Gameday for the Dallas Cowboys is finally upon us. All those questions, all those unknowns will begin to reveal themselves when the 2018 season kicks off at 3:25 p.m Sunday against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
Perhaps we won’t have definitive answers on the Cowboys’ most pressing issues. Remember how long ago these season openers feel when you’re watching a game in December? Like ancient history. Still, a few basic questions should get addressed against the Panthers which could leaving Cowboys fans feeling relieved or feeling dread. Maybe we’ll only have more questions about what exactly we can expect from the 2018 Dallas Cowboys.
Here are five things to watch when the Cowboys and Panthers get going on Sunday afternoon:
1. Containing Cam
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To stop the Panthers you have to slow down quarterback Cam Newton. Newton’s ability to run and shed tackles was the focus of much of the Cowboys’ defense all week. The gameplan couldn’t be any simpler: keep Newton contained within the pocket with consistent pressure on the ends from DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford. Behind them, Randy Gregory and Taco Charlton should both get plenty of chances to leave their mark on the game. Of course, stopping Newton isn’t only on the defensive line. Linebackers Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith and the banged up secondary can help the line with solid coverage.
2. Zeke’s chip
It’s almost as if this is Ezekiel Elliott’s rookie season. Although he nearly rushed for 1,000 yards in his sophomore season, his absence from six games because of an NFL suspension left a sour taste with just about everybody involved, most noteably Elliott. He has kept a low profile during training camp, earned nothing but high praise from his teammates, coaches and the front office with his work ethic and dedication to his preparation. Elliott also didn’t mince words when he spoke to the media one last time before Sunday’s opener. He has something, perhaps everything, to prove and that should bode well for Dallas.