FRISCO, Texas – That's one positive about the short week: it's already time to try this again.
Coming off a disappointing outing on Monday Night Football, the Cowboys didn't have a ton of time to dwell on it. Friday's already here and it's time to focus on Philadelphia.
This venue has honestly been pretty good to the Cowboys over the years. In his time as the head coach, Jason Garrett is 5-2 against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Given the amount of injuries the Cowboys are dealing with, though, this one figures to be tough.
Here's my notebook for the weekend as we get ready for the Cowboys' third divisional game of the season.
· It has been a true competition between Adam Redmond and Xavier Su'a-Filo at left guard. On Wednesday, Redmond received the majority of the snaps, with Su'a-Filo getting the snaps on Thursday. The question here for the staff is: do they want to go with the lighter, more athletic Redmond over the bigger, more powerfully built Su'a-Filo? The Eagles remind me of the Redskins inside with those big defensive tackles. I might lean toward Su'a-Filo in order to match their power, plus he has more experience as a former starter in Tennessee and Houston. Redmond did get the first crack at the job last week when Zack Martin missed practice last Wednesday so keep an eye on that.
· I' m hearing it was a good week of practice for Geoff Swaim and Randy Gregory, so I expect that they will be available and ready for action against the Eagles on Sunday night. Both were moving around better, and -- to the credit of the training staff – they should play major roles without any limitations.
· The Cowboys announced Friday that Taco Charlton won't play this week. His shoulder injury will keep him out, so that means Tyrone Crawford will once again start at defensive end with Randy Gregory as his backup. When Charlton was injured in the Titans game, that left Crawford to have to do the majority of the heavy lifting. I see this as a spot where both Crawford and Gregory could do some good against Jason Peters. He too has struggled with injuries but also tends to be a little slow-footed.
· I will be interested to see how the Cowboys plan to handle Zach Ertz in this game. I wrote earlier in the week that I thought we would see Xavier Woods on the matchup due to his ability as a nickel cover defender, but Jeff Heath makes sense, as well. The coaches have been using Heath down in the box more due to his toughness, but this could also be an opportunity for him to play some coverage. I'm going to look for a mix of the two safeties early to figure out who might be having the most success against him.
· Studying Carson Wentz this week, there needs to be a plan in place for how to handle him when he takes off running from the pocket. Time after time, when things break down for him, he becomes a runner – despite the fact that he's coming off the knee injury he suffered last season. The Cowboys like to blitz their linebackers, especially in nickel situations. This might be an opportunity to keep Leighton Vander Esch or Damien Wilson around the line of scrimmage in order to keep Wentz from running on them. This defense generally doesn't spy guys, but Wentz can beat you with his legs much like Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson so it's worth paying attention to.
· We got word on Friday that Noah Brown is coming back to the active roster, and I'm curious to see what his role will be. It's been a long time since we've seen Brown, as he didn't have much of a training camp. But if you remember back to last season, he was active as a blocker and also had a role in the passing game – so that's something to watch. From all indications, Brown is ready and has been practicing well. This is another big-bodied receiver that can play in various roles and I am hearing the coaching staff is doing just that.
· Here's an encouraging stat for the Cowboys. Keep an eye on the number of red zone trips the Eagles have in this game. They are last in the NFL when it comes to converting third downs in the red zone to extend drives. Last season they were ranked second overall. The Eagles have only converted 4 times in 20 tries on third down in the red zone. Forcing the Eagles to attempt field goals could affect the outcome of this game.
· My weekly guess at the Cowboys inactives: QB Mike White, LB Joe Thomas, LB Sean Lee, OG Connor Williams, WR Tavon Austin, DT David Irving, DE Taco Charlton.