San Diego managed to defeat the Green Bay Packers, 21-13, in its first preseason game. The starters didn't receive a ton of time, but reserve players, like backup quarterback Jarrett Lee, made the game worthwhile.
This game should be much better. Each team has played together a week longer, and more wrinkles have been ironed out.
Let's take a look at everything you need to know about Saturday night's preseason contest.
Where: Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif.
When: Saturday, August 18 at 9:00 p.m. ET
Watch: KFMB-TV, KCBS-TV (San Diego) and CBS 11 (Dallas)
*Game will also be broadcast on NFL Network
*Also, word is that the game will be blacked out in Southern California (per ESPN.com)
Live Stream: Preseason Live
Listen: Rock 105.3 FM, AM 570 KLAC (San Diego) and 105.3 The Fan FM (Dallas); Sirius XM- San Diego (85), Dallas (128)
Betting Line: San Diego (-3) via ESPN.com
What's At Stake?
Aside from the pride associated with any football game, this is still preseason. Both squads hope to continue developing young talent and hope to leave Qualcomm Stadium with no more injuries than they brought to the field.
The Cowboys would like to see what else they have in their young receiving corps. Miles Austin is still nursing a hamstring injury, and it's important to find another solid option outside of Dez Bryant. Andre Holmes had three catches for 40 yards to lead the team against the Raiders in Week 1, and bringing him along further is a nice goal to have.
San Diego would like to see what it has behind injured ball-carrier Ryan Mathews once again in its second preseason game. Curtis Brinkley, Michael Hayes and Ronnie Brown combined for 60 yards in the Chargers' victory over the Packers in their first game. It will also be interesting to see how Jarrett Lee does after his 235-yard passing performance in Week 1.
Chargers Injury Report (via CBSSports.com)
Out: RB Ryan Mathews (shoulder), WR Robert Meachem (knee)
Questionable: WR Eddie Royal (leg, groin), QB Charlie Whitehurst (knee)
Cowboys Injury Report (via CBSSports.com)
Out: WR Miles Austin (hamstring), LB Caleb McSurdy (achilles), TE Jason Witten (spleen), LB Kyle Wilber (thumb), RB Phillip Tanner (hand), LB Anthony Spencer (hamstring)
Questionable: DB Morris Claiborne (knee)
What They're Saying
San Diego's prized rookie entering the season is DE/OLB Melvin Ingram. In his first preseason contest, Ingram made two tackles and rushed Aaron Rodgers into a critical interception.
Chargers defensive back Quintin Jammer, had this to say about his rookie teammate in an interview with Los Angeles Times reporter Lance Pugmire:
In this game, you always need someone to get after the quarterback. I know that's why we targeted him, but I think he's been even better than what was expected.
You should see him at practice. He can straight bull-rush linemen or get around you with a serious spin move. He'll make a huge contribution.
This guy is an absolute monster — big, strong and fast, and he has a motor on him beyond what you'd expect. Most guys who rush don't have all of those attributes.
That sounds like high praise from a veteran NFL cornerback. I can't say I'm surprised. Ingram fills every requisite category to succeed in this league unless you want to nitpick with his arm length.
The Cowboys' secondary was one of their most-maligned units last season, but they're expected to be much better this season. Corners Brandon Carr and rookie Morris Claiborne (once healthy) figure to make a major difference on the outside. Safety is a bit more up in the air, but Gerald Sensabaugh and Barry Church both played well against Oakland.
Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee had this to say about Dallas' current safety duo in an interview with ESPN Dallas reporter Todd Archer:
Gerald's a guy who's stepped up not only on the field but off the field as a leader, communication-wise. Barry Church is a guy who's really a good football player who's now been given a chance and he looks like he's taking advantage of the opportunity.
Chargers Key Addition: DE/OLB Melvin Ingram
I've already touched on him briefly, but Ingram is the Chargers' crown jewel entering the season. He's expected to create an immediate impact off the edge both as a pass-rusher and staunch run-supporter.
San Diego will forget about Shawne Merriman quickly once Ingram begins the regular season, if it hasn't already (I hope they have).
He's a versatile player who's capable of playing with his hand in the dirt or standing up on the line. The Chargers needed to get tougher in their front seven after last season's disappointing performance, and Ingram gives the entire unit a boost.
Expect major things from this rookie. If I had to pick, I'd pick Ingram to have the biggest year out of all rookie defenders.
Cowboys Key Addition: CB Brandon Carr
This could have been Morris Claiborne, but I'll stick with someone who is currently healthy. The Cowboys did an excellent job of addressing their biggest need this offseason, and Carr is the centerpiece of that revitalization.
Last year for Kansas City, he had 45 tackles and four interceptions. In his five-year career, he has nearly 240 tackles and eight interceptions overall.
At 26 years old, Carr still has room to improve. He's got the size to excel in man coverage, and he's physical enough to stand up to the challenge.
The Cowboys were way too easy to pass the ball on last season, but Carr will make for much tougher sledding.
Key Matchup: Curtis Brinkley vs. Ronnie Brown
It's hard for me to call this a matchup for a few reasons. We don't know when Mathews will wind up being healthy, and I expect the Chargers to adopt a committee approach until he does finally return.
Nonetheless, these two San Diego ball-carriers are being judged against one another right now.
Brinkley is far less established, but he did run for 42 yards on 11 carries against the Packers. He also found the end zone once. Brown only touched the ball three times and carried the ball for eight yards.
Chargers fans should expect to see a lot more of Brinkley on Saturday. Both players will wind up playing if Mathews isn't ready for Week 1 of the regular season, but Brinkley's play will determine how many carries he receives compared to the veteran Brown.
Chargers 21, Cowboys 20