The excitement that goes along with a professional football team leaving camp for their first preseason game is always tempered by the knowledge that none of it really counts. Veterans will assuredly play less than a half, leaving the lion's share of snaps to young guys--many of which few people have heard of--looking to make a name for themselves.
Bradie James, the captain of Dallas' defense and leading tackler now for four straight years, discussed this first game after practice on Tuesday, speaking of the moderate but very real, very present level of excitement around the team.
"It's good to see what we've been practicing and put it out there on the field," James said. "Really, defensively, we want to work on a little tackling, but just to play against another team, we want to at least see where we are. Just practicing against each other, not taking guys down, that's one thing. When you go against another team, you got to take them down, but you definitely want to get away from the game healthy. Looking forward to it. "
More than in the past few years, these preseason games will be at least moderately interesting, if for no other reason than the significant change in both personnel and approach undergone by Dallas since the week 17 loss at Philadelphia. And, like any team locked into training camp for two weeks and change, the opportunity to hit someone other than a teammate is looked upon by these Cowboys, James in particular, as a golden one.
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"I give it to Barber sometimes, but I can't give it to him [all the time]," James continued. "I mean, it's still preseason, so I'm not trying to go out there and just eliminate anybody but we just want to go out there and tackle somebody else, and I'm sure Romo wants to see what he can do against another defense, so it's a catch 22."
"Everybody's looking forward to it. "