FRISCO, Texas –The playoffs are no longer possible, but Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is approaching Sunday's finale at Philadelphia just like the first 15 games of the season.
"Anybody who is healthy is going to play in this game," Garrett said Wednesday before practice. "If they're not healthy, they won't play in the game."
Last Sunday's 21-12 loss to Seattle officially eliminated the Cowboys (8-7) from playoff contention with one game remaining. But Garrett has instilled in his team a mindset of finishing strong, no matter their circumstances.
That means key starters such as quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott are set to play against the NFC East champion Eagles, who clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs on Monday night.
"We're going to play the guys who are able to play physically and give ourselves every chance to play our best football," Garrett said.
With the No. 1 playoff seed clinched, it remains to be seen how the Eagles will handle playing time with their own starters Sunday.
Garrett was asked why he wouldn't consider giving more snaps to his own younger players.
"If you look at our team, we have a lot of young guys playing, all throughout our team," he said. "If there's a young guy who's worthy of an opportunity, who's earned that opportunity, he'll get a chance to play in the ball game — and you'll see that all throughout our roster. But we're not just going to give a guy an opportunity because he's young. He has to earn the right to play. And that's a really important concept on our team."
Indeed, several rookies and first-year players have had significant roles this season, including linebacker Jaylon Smith, defensive backs Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis and Xavier Woods.
Several veterans were not expected to practice Wednesday, including starting offensive tackles Tyron Smith (knee/back) and La'el Collins (back), linebacker Anthony Hitchens (knee) and defensive lineman David Irving (concussion).