Cowboys vs. Raiders: What to Watch for in Monday Night's Game

Oliver ThomasContributor IAugust 13, 2012

Darren McFadden is one of the storylines heading into Monday's game.
Darren McFadden is one of the storylines heading into Monday's game.Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders are set for their preseason tilt on Monday night. Be sure to tune in for ESPN's broadcast because there will be plenty to watch for once the clock strikes 8 P.M. EDT.

Here are the biggest storylines on tap for this primetime NFL showdown.


Darren McFadden Returning from Injury

Raiders running back Darren McFadden was limited to just seven games last year. In fact, the 2008 first-round pick hasn't seen any live game action since October 23, 2011.

McFadden expressed his outlook to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle:

"I can't worry about last year," he said. "Or that people say I always get hurt. I am always in shape and I work hard...If anyone has any answers as to how I can avoid getting hurt, with these fluke-type injuries, I would love to hear them."

This will be an opportunity for the former 1,000-yard rusher to get back on his feet after suffering a Lisfranc fracture. But the injury-prone tag won't be leaving him any time soon—he's missed at least three contests in each of his four NFL seasons.

It would be a surprise to see McFadden play more than the first couple series, especially due to his medical history.


Dallas' Offensive Line Facing Oakland's Defensive Line

Cowboys' starting center Phil Costa won't be playing tonight, reports Calvin Watkins of Watkins indicates there will be an array of men handling the snapping duties, which could include natural guards like David Arkin, Harland Gunn and tackle Pat McQuistan.

As a result of that, the Raiders defensive front should have some fun. It is unclear how much Oakland's starting D-linemen Lamarr Houston, Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly and Matt Shaughnessy will play, but they should be disruptive.


The Cowboys' Backup Wide Receiver Battle

According to's Watkins, the Cowboys are expected to be without top wideouts Miles Austin and Dez Bryant due to hamstring issues. Their absence opens the door for some unsung receivers to make the squad.

Among those who should get a good look are Dwayne Harris, Kevin Ogletree and Raymond Radway.

The 24-year-old Dwayne Harris was a return man last year for Dallas, but failed to record a reception in seven games.

Third-year man Kevin Ogletree was a solid backup target in 2011, notching 15 catches for 164 yards behind Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Laurent Robinson.

The feel-good story of the wide receiving corps is former undrafted free agent Raymond Radway. The Abilene Christian product broke his leg with three seconds left in the final preseason game of last year (via Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram). He had an excellent shot of making the roster then, so it will be interesting to see how he performs tonight.


Terrelle Pryor Will Get Some Reps

Ex-Ohio State dual-threat quarterback Terrelle Pryor has been irrelevant ever since he was taken by the Raiders in last year's supplemental draft.

Now is his opportunity to change that. And Pyror sounded excited to do so, per Jerry McDonald of the San Jose Mercury News:

"I can't wait. It's been a long time for me to play football," Pryor said. "It's what I was born to do. God blessed me. He gave me great talent, and I can finally use it again. It's been a long time."

Pyror is a project, yet if he plays well, who knows what the future will hold for the once highly-touted prospect.


In Conclusion

The final score may not matter, but these specific performances certainly do.

Keep an eye out for how Darren McFadden, the linemen, Dallas' wideouts and Terrelle Pryor fare in tonight's game at Coliseum in Oakland.