FRISCO, Texas – Win or lose on Sunday, the Cowboys cannot change their playoff status. Locked in as the No. 4 seed, regardless of what happens against the Giants, there is a perception that this regular-season finale is rather meaningless.
But not to everyone, especially running back Darius Jackson.
"It matters to me. It matters to a lot of guys," Jackson said. "It's an NFL game. … It's a blessing. If my number is called, you best believe I'll be ready.
And he better stay ready.
Now, if Jason Garrett has said it once, he's said it a dozen times this week. The head coach has reiterated over and over that he plans to play all healthy players against the Giants.
But Garrett will always be practical and considering that running back Ezekiel Elliott is approaching 400 touches on the season, it might make the most sense to rest him, or at least pull him out of the game way before the finish.
If that happens, Jackson will be more than ready.
There was a reason the Cowboys decided to call up Jackson from the practice squad before last week's game with the Buccaneers. While the running back only played special teams, he is ready for a bigger role on offense if it presents itself.
"Oh, yeah. I'm always ready when called upon," Jackson said. "Depending on how much Zeke plays, but me and Rod [Smith] are ready as always to take advantage of those reps if we get them."
Considering the road Jackson has traveled over the last three seasons, he has no other option but to keep himself ready to play.
"Yeah, it's been kind of crazy," Jackson said, "but I'm here now. And this is where I want to be."
Ironically enough, Dallas is where it all started for Jackson. As a sixth-round pick from Eastern Michigan, he was a member of the Cowboys' heralded 2016 draft class that produced Elliott, Dak Prescott, Jaylon Smith, Maliek Collins and Anthony Brown. Now, Rico Gathers is starting to contribute, and Jackson hopes he can be included in that conversation as well.
"The  group – most of us are here. It's a special group," Jackson said. "I feel at home here. Anytime I could come back, I was going to take an opportunity to come back."
Jackson made the Cowboys' 53-man roster that first year and spent most of the season inactive. Late in the year, he was a released and claimed by the Browns. But a torn ACL injury in Cleveland left him out of football for all of last season.
He was cut by the Browns and rejoined the Cowboys this offseason.
"After I missed all of last year, I came back here for OTAs and I felt great," said Jackson, who rushed for 72 yards and had 70 receiving yards in the preseason. "I thought I had a shot to make (the roster), but I was cut again. Green Bay called me and I had to take that opportunity."
Jackson spent five weeks on the Packers' 53-man roster and played in three games, mostly on special teams. He was cut by Green Bay and once again re-signed with the Cowboys' practice squad.
This time, though, Jackson made more of a commitment to stay in Dallas.
"I just said this is where I want to be. I want to stay here," Jackson said. "There were some teams that called, but you only want to move around so much. This whole year, I've been living out of a suitcase. It's time to settle down, dig in and go to work."
Jackson has certainly been working since he returned. That hard work has now earned him a spot on the roster.
And who knows, maybe it will earn him a few carries on Sunday.
Either way, rest assured Jackson will be ready.