FRISCO, Texas – It's been a persistent idea for much of the last month, and it's not one the Cowboys are buying.
Given their impressive record and their lengthy injury report, there's been plenty of talk of giving the Cowboys' playmakers a chance to rest up during this stretch run. That thought has centered around Ezekiel Elliott as he fights through a knee injury, and the same can be said for Tyron Smith.
Asked about that Tuesday morning, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said it's not an attitude they can afford.
"We've got to play this game as though it were for the marbles," Jones said. "I think the other day, the second half the other shows us there's no given. We all let down a little bit going into that second half and our thoughts were maybe this one is in the bag. We all had that feeling."
The course of events reflect that. The Cowboys jogged into the halftime locker room with a 24-0 lead against Washington that had almost looked easy. By the time they boarded the buses to the airport, they had eked out a 27-20 win that had made plenty of people nervous.
"They got players — whoever you're playing — have players that can make those plays, make those inordinate plays," Jones said. "And your team can make a bad play. And before you know it, you're right there and fighting."
Some of these decisions have already been made, anyway. Elliott has made it clear on several occasions that he's going to do whatever's necessary to be available. Meanwhile, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy has already ruled Smith out of this game as he recovers from re-aggravating the ankle injury that's bothered him for much of the season.
Sunday will be Smith's fourth absence this season, which unfortunately continues a six-year trend of being unavailable for significant chunks of the year. However frustrating that might be, McCarthy he said it still isn't a situation that requires surgery, and Jones added that Smith should be available as the Cowboys creep closer to the postseason.
"The good news about this is we'll miss him Sunday, but we'll for sure have him as we get into the last part of the season and into the playoffs relative to these injuries that he's dealing with," he said.