Cowboys Tanner: A Man Possessed


There were several areas where Cowboys players stood out, but one of the most surprising things to me about last night’s game was the hard running of Phillip Tanner.  I was reminded of when he made the team a couple of years ago when he, once again, lost his helmet and kept running.  In numerous plays he ran over and through defenders.  He showed he had some moves as well bouncing off of and spinning away from defenders, making first downs.  He was playing like a man possessed that’s heard way too much about Joseph Randle being drafted to backup starting running back DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar being next in line behind Randle.

Aug 4, 2013; Canton, OH, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Phillip Tanner (34) runs with the ball after losing his helmet in the second quarter of the 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame game against the Miami Dolphins at Fawcett Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

This was just the first of five pre-season games, so we will have more chances to see Tanner play and, if he keeps playing like he did last night, I think he will turn the perceived pecking order for the backup running back position on its head.  But, it’s not a sprint it’s a marathon, so the other running backs will still have plenty of chances to make a statement as well.  And they all looked good last night.  Dunbar looked bigger and more muscular, running with power to go along with his speed and elusiveness.  Randle ran hard and showed some elusiveness as well.  Even rookie Kendial Lawrence got into the act with a late touchdown.  The Cowboys won’t be able to keep them all, so I fully expect these guys to make it very difficult for them to decide who to keep.

There were many areas that looked a bit rough for the Cowboys but, after all it was the first pre-season game.  There were bright spots though and I will try to highlight a few here.  George Selvie was an absolute beast from the defensive end position.  Just another guy the scouting department picked up when the line became depleted by injury in training camp.  He sure looks like a keeper to me.  I will be quite surprised if he doesn’t make the team.  Rookie linebacker DeVonte Holloman picked off a pass from the Dolphins and ran it back for a touchdown, showing the rest of us what kind of player the Cowboys thought he was when they drafted him.

Aug 4, 2013; Canton, OH, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Kyle Orton (18) takes the snap from center Travis Frederick (70) against the Miami Dolphins in the 2013 Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie center Travis Frederick sure seemed to make a big difference on the offensive line.  He appears to be quickly picking up the playbook, as well as what the opponent is doing defensively.  His presence was evident in several of the good runs the Cowboys had and he appeared to do a much better job at center, than when he played guard later in the game.  I have previously expressed the thought that a very good center can make the rest of the line better.  That point seemed evident last night.  Frederick will vindicate the faith the Cowboys put in him.

It appears the Cowboys are better off with Dwayne Harris and Lance Dunbar returning kicks, rather than Cole Beasley.  The defensive line appears to be on track and the rest of the defense played fairly well.  Imagine how they will look with the starters.  I was also impressed with some of the runs that came from multiple tight end sets on offense.  It appears the changes to offensive coordinator Bill Callahan as play caller and to Monte Kiffin as defensive coordinator will lead to a more dynamic team on both sides of the ball.

Ready to see more, I’m looking forward to Friday!