IRVING, Texas – Too many defensive linemen to choose from is a good problem to have these days for the Cowboys, especially after last season when the team brought in player after player seemingly each week.
Now Josh Brent enters the mix, creating even more of a case for playing time.
"It results in serious competition. All these guys want their reps," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Friday on his weekly radio show on KRLD-FM. "He's (Brent) just chomping at the bit and you see things that are just really indicative of good teams in drills."
December of 2012 was the last time Brent played an NFL game, however he could suit up Sunday at Met Life Stadium for the Cowboys. However, coach Jason Garrett said Friday the team has not decided whether Brent will be active on the 46-man game day roster.
"He has made a lot of great strides," Garrett said. "I think he is really changing his body and working hard at that. He understands the importance of doing that and how much it impacts on him on the field in terms of stamina and his ability to move throughout a play and from play to play. He has been a good player for us in the past. He is working hard to get back to that stage."
And that sentiment was echoed by Jones. "We've seen him drive that All-Pro center (Travis Frederick) into the backfield sometimes which is good for both of them."
Jones said Garrett will make the ultimate call on Brent's status but added the defensive coordinator will have a say in the matter.
"That's a decision that obviously Jason will make, but Rod Marinelli will be the key input there for him," said Jones. "The ones that have had their best week of practice it's a big counter as to who gets the jerseys to play Sunday."
Expecting Better Eli
Competition breeds excellence and despite the Giants suffering five straight losses, Jones knows Eli Manning and the Giants won't be a pushover.
"He's (Manning) coming off those five interceptions and you know he's going to be very aware of protecting that ball and i expect him to basically help him protect the ball by emphasizing running plays," Jones cautioned. "We know he can make the big play. He's a seasoned quarterback. He's given us all that we wanted and more since being the quarterback of the Giants."
Manning has faced the Cowboys 20 times in his career with an even record of 10-10, thanks to three straight losses. In a 31-21 loss to Dallas earlier this year, Manning was 21 of 33 for 248 yards and three touchdowns with no picks.
Case For Randle
DeMarco Murray is having a career year, but do the Cowboys need to look elsewhere to help fortify that running back position for the stretch run of the season? Jones said Friday that wouldn't be necessary, making the case for Joseph Randle.
"We've got one that if he carried that ball 20 times a game I think he would have outstanding numbers in the 100-yard area and that is Joseph Randle," Jones said. "Were really proud of his progress, what he is doing when he's gotten the ball he's been impressive."
Randle's 6.9 yards per carry this year are the best in the NFL among running backs with at least 25 carries. He can run, but does that include being able to pass block?
"Absolutely," Jones said. "Absolutely. Unequivocally. He's ready to go. He's really made a lot of improvement…I know it's unfortunate for everybody that he had the incident that he had and it's embarrassing and it's not good, but on the other hand one of the things that being a competitor that being in sports allows you to do if you're contrite and you want to do it, it allows you to basically rehab a bad mistake better than the average guy."
Randle was arrested back on Oct. 13 for a shoplifting charge at a nearby mall. He was not suspended by was heavily fined by the Cowboys. The incident also sparked some controversy in the locker room when Randle references some off-the-field incidents with some of his teammates in a recorded conversation that occurred following his arrest.
"A lot, most of us get out here and if you make those mistakes, it's real hard to spend the time and have the visibility that it takes to correct that mistake in the eyes of your peers or in the eyes of the fans. Football players have an advantage if they want to take advantage of it and they can get back in the good graces."