FRISCO, Texas – Let's see how this team bounces back.
We've dissected every angle we can from last week's loss, and now it's in the rearview. For a followup, the Cowboys will have to deal with one of this game's most talented quarterbacks on Sunday afternoon.
Here's my final look at this Week 5 matchup between the Cowboys and Packers.
- Give a lot of credit to both Michael Gallup and Associate Athletic Trainer Britt Brown for Gallup coming back as quickly as he has from his knee scope. Gallup will be back in the lineup after only missing two games. It was Brown who once told me that, if a player was willing, then anything was possible in getting him back on the field. From everything I've heard, Gallup was cutting and jumping with no issues. His return falls in perfect timing with a Packers secondary that is dealing with injuries, as well, and might be shorthanded on Sunday.
- I expect to see La'el Collins play this week against the Packers. Collins missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday with a back issue but took part in practice on Friday. In that Wednesday practice, Connor Williams took his place but was back at his normal left guard spot on Thursday, which tells me Collins should be good to go. If Williams had continued to practice at tackle, then maybe there should have been some concern -- but I don't think so now.
- Cam Fleming will start this week in place of Tyron Smith, who was injured in the final minute of the Saints game last week. Fleming has made starts for Smith before and has fared well in those opportunities. What we need to keep an eye on, especially early in this game, is if they give Fleming any help. My gut feeling is that they will see how well things go, and if Fleming is hanging in there against Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith, their focus will shift to other areas. What I do know is that Jason Garrett and the staff will not be too late to react like they did in Atlanta, where Chaz Green was a disaster.
- Look for Tyrone Crawford to be back in the rotation this week. Crawford was feeling well enough to practice Thursday and Friday in order to give it a go against the Packers. Crawford had been the starter at right defensive end, but with the emergence of Robert Quinn at that spot I would expect Crawford to be a part of the rotation at tackle. Antwaun Woods is practicing but is still a week away, so Crawford will be able to jump in there and help out.
- It might be an under the radar concern for this game, but the height of these Packers receivers makes me a little nervous. Both Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison are both over 6'3"and will go get the ball. You may remember from the Miami game where these cornerbacks had to deal with DeVante Parker and his length. It would not surprise me one bit to see Aaron Rodgers throw the ball up to these receivers and test whether Chidobe Awuzie, Byron Jones and Anthony Brown are capable of defending Valdes-Scantling and Allison down the field and in the air.
- Keith O'Quinn might be looking to shake up his special teams lineup, and that's why I believe he's going to put newly activated Ventell Bryant on the game day roster. Bryant was brought up from the practice squad earlier this week after showing the staff his skill as a scout team player. Bryant has the size and speed to line up at several spots, but this is where I think he will play: I see him as a flyer on the punt team. He can be a rusher on the punt return team as a pressure player off the edge, and I can also see him as blocker on the kickoff return. I don't think they want him on kickoff coverage now, because if you look at that group it tends to be dominated with defensive players. My guess is that Bryant will dress in place of Cedrick Wilson.
- I was surprised that Tony Pollard didn't get more snaps last week against the Saints. In talking to people around the club, no one had a really good answer for why that was the case. I don't believe Pollard did anything wrong in practice leading up to the game. As a matter of fact, I had heard that he was getting his normal work like he had been the previous three weeks -- so it was just the way it went for him. I don't see him sitting on the sidelines much in this game. The Packers have struggled defending the run, so playing both Ezekiel Elliott and Pollard would be the ideal plan. Pollard could also be problematic for these Packers linebackers in coverage, as they have had their share of problems in space.
- Speaking of running the ball for the Cowboys. The film from the Eagles game will give Kellen Moore some nice ideas on how he should attack this Packers defense. Where the Eagles had success was by angle blocking and then getting pullers in space. The Eagles were also able to use misdirection where they showed the ball to one side, drawing the defenders over and then cutting it back the other way. Back in the day we called that a "scissors" action. The Packers also struggled with the Eagles when they trap blocked. There were several snaps where the "H" back or tight end blocked down to the inside, allowing the ball to come behind the block. I would expect the Cowboys offensive line have a bounce back game even with Tyron Smith out of the lineup.