After two days of joint practices, the Chargers and Cowboys are scheduled to face off this Saturday in the second preseason game of the year.
Dallas has yet to indicate whether or not they plan to play their starters at all this week. For this, I assume that most of their starters will be sitting out.
With that in mind, here are a few matchups to watch in the game:
Chargers CB Michael Davis vs. Cowboys WR Jalen Tolbert
Davis has looked like a completely different player in the last week after splitting reps with Asante Samuel Jr. last weekend. While CeeDee Lamb is almost certainly not going to play, and Michael Gallup is continuing to rehab from his ACL tear, a matchup with the rookie Tolbert is still an important one to watch as the de facto WR1 vs. CB1 battle. Tolbert looked like a rookie in Dallas’ first game, but Michael Gehlken of the Dallas News reported that he looked “back on track” against the Chargers in practice. Limiting Tolbert’s impact could further strengthen Davis’ case that he should retain his starting role from last season.
Chargers WRs Michael Bandy/Joe Reed vs. Cowboys CBs Kelvin Joseph/Nahshon Wright
Bandy and Reed looked like much-improved players last week, and I think they’ll get in the game early enough to match up with Joseph and Wright, both of whom will probably start on Saturday as Trevon Diggs and Anthony Brown rest. Both corners are still on the rise as second-year players who saw action as rookies and should be roster locks, although there have been rumors that Joseph’s spot on the team is not secured. If Bandy and/or Reed can show the same flashes they did last week against these NFL-level corners, it could be the difference in the battle for the final spot.
Chargers C Will Clapp vs. Cowboys DT Neville Gallimore
Initially, I had this down as rookie Zion Johnson vs. Gallimore, but I’m unsure if Johnson will play or if his preseason will look like Rashawn Slater’s did last season. Gallimore has yet to break out since being drafted in the third round in 2020, as a preseason elbow injury knocked him out for most of last season. However, the third-year player has received rave reviews in Cowboys camp this season, suggesting that a full-time starting role may be in the cards. Clapp, meanwhile, struggled last week against the Rams. A strong performance against the likes of Gallimore could get him back in the team’s good graces.
Chargers EDGE Chris Rumph II vs. Cowboys OT Terence Steele
Rumph had the team’s best performance against the Rams, with a dominant day, including a sack of QB Bryce Perkins. With Dallas likely to start Steele, their presumptive starter at right tackle, the second-year pass rusher will have his first chance to line up against starter-level talent. Another solid showing and Rumph cements himself as a dangerous rotational pass rusher that teams will have to account for when Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack come off the field.
Chargers TEs Tre’ McKitty/Hunter Kampmoyer vs. Cowboys S Markquese Bell
Bell, an undrafted free agent, has been one of the standouts in Cowboys camp this season, leading many to believe he has an inside track to a roster spot. Versatility is a huge part of his game – Dallas reportedly views him as another version of Jayron Kearse as a player capable of playing in the box or matching up with slot receivers and tight ends. It’s an excellent opportunity for McKitty to show growth in the receiving game, where he’s been essentially a nonfactor thus far. It’s also a big chance for Kampmoyer to stand out and prove the Chargers need to keep four tight ends on the 53-man roster again.