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Final Thoughts: Handling The TE & DE Rotation


FRISCO, Texas – It feels strange to wait so long to post these, but that's what happens when you're the last game of the week.

It feels like we've been waiting forever to finally see this team coming out of the bye week, so there'll be no shortage of anticipation when the Cowboys finally kick this Monday night game off against the Titans.

While we get set for game time, here is my usual final notebook of the week. Here are some things I'm looking for in this matchup, as the Cowboys try to climb back to .500 on the year.

· There were questions about Zack Martin's availability this week with a knee sprain. Those concerns were put to rest when Martin was able to make it through practices with a heavy brace and some old fashioned toughness. In case you were wondering, Adam Redmond would be the backup if there were a need.

· In preparation for this game, I can't begin to tell you how many personnel guys have come up and told me what a difference Amari Cooper has made on the field already. They say that he practices at a different level and are excited to see him in a game. Scott Linehan told the media this week that there was no easing him in, and you should believe him. Cooper has been a fast learner and he will be an extensive part of the game plan.

·  I expect to see Tyrone Crawford and Taco Charlton both get work at right defensive end in this matchup. Crawford has been the starter at tackle, but with Randy Gregory being sidelined with his knee scope, Crawford will fill in there at end and likely start the game with Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins playing inside.

· With Geoff Swain listed as doubtful for the game this week, that opens up another opportunity for Dalton Schultz. I had a feeling before the Washington game that the coaches were interested in getting him more involved in the games after being inactive for several weeks. I expect to see Schultz as a primary player in "11" personnel situations and with Rico Gathers when they get in "12" personnel.  

· Opponents have attacked the Titans' secondary with remarkable success when it comes to throwing the deep ball -- and it hasn't come against just one player. Malcolm Butler and Adoree' Jackson have had their issues defending receivers in those one-on-one situations, especially early in games. Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup will get some opportunities here – count on it.

· Looking ahead, there will be some opponents that will challenge this Cowboys defense when it comes to defending the pass. The Titans are not one of them. Their offense is completely void of the big play. As a unit they're ranked dead last in the league when it comes plays of 20-plus yards. Coming into this matchup, the Titans have only had 11 plays covering that distance while the league average is 26. The Cowboys defensively have done a nice job of holding opponents in check when it comes to big plays and I expect that trend to continue.

· Keep an eye on this during the game when the Cowboys travel into the red zone. The Titans are one of the best in the league when it comes to not allowing their opponent to convert on third down. Opponents have only been successful 18 percent of the time in those situations. It's those four-point stops have also allowed them to be one of the top scoring defenses, as well.

· My weekly guess at the Cowboys inactives: QB Mike White, WR Tavon Austin, LB Joe Thomas, OG Xavier Su'A-Filo, TE Geoff Swaim, DT David Irving, DE Randy Gregory.