Dallas Cowboys Beat Miami Dolphins, but Orie Lemon Wins

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistAugust 30, 2012

Aug 29, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Orie Lemon (58) scores a touchdown after an interception during the second quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

Second-year linebacker Orie Lemon entered the final preseason game on the roster bubble, but one play might have secured Lemon's job for 2012. 

Actually, in Lemon's defense, he had a few solid plays in the first half against Miami. But the play that showed he can be a game-changer took place early in the second quarter, when the 24-year-old Oklahoma State product stepped in front of a Matt Moore pass on a crossing route to Marcus Thigpen, made the interception and took it to the house.

Lemon might only be able to make the team as a fourth inside linebacker, but he actually outplayed Dan Connor for the majority of August. Connor was given a two-year, $6.5 million contract in the offseason, and that might be the only reason why he's still listed ahead of Lemon and Bruce Carter on the depth chart.

The linebacker spot next to Sean Lee's has been considered one of the weaker spots on this defense, but it's beginning to look as though that'll change this year. The Cowboys enter the season with three stellar options there.

A few more thoughts on the Cowboys' final preseason game:


That might be it for Stephen McGee

The Cowboys clearly don't have confidence in McGee, otherwise they wouldn't have brought in Kyle Orton in the offseason. Now, there's a good chance McGee's run in Dallas could be coming to an end after three seasons.

McGee completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes and posted a 65.4 passer rating in the finale. Rudy Carpenter wasn't much better in this game, or in the preseason overall, but Carpenter's standout performance against the Chargers might tip the scales.

Of course, it's possible Dallas goes with only two quarterbacks and both get cut. Either way, McGee is in trouble.


Too early to get a read on Phil Costa

The center made his preseason debut and was the only starter to take part Wednesday night, but Costa took only 12 snaps. Not a big enough sample size to draw conclusions, but it was nice to see him hold his ground. Oh, and he didn't botch any snaps. So he's got that going for him.

This week will be a big one for Costa. He'll surely start against the Giants next Wednesday, so hopefully the work he got in against the Dolphins knocked off some rust.


Andre Holmes maintains an edge over Danny Coale

The Cowboys might have preferred to see Coale deliver in the finale, since they actually used a draft pick on him, but Holmes had a slightly better outing. I say slightly because both bubble receivers had one catch, but Holmes' went for 32 yards. Coale picked up only 13 on his sole reception.

Coale dealt with injuries and had only two catches in the preseason, while Holmes was fairly consistent throughout and might be a more potent deep threat if needed. 

If the Cowboys only keep five receivers, neither will make the team and they'll try to sneak both onto the practice squad. If they keep six, I think they'll risk exposing their rookie fifth-round pick to waivers.