IRVING, Texas – Boy, isn’t it a good thing the Dallas Cowboys didn’t dabble in reckless fantasy football roster machinations before this season began?
Remember? Remember all the suggestions?
Oh, and let’s go one more. How many of you wanted
Scary the bind the Cowboys could be in had the team’s coaching staff and front office resorted to these kneejerk reactions, as if there would be something wrong with having a little depth on this roster littered with 23 guys in no more than their third NFL season. And because they didn’t, check this out:
Jones is preparing to start his fifth consecutive game of the season since Murray’s foot sprain, which nearly needed surgery, is still keeping him out of practice. And not only is he doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns, but with only one semi-tough practice available during the short week prior to the Thanksgiving tradition, he’s possibly out for the Washington game four days later, too.
Spears will start at his old left defensive end position Sunday against the Browns since Coleman has been placed on injured reserve following surgery to repair the torn triceps muscle he suffered in the win over Philadelphia. Crawford will be the next guy up there, since Lissemore still isn’t practicing thanks to the high ankle sprain he suffered against Baltimore a month ago. And the guy they kept on the practice squad, rookie free-agent
Then there is Jenkins. You know what? Wouldn’t it have been nice this past Sunday in Philadelphia, with Claiborne suffering from rookie-itis, becoming grabby and of all things for a corner, jumping off sides, if the Cowboys could have turned to the veteran cornerback to give the kid a series or two to collect himself? But no, Jenkins’ back was still weak, having suffered spasms, leaving him a game-day inactive. And the way things are going this week – he still hasn’t practiced – he’s likely inactive again.
Looking at my defensive stats here in front of me, Spencer, the guy everyone wailed over after the Cowboys franchised him at $8.8 million to reserve his rights, is fourth on the team in tackles, his 53 behind only
The lesson, loud and clear?
In football – and remember this isn’t basketball or baseball, it’s football – there is nothing wrong with having a couple of good guys at the same position since there usually is enough plays to go around. And, as you’ve been reminded when watching the Cowboys this season, people do get hurt. A lot.
“I mean all that is foresight from the Joneses, their communication,” Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. “People say whatever they say, they run the team, sure, but they are also smart. It’s unbelievable.
“We kept depth on the roster, we kept the right guys, we kept the best players for this very reason. Sometimes you want to keep a young kid, he’s got promise, but you let a big-time veteran go. Well, that’s not the right thing to do. We did the right things. We kept these guys around and it’s helped us.”
Inject the word “immensely.”
With seven games remaining, the next two in a five-day span, the Cowboys already have three season-opening defensive starters on injured reserve (
And how about this? Nine games into the season, 11 defensive players have missed a total of 37 games, and that total will skyrocket since Lee, Church and Coleman definitely will miss seven more each. That’s 58, and it doesn’t appear at this point that Lissemore is ready to return and who knows about Jenkins? Rookie
On offense, three guys, Murray,
And by the way, let’s not forget punter
Catching my drift?
The Cowboys are ridiculously testing this next guy up notion, but hey, what you going to do? And guarantee you they aren’t the Lone Rangers when it comes to injuries in the National Football League. They are rampant, and why you never, ever should consider depleting a position of strength … if … you happen to be lucky enough to have a couple three at the same spot and can afford them with the salary cap.
“We have been recycling guys all year,” Spears said the other day, realizing
But so far defensively, the Cowboys have been duck-taping these positions with multiple solutions. Take safety.
At linebacker, without Lee and then immediately Connor, they sign Lemon from the practice squad and
“To lose Lee was a big blow,” Spears said, “but we have the guys to get it done.”
At defensive end, they now return Spears to his starting spot, play Crawford more and sign Bass off the practice squad, a guy another team came calling for a few weeks back.
At running back, the Cowboys simply insert Jones, but with him trying to play through a bum knee and shoulder, they lean on Tanner and sign Dunbar off the practice squad and get the rookie ready for snaps.
At center, the team first for Cook when Costa was injured – the first time – when it became obvious
And at corner, with Jenkins missing last week, they sign
This is exhausting, isn’t it? And still there are seven games to go?
Fortunately for the Cowboys, they have a few good men with quality heads on their shoulders.
“My mindset from the beginning is you need to know all three positions,” said
And then there is Spears, who could have pouted after Ryan brought Coleman with him to Dallas, immediately bumping Spears off the position where he started in his first six seasons with the Cowboys into a backup role. Didn’t happen.
“You have personal feelings, you get angry not being in there, but if you’ve been around long enough you know you’re going to get your chance to play,” Spears said, and best of all, he’s not being vindictive toward this opportunity. “Not trying to beat my chest and prove I should have been playing. I just want to help this team win.”
That’s some right stuff there, all of it, including every one of those insightful decisions made nearly 12 weeks ago to preserve the depth now available for this current excavation project from that 3-5 hole.