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Final Thoughts: Opportunities For Young Players With An Eye On 2018

*FRISCO, Texas – *One last time in 2017, it’s time to sit down and figure out how the Cowboys will approach their upcoming matchup.

Yes, we’ve established that this game doesn’t count in the standings. The Cowboys’ season will be over on Sunday evening, regardless of the result. But the intent is still to end the season on a high note, and so it’ll be interesting to see how they handle this game.

Here’s one last look at what I’ve got my eye on – from injuries to roster moves and everything in between. This will be an interesting last look at this roster as we get ready for 2018.

So, here we go:

  • Mickey Spagnola made a great point on Talkin’ Cowboys about Cooper Rush coming off the bench in relief for Dak Prescott. Spagnola offered the opinion that this might be Jason Garrett’s way of testing how well Rush prepares for the game without getting any snaps in practice. At some point we might see Garrett go to Rush and tell him he’s now in the game to see how he handles it.
  • I knew there was something not right about Dez Bryant. His knee was a problem, but Bryant fought through it knowing that he couldn’t miss games -- especially with Ezekiel Elliott out of the lineup. He tried to be there for his teammates, which you have to respect him for. Bryant and Garrett have had discussions already about his issues with his health and on the field. I expect the next person that Bryant has a conversation with is Jerry Jones. I know for a fact that Bryant has a great deal of respect and trust for Jones to have an open dialogue. Going into the offseason, I promise that all parties will have a clear understanding of where the other is coming from.
  • I am not getting a positive vibe on the availability of Cole Beasley in this game. Beasley has been sick all week and has missed practice time, which has allowed Ryan Switzer to get work with the first offense. Other than his work on special teams, it’s been a struggle for Switzer to get on the field. Looking back, my expectations for him were likely too lofty. I thought he would have had a bigger role in this offense considering what I had seen from him at North Carolina but sadly that wasn’t the case at all.  
  • The offensive line for the Cowboys will be the normal starters with the exception of Byron Bell in the lineup for Tyron Smith. If they do make some changes in the game, I would expect Joe Looney to get some work for both Travis Frederick and Zack Martin. Also keep an eye on Chaz Green working at right tackle for La’el Collins. This will be the first time we might see Green since that Atlanta game. This time around, look for help not only for Green but Bell, as well.

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  • Lance Lenoir along with Kadeem Edwards are being called up to the 53-man roster. To make room for those players, the season will end for Tyron Smith and Orlando Scandrick. What is interesting about Lenoir is that all season, he is the one practice squad player that was getting snaps with the first offense during practice -- so don’t be surprised if he gets a shot on the active game day roster against the Eagles. I have heard some very positive reviews of his game -- not just this week but throughout the season.
  • With no Benson Mayowa in the lineup, Taco Charlton should get even more snaps than he has the previous few games. Mayowa plays primarily on the right side as a backup to Tyrone Crawford. Charlton has been on the left side behind DeMarcus Lawrence, but this week the coaches will ask him to rush off both sides. We might even see Crawford kick inside with Charlton rushing next to him. Charlton has done a nice job of improving each week and executing what the coaches are asking him to do.
  • The Cowboys have been outstanding on special teams in all phases this season. Whether it’s been in the return game or covering kicks, this group has been on the top of their game. Something to keep in mind: in two of the last three meetings with Philly, Rich Bisaccia has reached into his bag of tricks to come up with a play to steal a procession. Bisaccia is one of the most creative special teams coordinators in the league and I wouldn’t put it past him to have something ready in this matchup, as well. Timing is big when to pull the play off and Bisaccia has a good feel for that.
  • My weekly guess at the Cowboys Inactives: WR Cole Beasley, RB Rod Smith, LB Tre’Von Johnson, OT Kadeem Edwards, TE Blake Jarwin, DE Benson Mayowa, DT David Irving.
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