Seattle Storylines What To Watch In Saturday's Preseason Opener Rob Phillips - DallasCowboys.com Staff Writer August 11, 2006 6:38 PM SEATTLE - Finally there's light at the end of the tunnel. After conducting 19 practices and an intra-squad scrimmage over the last two weeks, the Cowboys will get to hit someone else here Saturday (7 p.m. PDT) when they face the defending NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field. For the players, Saturday's preseason opener offers a break from the daily monotony of training camp. For head coach Bill Parcells, it's a chance to measure his team's progress against live competition. Parcells never seems fully comfortable with any aspect of his roster. So instead of devising an extensive game-plan for Seattle, he's focusing on unsettled positions (i.e. right tackle) and the wealth of young players auditioning for roster spots and/or playing time. Expect Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren to take a similar approach rather than play his starters for an extended period. Seasoned veterans like quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who will give way to Tony Romo on Saturday, and wide receiver Terrell Owens, who didn't make the trip because of a sore hamstring, just aren't high on Parcells' priority list - yet. Here's a sample of what Parcells probably will look for Saturday night: Tony's Turn: Romo hasn't started a game at quarterback since his senior year at Eastern Illinois. The Seahawks' defense will provide a stiffer test than Romo's college rival Western Illinois, but Parcells believes the fourth-year quarterback has waited long enough for his first NFL start, even if it's just preseason. "I'm excited," Romo said following the Cowboys' walk-through Friday morning. "It's another football game, but I don't prepare any differently." Romo still hasn't thrown a regular-season pass since signing with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2003. The Cowboys have been pleased with his progress the last three years, but Parcells wants to give Romo a chance to prove it on the field before the regular season gets any nearer. Parcells doesn't think the 34-year-old Bledsoe needs as much early-preseason work as Romo, particularly with the Cowboys' projected first-team offense in flux. Owens is out, and Parcells plans to play several young offensive linemen. With Romo entering the final year of his contract, the Cowboys would like to find out if he's capable of effectively leading an offense. But this isn't a one-time audition in Parcells' eyes. "I certainly don't want to put Romo in a situation where Saturday night in Seattle is his defining moment," Parcells said. "I don't think this week - I just want to get him in the game, run the team and see how he looks." Expect Romo to play into the third quarter before he's relieved by third-stringer Drew Henson. Line of Contention: Besides right guard, Parcells doesn't seem satisfied with his other four offensive line positions yet. He's hoping the preseason makes things clearer. Right tackle again is the biggest question mark. Parcells plans to rotate two of his three candidates Saturday and save the odd man out - likely 10th-year veteran Jason Fabini - for the Aug. 21 preseason game against New Orleans. Marc Colombo and last year's starter Rob Petitti probably will split time against Seattle. Parcells also wants to play veteran left tackle Flozell Adams, who has continued to look more comfortable in his return from last year's season-ending knee surgery. "This is really the first injury I've ever had," Adams said Thursday. "The first couple of days in practice are kind of tough because it takes a while to get acclimated again. I haven't been out there since October. It's been a while. I'm trying to re-learn a lot of steps again." Parcells evidently believes Adams needs work against a real opponent, but seventh-round pick Pat McQuistan is expected to take a significant number of snaps, too. Adams won't be out there too long. The real center competition also begins between last year's starter Al Johnson and Andre Gurode, who has taken most of the first-team snaps in training camp. And Kyle Kosier will make his first start at left guard in place of the departed Larry Allen. There's plenty to watch for in the trenches Saturday night. Catch This: No T.O. means this offense will look nothing like the finished product. But Parcells still has concerns about depth at the wide receiver position and said earlier this week the Cowboys are willing to trade for a capable backup. Patrick Crayton is out to prove he can become a consistent third receiver after a mid-season ankle injury took him out of his offensive rhythm last year. The Cowboys also have several young receivers fighting for two or three roster spots. Rookie free agent Sam Hurd has been the surprise of camp, but Jamaica Rector is still in contention. Fourth-round pick Skyler Green should get a chance to return punts against the Seahawks, and second-round pick Anthony Fasano will get plenty of snaps at tight end. Big, Young D: If the last two weeks are any indication, the Cowboys defense is deeper and more talented than any group Parcells has coached since arriving in 2003. Young stars like Roy Williams, Terence Newman and Bradie James are the new leaders, but second-year players like linebacker Kevin Burnett and defensive end Jay Ratliff have turned some heads in camp. Both will play significantly against Seattle, as will first-round pick Bobby Carpenter and fifth-round pick Pat Watkins. And it'll be interesting to see how career defensive end Greg Ellis fares in his first game as an outside linebacker. Kicking, Not Screaming: Mike Vanderjagt hasn't looked like the most accurate kicker in NFL history here in training camp. He has pushed several field-goal attempts and seems to lack his trademark leg strength. Vanderjagt is a notoriously slow starter, and he's been hampered by a sore quad and groin in practice. A couple of field-goal makes against Seattle would ease Parcells' mind. Shaun Suisham and Tyler Fredrickson are expected to handle kickoffs. Running Man: Parcells envisions a multiple-back system featuring Julius Jones and Marion Barber, but he'd also like second-year back Tyson Thompson to make a push for carries. Thompson worked with the first team a little this week, and Parcells says he has a better handle of the offense. Expect him to get a sizable number of carries against the Seahawks' defense. Nose Pluggers: With La'Roi Glover gone, Parcells needs a backup nose tackle to emerge behind starter Jason Ferguson. Second-year veteran lineman Thomas Johnson and sixth-round pick Montavious Stanley haven't stepped forward so far in camp. Parcells is counting on at least one of them to play well in preseason. .