started learning to play last year.
That will be Brad Johnson taking a few more snaps in practice this week, just in case, and to think he has not thrown more than one regular-season NFL pass in a game since Dec. 17 of last year.
That will be Davis starting at strong safety if the NFL does not buy Roy's argument, and while he has 21 NFL starts to his credit, he hasn't started a game since Dec. 10 of last year.
That will be rookie Courtney Brown then coming in on the dime defense when Davis moves into Roy's linebacker spot, taking the place of Watkins back there next to Ken Hamlin.
That will be dime corner Nate Jones taking some safety snaps this week in practice, as he did toward the end of last year only to move back to basically an inside cover corner on the sub-packages this year. Don't forget Evan Oglesby, either, even if he hasn't been active on game day since Oct. 21.
And that will be Brown and fellow rookie, seventh-round pick Alan Ball picking up Watkins' considerable slack on special teams, considering Watkins leads the team with 25 special teams tackles, and to think Ball will just be making his NFL debut against the Panthers after getting signed off the practice squad just last week.
Come on now. Two rookies, a bunch of little-used special teams players and the backup center who really never needed to back up until the second half of this past Sunday's game? And you need to win on the road?
"You can't get to the Super Bowl without some luck and guys stepping up," Cowboys secondary coach Todd Bowles said. "The rookies are rookies the first week of the season only, and after that they better be ready to play. We practice them hard every day. Now it's a matter of doing it on the field.
"Let's see what kind of young guys I got."
With guts like that, no wonder Bowles played defensive back for eight years in the NFL. Most of us would be tossing and turning all night, every night this week.
Bowles? He says, "I'm not going to lose too much sleep over it," pointing out how the club had been forced to make do without Terence Newman and Anthony Henry being on the field at the same time for most of the season, "so how much different can this be?"
And maybe equally, throw some holy water at the Pro Bowl, because the doom and gloom raining on The Ranch for the majority of the past two days suddenly lifted early Tuesday afternoon when head coach Wade Phillips called his players together after practice to read off this year's Pro Bowl selections. He would announce 11 of his players' names, matching the single-season most for the Cowboys (1993-94).
Seven were going for at least a second time, but consider the joy when he announced first-time selections Terence Newman, rookie Nick Folk, seventh-year veteran Leonard Davis, finally shedding his tag of underachiever, and get this, backup running back Marion Barber, who basically bulldozed his way over to the Islands.
Let the sun shine in.
"When I announced them, they cheered, and they jumped up and down when I announced the first-time guys, especially," Phillips said of his Pro Bowl presentation. "I think it helped our team. We got our juices flowing again. They got excited about their teammates.
"I got the feeling that we got back as a team, (got) over losing the game."
As he recounted the story, the gleam had returned to his eyes, too. The first-time Pro Bowlers. The three offensive linemen named starters. Jason Witten. And with each, the excitement rose in his voice.
"Wow," Phillips said, as if the idea of 11 Pro Bowlers from his team settling in, causing him to recite a line from a Robert Earl Keen song, "the road goes on forever and the party never ends."
That, too, and who knows, maybe a Cowboys' equally-fitting subscript out front.