IRVING, Texas – Coming out of the bye week, there are plenty of question marks surrounding this team as they prepare for Sunday's showdown with the surging Giants. Football analyst Bryan Broaddus answers three pressing questions, regarding the return of Miles Austin and J.J. Wilcox, and the expectations on rookie linebacker DeVonte Holloman.
1. With the return of Miles Austin, what player will that affect the most? Less Terrance Williams or Cole Beasley? Or maybe just more empty-backfield sets?
Broaddus: I believe that you will see less Terrance Williams. As well as Williams played earlier in the season, we are now seeing some slipping in his play. It's not that Williams has been terrible but Beasley is more consistent when it comes to make those types of plays that keep drives going and with this offense struggling badly on 3rd down, you need a clutch player like Beasley to convert those tough downs. Cole Beasley is too valuable in these types of games to take off the field. With Austin returning to the lineup, it should help all these receivers especially Dez Bryant, who needs someone on the outside to draw coverage away from him.
2. From what we saw of Jeff Heath, will J.J. Wilcox returning to action be a significant upgrade at safety? [embedded_ad]
Broaddus: It was a shame that Jeff Heath had a poor game against the Saints but like I said before, he wasn't the only player on defense that didn't play well. If you asked me to describe a trait of Heath's that would have been his strength, I would have said his tackling but that let him down two weeks ago. It appears that Wilcox will be working his way back into the lineup and I was told during practice on Monday, he received a good bit of work. Where Heath had his issues against the Vikings and Saints, let's not forget that Wilcox has had his share of problems as well, missing tackles on key 3rd down plays against the Redskins and Eagles. Both players are physical and where Heath is better than Wilcox is on the mental side of the game but when you struggle to tackle consistently or you tend to give up plays in the passing game, then the coaches have to make that switch. With Wilcox back in the starting lineup, it will help the defense but it also now allows Heath to return to his role as that core special teamer where he excels.
3. DeVonte Holloman was a surprise contributor as a rookie before his injury. Now he's going to be out there starting. Can he handle this? Broaddus: There is a side of me that believed if DeVonte Holloman would have not got injured in practice several weeks ago, that he would have taken the starting Sam linebacker job away from Justin Durant by now. I honestly mean this as no shot at Durant but there is something to Holloman's game and the way that he carries himself on the field even as a rookie where he could have handled this job. There are certain players in this league that the ball tends to find them on the field. Darren Sharper when he played for the Packers, Vikings, then later the Saints, whether the ball was in the air or laying on the ground, he was right there to grab it. DeVonte Holloman has those similar traits. This game against the Giants will be a huge test for him because of the way they like to run the ball downhill with Andre Brown and Brandon Jacobs. With no Sean Lee in the lineup, Holloman and Bruce Carter are going to have to be studs at the point of attack because if they aren't, this Giants will try and shove the ball down their throats but if they do hold up, this is how you force Eli Manning into mistakes throwing the ball. Several of these Cowboys rookies have stepped up when their teammates have needed them the most, I would not be one bit surprised if DeVonte Holloman plays very well.