FRISCO, TX — It's time for the Dallas Cowboys to get back to the grind after enjoying a needed bye week that saw them gain ground in the NFC. Sitting at 4-2 on the season, the Detroit Lions suffering a brutal loss to the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers sliding to a two-game losing streak made for a near-perfect weekend.
Now just one game behind the Philadelphia Eagles and heading into that all-important matchup in Week 9, it's first about making sure no one is overlooking the Los Angeles Rams.
The good news is head coach Mike McCarthy is 11-5 as an NFL head coach following bye weeks, and he spoke on Wednesday about the biggest key to his success in that regard.
"I think the first thing is rest and recovery," said McCarthy. "Their ability to step away mentally and emotionally is probably the most important. And, physically, it's good for all of them."
The latter is saying the least when considering the current health of the team.
Entering their battle with the Los Angeles Chargers, the Cowboys owned a laundry list of ailments on their injury report but, the recent additions to injured reserve notwithstanding (i.e., Leighton Vander Esch and C.J. Goodwin), that's changed wildly as practice fires up this week.
Juanyeh Thomas, the promising young safety, will return to full practice duties on Wednesday along with every single player on the active roster — inclusive of three starters on the offensive line who were playing through injury (Tyron Smith (knee), Tyler Biadasz (ankle) and Zack Martin (thigh)).
The rest and recovery was needed, and it puts the Cowboys in great shape going forward.
"Clearly, the fact we'll have a full roster available to practice shows you the benefit of the bye week," McCarthy explained. "This is a long year. The challenge of what they go through mentally and emotionally — it's a big deal. I've always done the bye week the same. I've always given the players as much time off as I possibly could, because I think it's important."
It's also important to those who coach and support the players.
"And the other part of it is that your staff needs it," McCarthy said. "Our staff has done a really good job. The amount of work that our coaching staff, particularly our young assistants … it gives them a chance to step away, too."
To that point, at least somewhat, is the fact running game coordinator and running backs coach Jeff Blasko has returned from a personal leave of absence stemming from a health matter. In his absence, those duties were relegated to others, so his return could lead to a more hastened chemistry/synergy within the Cowboys' rushing attack.
So, as McCarthy said, the bye week was paramount to helping Dallas reset.
And they've done exactly that.