Did I say meaningless?
Sure, the outcome may be unimportant, but for many of the players, the game will be far from meaningless.
For rookies and other first-year Chargers, the Dallas game will be an opportunity to prove to the coaching staff why they deserve a place on the roster.
For the veterans, it’s an opportunity to work out the kinks and develop some synergy with their first-team counterparts before the start of the regular season.
For the second team, it’s an opportunity to move up the depth chart or establish a place on special teams.
For Norv Turner himself, it's an opportunity to hone his game-day coaching abilities and win a game on the road, down the stretch without the luxury of his first-team squad.
So, lets get to it and review what to watch for in the upcoming Dallas game.
The Chargers have been notorious for slow starts under Turner, and it’s crucial that they turn that around and jump off to a fast start this year.
Look for the starters to score on their first possession. They did this against Seattle last week, and I expect more of the same versus the Cowboys.
Jumping out to an early lead puts the opposition under fire immediately and gives a confidence boost to the whole team. If the Chargers' starters can take the lead before they are pulled, it will bode well for their chances to get off to a fast start come the regular season.
Not to mention that it's exciting and fun to watch the machine that is Philip Rivers and the San Diego offense put points on the board.
San Diego’s offensive line is decent but dangerously thin. Should any of the starters go down with injury, it will be up to tackle Brandyn Dombrowski and guard Tyronne Green to step in and make a difference.
Look for these two third-year pros to get in as much work in the preseason as possible. Dombrowski has made 13 starts and appeared in 32 games over the past two seasons while Green has made just seven starts in 13 appearances over the same period.
These two are the future of the Chargers' offensive line and will be called upon to perform with the first team at some point over the course of the season. Their progress is critical.
Watch for them to gain valuable experience against a decent Cowboys front line and, hopefully, put on a good show.
Perhaps the biggest weakness the Chargers had to fix on defense from last year was at the defensive end position. That duty has been assigned to rookie Corey Liuget. His ability to pass rush and his nose for the ball were on display in his first professional game last Thursday against the Seahawks.
If San Diego’s No. 1 draft pick hasn’t had enough pressure put on him already, let me add a bit more.
It is imperative that his form continues against what should be considered a better squad in Dallas. Whether he is getting to the quarterback himself or drawing double teams to allow the linebackers to rush in, the Chargers’ pass rush is so dependant on Liuget, that if he should falter, so shall the pass defense.
Look for him to continue in his development by getting a sack or two against the Cowboys or some tackles for a loss. These types of plays will define Liuget's progress towards the monster of a defensive end we all hope he will become.
While Tolbert has been a beast on the practice field from Day 1, Mathews reported out of shape and nursing an injury. Recent sessions have seen Mathews put in improved workouts but neither performed well enough against Seattle.
Tolbert carried twice for minus-three yards and Mathews also carried twice and gained only five yards. In the Dallas game, I expect to see each of them handed the ball a bit more and I hope to see some real gains. Hopefully, the offensive line will create some running room and the Chargers' fullbacks will be able to get a block or two on a Dallas linebacker.
It can’t be over-emphasized how important a decent running game will be this year for the Bolts. It doesn’t have to be top 10, but it does need to be reliable enough to keep defenses guessing and take some of the pressure off of Rivers and the passing game.
The special teams play under new coach Rich Bisaccia needs to pick up where they left off against Seattle.
By now, everyone is aware of how much special teams play cost the Chargers several games last season. That simply cannot be the case this year.
The Chargers’ special teams play was acceptable in their first display. Now that trend needs to continue in Dallas.
A lot of special teams play is based on mental focus, emotion and confidence. The Chargers have started well and can build from any preseason success they have.
Look for Chargers punts to be free and clear of any Dallas pressure. Watch for coverage plays to keep the Cowboys pinned in their own end or at least limit returns to a minimum.
Look to see if Bryan Walters (who had a 103-yard return for a touchdown last week) or anyone else can solidify their position as a return man for the Bolts.
Many players will only make to roster as special teams players, so look for someone to make a big splash here.