No Dak or Zeke, but here's what to look for in the Hall of Fame game

Who's excited for football Thursday night?

I mean, I can't blame you. But I'm just not there yet. Sure, it's a tangible sign that real football is coming. Sure, we'll get to see some of the young guys who could be difference makers for this Cowboys team get on the field tonight. 

But by and large, this is a glorified scrimmage. It’s taking the place of the Blue and White Scrimmage from years past.

You want an idea of just how little this will resemble regular season football?  It's too small a game for the Cowboys to even risk KELLEN MOORE for more than a couple series. Cooper Rush will be the quarterback you see for the majority of tonight's game, because Moore is still technically coming off that broken ankle from a year ago.

You get to see Luke McCown tonight. Does that rev the engines?

Sure, we could make fun of the guys who are going to play in this game for the entire article.  But that gets boring quick. Frankly, I'm already there. So let's actually talk at least a little bit about the things that are going to be worth watching tonight.

Rookie Defensive Backs

The Cowboys spent four of their 2017 draft picks on restocking their defensive backfield.  Second round pick Chidobe Awuzie, third round pick Jourdan Lewis, sixth round pick Xavier Woods, and sixth round pick Marquez White. Each of these guys is competing to see the field this season on a regular basis. At least one of these guys will likely have to play a vast majority of the snaps this season, along with Byron Jones, Jeff Heath, Nolan Carroll, and Orlando Scandrick. And it would probably make the Cowboys very happy to see at least one of these guys stealing playing time from the four "starters" at this point.

Taco Charlton

There's a theme here. You're pretty much going to see a field full of rookies tonight (and some second- and third-year guys who are still trying to earn their spot in the league).  The only ones really worth watching are the big name young'ns who could make an impact this year.  If the Cowboys are to be any good defensively in 2017, they'll likely need at least some presence from their first round pick. Taco hasn't blown anyone away at training camp thus far, but there's only so much you can do in practice. Seeing him on a game field, against someone in a different color jersey will be very helpful in the process of evaluating Charlton.

Rico Gathers

So many people are curious about Rico. In part because he's a former college basketball player, and we've seen that path work very well for guys in the past (like future Hall of Famers Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez). And in part because Cowboys owner Jerry Jones keeps talking him up, every once in awhile. This spring, Jones said that he expected Gathers to make an impact in 2017. That may still be premature, but tonight will provide another chance to see what kind of growth has actually taken place, for a guy who is still a bit stiff, and is definitely still raw. The physical tools are there. But there's still development that has to take place, before he can really see some time in the regular season.

Beyond that, you're basically just looking to see who shines. Does Noah Brown make a spectacular catch? Does Ryan Switzer show off the scoots? Does Kellen Moore throw the ball further than 17 yards?

It's all very enthralling. Enjoy "football", tonight.

The real stuff is still five weeks away.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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