IRVING, Texas – On Monday, Jason Garrett came out and emphatically told us that the emphasis to win these final two games is no different than the first 14 they've played.
Regardless of being eliminated from the playoffs and/or the possibility of acquiring a higher draft pick, it does sound like Garrett and his staff will try its best to finish the season at 6-10.
And personally, I agree with that approach. You can make a case for a higher draft pick, but at this point, you're going to get a good pick either way. I'd rather see them keep fighting, try to win and try to build off that success moving forward.
Now, all that being said, I think there's still a way to sprinkle in some younger players here down the stretch. It doesn't mean they have to start or a veteran, but seeing what these players have could help make some personnel decisions in the next few months.
Here are a handful of rookies that I think the Cowboys should make an emphasis to see in the final two games:
Geoff Swaim – This one is easy to do now that Gavin Escobar is out with a torn Achilles. Had Escobar not suffered the injury, it's unlikely Swaim gets a chance. Taking four tight ends to a game isn't easy, and the three ahead of him weren't going to sit. But now, here's a free look at a guy who is supposedly a complete tight end. He's played before for Hanna, but now we'll get to see him play for Escobar and that could open some things up for him as a pass-catcher. The Cowboys have some interesting decisions to make at tight end next year with Hanna being a free agent, Escobar likely being out until September and regardless of what we think about Witten, he does turn 34 in May. If they can get a decent evaluation out of Swaim, it might just allow them to pinpoint where and when to address the position in free agency and/or the draft.
Mark Nzeocha – This guy hasn't played any football since last fall in college. Coming off a knee injury, you really don't even know what type of player he'll be, since he doesn't even have preseason games under his belt. Even if he plays strictly on special teams, the Cowboys can get an idea what kind of awareness he brings to the table, not to mention his speed, tackling and all that. Getting him to the games might be tricky, especially if Rolando McClain is active, but if that means sitting Damien Wilson for a game, just to get Nzeocha on the field, I think it's worth it. Some might argue that Wilson should be on this list, but I think the Cowboys have a good idea what type of player he is, and I don't foresee him getting a start. So if it's just about being a backup/special teams player, I think they need to see Nzeocha over Wilson.
Lucky Whitehead – Yes, I realize this guy already plays and has started to get an increased role both on offense and special teams. But they need to start expanding his game more vertically. In fact, everything Whitehead does offensively seems to start behind the line of scrimmage. Whether it's a reverse or bubble screens, they need to get his speed down the field. I said the other day that he can be a Tavon Austin type of player, but at some point, that speed has to stretch the defense North/South. In these next two games, the Cowboys should run more routes with him down the field. Deep balls are nice, but even the deep-ins, crossing routes could show just what type of player he can be. I think he's dynamic and needs more touches, but if he never goes down the field, the reverses and sweeps won't be that effective.
Chaz Green – He might not be ready to start at right tackle, and if that's the case, he shouldn't just be out there over Doug Free. Where he might be able to contribute now, though, is at the swing tackle spot, perhaps in place of Charles Brown. They'll use that short-yardage package where Brown comes in to provide an unbalanced line. I think Green could start off there and at least get himself in the mindset to play. This team could have a decision to make with Free in the offseason, so any kind of film they can create for Green could be beneficial.
Jameill Showers – He's currently on the practice squad, but he'd be a guy I would call up to the roster. That doesn't mean he would play in the game because obviously this team is trying to evaluate Kellen Moore as a potential backup player. But for all of the things Showers has done this year on the practice squad, running scout-team quarterback, playing safety, playing special teams, I would make sure he gets called up to protect his rights. At the end of the year, teams can steal your practice squad guys if they're out there, so I would sign Showers and maybe even activate him as a third quarterback/special teams player. He's another guy that needs some work. Perhaps he could be the No. 2 quarterback in the final game of the season.