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NFL: Dallas Cowboys – Miami Dolphins Highlights. Bryan Bulaga Tears ACL

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Aug 4, 2013; Canton, OH, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Jonas Gray (32) against the Dallas Cowboys during the third quarter at Fawcett Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

The return of NFL football is officially here when the annual Hall-of-Fame game kicks-off every year. While it is just the preseason, it’s still the first live football between to two NFL teams to be played since the previous Super Bowl, and this year’s HOF game featured the Miami Dolphins and the Dallas Cowboys at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio.

Both teams got off to sloppy starts as you could imagine, and it was ultimately the Cowboys who were able to hold on to a 24-20 victory.

All of the talk surrounding the Dallas Cowboys backfield this offseason has been about DeMarco Murray, and whether or not the talented back could remain healthy enough to carry the load for the Dallas offense this season.

Murray’s health is vital to a better Cowboys running game, because the next three guys on the depth chart have just 43 combined career NFL carries. But with Murray out due ti an injury, Lance Dunbar, as second-year back, was given the starting nod, and in just one drive, he accounted for four rushes for 22 yards, and chipped in a catch for seven yards. He was taken out after the first offensive series, but looked every bit like an NFL-caliber back.

The Cowboys also got a stellar performance from fourth-string running back Phillip Tanner, as he racked up 59 yards on 10 carries, and could very well be a viable option for Dallas if any of the three guys ahead of Tanner go down with an injury. Perhaps they’ll use one of the four backs as trade bait as the preseason rolls on.

Starting left tackle is a major issue for the Miami Dolphins after the team allowed Jake Long to depart via free agency his offseason, and his replacement(s) certainly don’t appear ready to step into his role. Jonathan Martin and Dallas Thomas each spent time at LT, and neither could perform adequately and consistently block whoever was fortunate enough to be rushing against them. This will continue to be a big question mark for a Dolphins team expected to contend for a postseason berth.

Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas is expected to at least be the teams’ #2 RB, and perhaps challenge Lamar Miller for the starting role. Nothing he did tonight suggested he’s even ready to be a competent backup, as he rushed four times for just five yards and caught a one-yard pass. He was vastly outplayed by Jonas Gray and Gilleslie, and could see his roster spot in jeopardy if this keeps up.

And watch out for Dolphins backup RB Jonas Gray, who rushed seven times for a team-high 41 yards and caught four balls for 35 yards, and looked like the most consistent back Miami had, though it was against third and fourth-string players. He’ll be an interesting player to watch during training camp with a so many unproven players in the Dolphins backfield right now.