With so much talk surrounding the possible signing of Odell Beckham, Jr., many are overlooking the debut of James Washington, which might happen as early as Week 14 vs. the Texans
FRISCO, TX — If you're currently suffering mental and emotional fatigue from the ongoing saga surrounding Odell Beckham, Jr., there are some smelling salts in the form of James Washington that might snap both the Dallas Cowboys and their fans out of their current state as it relates to the wide receiver room.
Washington, who saw his 21-day practice window activated by the team on Wednesday, Nov. 30, is beginning to put the finishing touches on his second full week of practice and, by all accounts, he looks ready to make his 2022 debut for the Cowboys — having been sidelined since suffering a broken foot in training camp.
And according to two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Dak Prescott, Washington looks every bit the part of a former second-round pick.
"Yea, most definitely," said Prescott following practice on Thursday, as the Cowboys prepare to host the Houston Texans in Week 14. "Over the past couple of weeks, seeing him out there and being able to feel comfortable within himself — his timing — I'm confident in him. I'm sure it'll be sooner than later."
Washington was ramped up over last week's workload and, as a sign he'll likely get the green light soon, has been taking first-team reps with Prescott this week; and not second-team reps with backup quarterback Cooper Rush.
The goal is to get the timing between Prescott and Washington locked in, and pronto.
"Last week, I did a lot of scout team reps, but that was to get my feet wet again," said Washington. "It's all coming back to me, quickly."
Going one step further in his optimism and excitement was Pro Bowl wideout CeeDee Lamb, who has balanced his own surging dominance with both interest in signing Beckham while also knowing first-hand what Washington can do to opposing defenses.
Two former First-Team all-conference talents from the Big 12, Lamb and Washington squared off on more than one occasion as star players for Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, respectively, before eventually landing in the NFL (Washington in 2018, Lamb in 2020).
As such, Lamb is issuing a warning to any defense that would underestimate Washington.
"I've been playing against him since college," Lamb said. "To see him out here running around in practice — very explosive. He's your deep-threat guy so just be careful, is all I'm gonna say."
In speaking with Washington directly following his sixth official practice since being designated to return from IR, you can sense the confidence returning as he overcomes the final hurdle in his rehabilitation from the first major injury of his football life.
"I feel great," he said. "From four weeks ago to now, I feel a lot stronger in my plants and catching the ball in general. It's kind of like riding a bike at this point. Once you start doing it, it all just feels natural."
At this point, it's about getting Washington some game reps to reacclimate him to game speed and to acclimate him to Prescott and the offense, considering he's yet to take the field with the Cowboys franchise quarterback this season after signing a one-year deal, prove-it deal in March.
An electric talent for the Cowboys (the ones in Stillwater, OK), the Stamford, TX native and Fred Biletnikoff Award winner is looking to finally do exactly that for the Cowboys (the ones in Dallas): prove it.
"We're getting good reps in practice, but it's nothing like a game rep or game speed," said Washington. "I feel like once I get a few [game] reps, it'll all come back."
He has a very real chance at debuting for Dallas in Sunday's matchup against the Texans, something head coach Mike McCarthy is keeping an eye on as a possibility, though the move to potentially move him from injured reserve to the active roster would come later in the week — assuming the coaching and training staff deems him ready to go.
"I feel pretty good about [my chances of playing] honestly," Washington said. "It's gonna come down to the coaches — what they decide to do — so all I can do for myself is to just be ready for whatever they decide."