Back in 2003, the first season Bill Parcells was here as head coach, it seemed pretty obvious what would happen at most positions heading into the final preseason game.
Especially at wide receiver, it was a foregone conclusion who would be sticking around. And Reggie Swinton, a journeyman return specialist the past two years on awful 5-11 teams, was on the outside looking in.
Yet, with one change of direction, he changed his immediate future. Swinton took a kickoff, decided to cut towards the sideline away from the blockers and then took off down the field for a 96-yard touchdown against the Raiders.
It was the third quarter of a blowout game, yet that one single play helped Swinton stay on the team. He was released a few weeks later in the season but it goes to show that every play counts.
All that to say this … Lance Dunbar needs to be on the team.
Now Dunbar had done a few nice things in the offseason that had him on the radar heading into camp. It wouldn't have been a big surprise back in July if he made the team. But when he missed two preseason games with a hamstring injury, it was an obvious setback.
But Dunbar made a Swinton-like play Wednesday night with his 58-yard touchdown run against the Dolphins where he cut through the hole, spun out of tacklers, broke away into the clear and then made a nice cut in the open field to score.
That is the type of play that gets you noticed, and I'm sure the rest of the league is watching too. Dunbar might be rather small in stature at 5-8, 191, but there are plenty of teams that would covet a player who can make a play like that. The Cowboys should be one of them.
I'm not saying keep him over Phillip Tanner or Felix Jones. Sometimes though, a player has done enough to make the team, regardless of the numbers at each position.
The Cowboys kept seven receivers in 2006 because they thought Sam Hurd could help on special teams and Jamaica Rector was a punt returner. But they just couldn't cut Miles Austin and obviously they're glad they didn't.
Last year, Tanner did enough to stick around but the Cowboys still wanted to keep Jones, Murray and Tashard Choice, who was eventually cut. Still, keeping four tailbacks was an option because Tanner had done enough.
While Dunbar's sample size has been smaller, you have to factor in the upside. Here's a guy who explosive speed and can break tackles. If he can do anything on special teams, either as a returner or possibly to cover kicks, it'd definitely be worth it.
Not sure how the whole roster shakes out, but I'd make sure Dunbar is included.