wallace (groin) and Brian Hartline (left calf) hobbled in practice this week.

Dallas quarterback Tony Romo had offseason surgery for a cyst on his back, and coach Jason Garrett has been close-mouthed on Romo's availability for the lone game this weekend. Only Dallas and Miami will play five exhibitions this summer.

Five things to look for in Dolphins vs. Cowboys:

1. WHERE ART THOU, ROMO?: After signing a huge contract (six years, $108 million with $55 million guaranteed), Romo is expected to step up his game and become one of the top few QBs in the league since he is being paid like one. Garrett won't be putting him in any uncomfortable positions during the preseason, so it's unlikely he'll play against Miami.

But even with a banged-up offensive line, the Cowboys must find out soon just how healthy their latest franchise quarterback is and how he reacts to taking a hit. And Romo is eager to be behind center as often as possible to work with a strong group of receivers led by Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Miles Austin.

``I think more than anything just getting back into it, getting the body to start, stop, go, quit, that football entails,'' Romo said of the importance of practice and game action.

2. DION JORDAN'S ROLE: Miami traded up to the third spot in April's draft to grab Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan with the idea he could be the Dolphins' next Jason Taylor. Rookies, once they are signed, usually aren't held back in the preseason, and Jordan could wind up on special teams, too.

``That's a huge part of our team,'' coach Joe Philbin said. ``We have the potential to be very, very good on special teams this year. Dion's had an outstanding attitude toward special teams. To say he's too valuable, absolutely not.''

3. CALLING THE PLAYS IN BIG D: That's Bill Callahan's responsibility this year after Garrett had that chore taken away; he says it was a team decision, but speculation is that owner Jerry Jones opted for the move. The reasoning was that Garrett could be more focused on overall game scenarios if he wasn't telling Romo what play to run each snap.

An offensive line coach by trade - but a former head coach of the Raiders when they lost to Tampa Bay in the 2002 Super Bowl, and at Nebraska - Callahan is no novice. He held the offensive coordinator's title last year, his first with Dallas, and now truly fits the role.

4. STEPPING IN FOR BUSH: Reggie Bush now is in Detroit, leaving Miami as a free agent. He's never been the superstar projected when he came out of Southern Cal, but he's been a playmaker and gained 986 yards rushing and 292 receiving and scored eight times for the Dolphins in 2012.

His replacement could be second-year speedster Lamar Miller. Or it could be third-year man Daniel Thomas if he can stay healthy. Or rookie Mike Gillislee, a fifth-round pick.

5. NEW FACES: Both teams were very active in the offseason, and this game will provide an early look at some of those moves.

Miami brought in Wallace, CB Brent Grimes, LBs Dannell Ellerbe and LB Philip Wheeler, TE Dustin Keller, WR Brandon Gibson and OT Tyson Clabo. Dallas' key newcomer is defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, who made his biggest splash with the Tampa Bay defense that won the 2002 championship and is switching the Cowboys to a 4-3 alignment.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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Carson PalmerSep 16 09:33p

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Josh GordonSep 16 09:23p

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Justin JonesSep 16 07:33p

The Kansas City Chiefs signed free-agent TE Justin Jones (Patriots) to an undisclosed deal Tuesday, Sept. 16.

L. WashingtonSep 16 07:03p

The New York Giants re-signed WR Travis Harvey to their practice squad and signed free-agent WR L'Damian Washington (49ers) to their practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Chris SmithSep 16 06:53p

The Jacksonville Jaguars re-signed LB Chris Smith to their practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Isaiah FreySep 16 06:33p

Chicago Bears CB Isaiah Frey and WR Rashad Ross were signed from the practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Matthew MulliganSep 16 06:23p

The Chicago Bears released TE Matthew Mulligan Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Shaun DraughnSep 16 06:23p

The Chicago Bears placed RB Shaun Draughn and WR Chris X. Williams on no-recall waivers Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Arthur JonesSep 16 06:13p

Indianapolis Colts DT Arthur Jones (ankle) is likely to be out two to four weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 3 Monday, Sept. 15.

Walter ThurmondSep 16 06:03p

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Preston ParkerSep 16 06:03p

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Nevin LawsonSep 16 05:53p

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Victor ButlerSep 16 05:32p

The Arizona Cardinals signed free-agent LB Victor Butler (Saints) and released LB Marcus Benard and P Drew Butler Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Zach BrownSep 16 05:23p

Tennessee Titans LB Zach Brown (pectoral) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Sept. 16.

James AndersonSep 16 05:23p

The Tennessee Titans signed free-agent LB James Anderson (Patriots) to their active roster Tuesday, Sept. 16. The Titans believe Anderson can play an inside linebacker position, where they are thin.

Walter ThurmondSep 16 05:13p

New York Giants CB Walter Thurmond (pectoral) has been placed on season-ending Reserve/Injured Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Doug MartinSep 16 05:13p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (knee) was limited at practice for the second straight day Tuesday, Sept. 16.

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New York Giants WR Jerrel Jernigan (foot) has been placed on season-ending Reserve/Injured Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Logan MankinsSep 16 05:03p

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Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (ankle) fully participated in practice Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Jake MatthewsSep 16 03:53p

Atlanta Falcons OT Jake Matthews (ankle) and LB Prince Shembo (knee) both fully participated in practice Tuesday, Sept. 16.

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Baltimore Ravens CB Asa Jackson (concussion) and CB Lardarius Webb (back) both fully participated in practice Tuesday, Sept. 16.

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The Indianapolis Colts signed OG David Arkin (Seahawks) to the team's practice squad and released OG Josh Walker.

Dion LewisSep 16 03:13p

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