Dallas Cowboys: 5 Big Preseason Position Battles to Watch

Alex Hall@@AlexKHallCorrespondent IIIAugust 15, 2011

Dallas Cowboys: 5 Big Preseason Position Battles to Watch

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    After many months of indecision, the NFL is finally back to normal, and Preseason football has begun. With every Preseason comes the various position battles between teammates on both side sides of the ball, with the Dallas Cowboys having a fair amount of their own to sort out before the regular season begins in September.

    Here are some interesting position battles to keep an eye on in Dallas as the next three Preseason games play out.


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    It's not the most glamorous position battle you'll hear about around the NFL, but the fight to be the top kicker in Dallas between David Buehler and rookie Dan Bailey is one of the closest in Cowboys camp.

    The 'Boys coaching staff has always loved the fact that Buehler has scary leg strength, but the issue with the former USC Trojan has always been his accuracy. Despite converting 12-17 kicks of 40 yards or more, Buehler missed two extra-point attempts and two costly field goals against the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants during the 2010 season.

    Bailey, on the other hand, is coming off a senior season at Oklahoma State where he won the 2010 Groza Award as the nation's top collegiate kicker.

    Bailey has been impressing in camp so far, leaving head coach Jason Garrett with a tough decision to make if he elects to only reserve one roster spot for his place kicker. As of now, Garrett is still evaluating both players, telling DallasCowboys.com writer Josh Ellis:

    "Each of them has done a nice job—each of them has also been inconsistent at times. So we'll continue to evaluate them."

Kick Returner

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    Though the new NFL kick off rule change seems to have lessened the impact of kick returners, the Cowboys still need to feel confident that whomever they send down to receive kicks can provide some quality field position for the offense.

    Bryan McCann and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah appear to be the two dueling it out for this job, with both handling their fair share of kicks last season.

    This position battle will most likely go down to the final days before the regular season begins and could easily continue past that point, but, if I were to guess, I'd put money on McCann getting the majority of the returns. I think this simply because Owusu-Ansah might be called upon more often at the free safety position, considering he's the only other free safety on the roster besides starter Gerald Sensabaugh.

Right Defensive End

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    Igor Olshansky was brought over from San Diego during the Wade Phillips coaching era and hasn't exactly been reliable during his tenure in Dallas.

    Despite starting in all but one game in 2010, Olshansky failed to record a sack all season. Jason Hatcher, whose been impressing new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, had two sacks for 11 yards despite playing in just eight games last year.

    Hatcher was making his case to dethrone Olshansky of his starting position with his performance against the Denver Broncos this past Thursday night.

    Ryan has explained that nothing is decided regarding the right defensive end position and regarded Hatcher as the "Player of the day" in the match-up against Denver.

Slot Receiver

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    With Roy Williams no longer suiting up for the Cowboys, Miles Austin and Dez Bryant have taken over as the top two receivers on Dallas' roster. However, due to this fact, the slot receiver position has been left for Kevin Ogletree to win or lose.

    Entering his third NFL season, Ogletree finds himself in a battle for the third receiver position with this year's sixth-round draft pick Dwayne Harris, undrafted wide-out Raymond Radway, and 2010 practice squad members Manuel Johnson and Jesse Holley.

    While the coaches have been impressed by some of the aforementioned young receivers in camp, this job is essentially Ogletree's to lose.

    The former Virginia Cavalier has shown flashes of brilliance during his two NFL seasons, most recently his three receptions for 34 yards performance in week 14 against the Philadelphia Eagles last season.

Second-String Running Back

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    Heading into this off-season there were rumors that the 'Boys would look to cut ties with Marion Barber, conceivably opening up a chance for Tashard Choice to be the second-string running back.

    Many fans thought heading into this season that Felix Jones would take over as the feature back if Barber left, and that would mean Choice would spell the former Arkansas Razorback when needed.

    This off-season has been nothing short of disastrous for Choice, however, with the Cowboys drafting DeMarco Murray in the third-round of the draft and Lonyae Miller becoming the darling of training camp.

    Choice has been out with a calf injury and has been unable to practice and regain some stock with his coaches, but, depending on if Miller and Murray outperform Choice when he's able to practice and play, there's a chance the former Georgia Tech rusher is cut by his current team.