All summer long the Cowboys have responded to panicked cries from the gallery by doing their best Winston Churchill impersonation. Their upper lips have been stiff as they've stuck to the script of keeping calm and carrying on while the bombs fall around them.
That's why they couldn't have made any decision about playing their starters on Thursday other than the one they wound up making. Throwing Tony Romo and other key members of the squad out there and exposing them to the risk of injury only makes sense if you think that they aren't ready to play come Week One. You've already said time and again that you do feel everything is just fine with the team, and going back on that would be an awfully bad message to send this close to go time.
The risks of such a mixed message were much greater for Churchill, of course, but it's not like it does anybody with the Cowboys any good to fan the flames of doomsayers. Staying on message is the right way to go, especially since there are ancillary benefits to keeping the starters out of the line of fire.
You need to figure out who is going to wind up claiming the last seven or eight spots on the roster, not to mention the best prospects to add to the practice squad. There's already a good chance that you know who those guys are but some of the tough calls are definitely still up in the air.
Do you keep Stephen McGee or an extra defensive back? Is Barry Church a better option for the active roster than Danny McCray? Are Sam Hurd and Kevin Ogletree capable of actually helping the offense or are they strictly special teams contributors? Smaller questions, perhaps, but ones that will wind up having more to do with how the Cowboys fare this season than nine plays for Romo or a series on defense for Keith Brooking.
The preseason is for readying the knowns and finding out about the unknowns. The Cowboys have already done the former, Thursday is time to take care of the latter.
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