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Five takeaways from Cowboys-Broncos preseason game

Tim Tebow stole all the headlines in Thursday night's Cowboys-Broncos game. But there were plenty more things learned during Dallas' 24-23 win. Here are five of them:

1. The Cowboys line bears watching, and its growth could determine where this season goes for Dallas.Jason Garrett wants to be more physical, and it'll start there. He started two rookies and a second-year undrafted free agent, and they weren't awful. Starting tailback Felix Jones was sprung for 22 yards on three carries on the first drive, and Dallas went 56 yards before settling for a field goal on that one. First-round pick Tyron Smith stayed in at right tackle long after some other starters departed, and was fine, outside of what appeared to be a mental mistake on a Broncos blitz.

2. Looking at the Broncos, you can see the fingerprints of what John Fox's Panthers were in their heyday. First drive, Denver churned out runs of 4, 6, 5, 12, 7 and 6 yards. The last five of those runs were consecutive, the first four between the tackles. For one reason or another, the Broncos got pass-happy on first-and-goal, and the drive stalled. But you can see the emphasis. Also, it was pointed out to me that Knowshon Moreno sprinted onto the field prior to the game, something he used to do at Georgia, but hasn't done as much as a pro. The point was made in explaining how the third-year back seemed to have a "spark" last night.

3. The preseason is a time for backup quarterbacks to make themselves marketable. The two guys playing the second half certainly did that. Quinn was 8 of 14 for 120 yards and a touchdown, and seemed to be in command of Mike McCoy's offense, going deep into his reads and doing a nice job of distributing the ball. Cowboys third-stringer Stephen McGee might have turned in the best effort of any of the six quarterbacks who played, completing 14 of 24 passes for 208 yards, three touchdowns and a pick. The former fourth-round pick made a spectacular play on a fourth-and-goal from the 13, finding Dwayne Harris to pull the Cowboys to within a point, and then won the game on a scramble play, hitting tight end Martin Rucker on the run for the game-winning two-pointer. At worst, McGee seems ready to be a capable No. 2, though in Dallas he's still behind Jon Kitna.

4. Whither Martellus? The Cowboys spent a second-round pick on Martellus Bennett in 2009. He didn't play against the Broncos, and might be in danger of dropping to third on the depth chart. Second-year pro John Phillips, coming off a torn ACL, was very solid (four catches, 25 yards) all the way around, and at this point might be a better option to complement Jason Witten at the position.

5. Rob Ryan has some work to do with that defense. On the first snap, he somehow got DeMarcus Ware a free run at the quarterback, but the aforementioned Broncos success tackle-to-tackle was ugly for Dallas. To be fair, they didn't have Pro Bowler Jay Ratliff in there. But Ryan has traditionally worked with bigger players at those interior positions, so it'll be interesting to see how much he works to adjust to Dallas' smaller, quicker personnel (which fit Wade Phillips' system better) along the defensive line. Based on his track record, you have to think he'll figure it out.

Follow Albert Breer on Twitter @AlbertBreer

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