Wade Phillips announced Tuesday that most of the Cowboys' starters will not play Thursday in the final exhibition game. Tony Romo will be sitting on the sideline watching Stephen McGee start in his place against the Dolphins.
"McGee will play a lot of the game," Phillips said. "He will start the game and probably play most of the game. That’s the way we expect to do it."
It's a big game for the Cowboys' third-string quarterback. McGee has completed 26 of 45 passes for 220 yards with no interceptions. He is averaging 4.9 yards per attempt, has taken six sacks, has a passer rating of 70.6 and has no touchdowns.
The Cowboys could decide to keep only two quarterbacks -- Romo and Jon Kitna -- though it's not likely they would give up on a fourth-round draft pick after only one season and two preseasons. Still, McGee could make the Cowboys' decision easy with a good showing.
"I think it’s really important," Phillips said. "He’s made a step forward. We’ve seen it in the last couple of games. We saw it as the training camp went on. I think he hit 8 out of 10 in the last ball game. He seems to be more and more comfortable in this pro-type offense. We all know it takes quarterbacks a while. But we want to give him this opportunity to go out there and do what he can do to prepare and get ready."
Only a handful of starters will play, though Phillips wouldn't name which ones.
"Different things determine it," Phillips said. "Some of it is in numbers, how many people we have to play. We still have players who are out, and we cut down to 75."
Phillips had wrestled with the decision about whether to play his first-team units. He seemed to be leaning toward it immediately after the 23-7 loss to the Texans on Saturday night, but he said Monday he was reconsidering. Tuesday, he announced his decision to sit most of his starters, which has been the Cowboys' philosophy in recent seasons. The first team has not played the final preseason game since 2006.
"Ultimately our overall feeling about our team, how they’ve worked and what they’re doing," Phillips said of the determining factor to sit most of his starters. "Some of it was how the guys played. Some of them played well in the ball game. Some of them didn’t. We’ve got a lot of work to do no matter what. We know that. It’ll be a tough game on the road, first game against a new regime there that’s going to be really fired up. They’re always looking forward to playing us, the Redskins. It’s a big rivalry. We know all that. But we’ve got to get ourselves ready."
-- Charean Williams