CANTON, Ohio -- It feels like a very long time ago I was walking out of the Superdome in a Ravens-induced haze. Six months and one day later, football began anew in Ohio Sunday night.
The Hall of Fame Game is the anti-Super Bowl: Quaint and sleepy. It's a bite-sized appetizer for a starving populace. The atmosphere before the game is pure football, reminiscent of a massive high school matchup. The game never lives up to the excitement, but we can draw a few takeaways from the Dallas Cowboys' 24-20 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday night.
- Miami's left tackle concerns only grew during the game. Starting left tackle Jonathan Martin, who has struggled throughout camp, gave up pressure during his brief stint on the field. It was impossible to evaluate Ryan Tannehill because pressure came so quickly. (Perhaps he was too distracted by his No. 1 ranking in our "Making the Leap" series.)
Just after Martin and Tannehill came out of the game in the first quarter, Martin's replacement, Dallas Thomas, whiffed on a block. Backup quarterback Matt Moore promptly was hammered. Thomas proceeded to get dominated all night by Cowboys backup George Selvie. Thomas is a guard trying to play tackle. This is a story to keep an eye on.
- The Cowboys' defense often was out of position. This isn't a surprise; it was their first game under new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
- Dallas' no-name running back depth had a great night. Cowboys third-string running back Phillip Tanner, who has looked good in the preseason before, was sensational breaking tackles on the way to 59 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. The Cowboys like his downhill running. No. 2 running back Lance Dunbar also looked good early in spot duty. Rookie Joseph Randle, drafted in the fifth round, is fourth on the depth chart and also played well in the second half.
This remains an open competition, and an important one considering DeMarco Murray's history. They should all make the team.