By Matthew Postins
The Dallas Cowboys take their 1-0 record on the road to Kansas City Sunday afternoon to face the Chiefs. Wednesday marks the traditional start to the NFL work week. So here are the five stories you should follow leading up to the game:
Brian Waters: The Dallas Cowboys are not paying Waters up to $3 million this year to sit on the bench. Nor are they satisfied with the play of right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau, who was without a doubt the weakest part of the Cowboys’ offensive line Sunday night. Now, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Bernadeau, who missed most of the offseason due to injuries and surgeries. But the NFL never feels sorry for anyone. Waters is still working his way back into shape. But the second the Cowboys feel he’s ready to play a full game, he’ll replace Bernadeau. The real question is whether it will be this week or next week. Check to see how much he participates in workouts. If Waters is working out with the first team by Thursday, that’s an encouraging sign.
Anthony Spencer: Most arthroscopic knee surgeries require about six weeks of recovery time. We’re coming up on Week 7 of Spencer’s recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery on July 25. The issue doesn’t appear to be structural at this point. It’s conditioning. Spencer hasn’t had a full practice since July. The Dallas Cowboys won’t rush him. Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t play this Sunday, but he’s worth keeping tabs on to see if he’s practicing in a limited fashion by Thursday. If you need an illustration on how important training camp still is, look at Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who wasn’t himself against the Cowboys. He missed all of camp with back injury.
Andy Reid: You know him and you loathe him, if you’re a Cowboys fan. In Philadelphia he always seemed to have the Cowboys’ number. Will that translate to Kansas City? You’ll hear plenty about Reid’s connection to the Cowboys from his days with the Eagles and how that could influence Sunday’s game. More than perhaps any other coach in the NFL he knows what makes the Dallas Cowboys tick.
Third down: The Cowboys struggled on third down last year, to the point where it led to way too many Dan Bailey field goals and Brian Moorman punts. Well, the struggles didn’t end against the Giants Sunday night, as the Cowboys went 5-of-15 on third down. Expect some talk about offensive efficiency this week, especially on that critical down. It could come up in discussion about the run game and balancing the offense, as a solid run game puts any team in shorter downs and distances on second and third down. The Dallas Cowboys have more work to do in that regard, especially if the defense is going to force turnovers and create extra opportunities consistently for this offense.
Dwayne Harris: The special teams stalwart had a special game Sunday night, notching three tackles on coverage units and a pair of punts for nearly 10 yards per return. But I think you’ll hear some questions about his offensive ability starting this week. Terrance Williams looked lost in his regular-season debut, and an obvious miscommunication on a hot read led to Tony Romo’s only interception. Williams caught 2 passes for 32 yards, while Harris caught 2 passes for 12 yards. Harris is a special, multi-purpose player and the Cowboys may be learning that he needs more reps to create big plays for this team. I think Williams will still be the third receiver in name and will grow into that role as the season evolves, but Harris is going to get more chances. We’ll see if that comes up this week.