It remains a discussion on if Xavier Rhodes will make his debut for the Cowboys when they face Tom Brady, but he's ready for them to call his number — already mentoring the young DBs
FRISCO, TX — If it's up to him, Xavier Rhodes will be in uniform and on the field to try and help the Dallas Cowboys in their visit to Raymond James Stadium on NFL Super Wild Card Weekend to take on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The decision is up to the coaching staff, however, but Rhodes is physically ready and in great spirits just envisioning another shot at playoff football.
"That's something you have to ask the coaches, but what I can tell you is how I feel out there," said the three-time Pro Bowl cornerback following practice on Thursday. "I feel great. I feel like I'm getting the hang of things on defense, with the playbook and everything, so we'll see sometime today or tomorrow."
But, as noted above, he's champing at the bit.
"Can I go? If I didn't, I wouldn't be here," he said.
Rhodes was signed to the Cowboys practice squad on Saturday, just hours before boarding the team's charter flight to the nation's capital for the regular season finale against the Washington Commanders. And despite the overall poor showing by Dallas, the time spent there was invaluable in helping Rhodes get a feel for his new organization.
"To just see how the team works, the camaraderie of the team, how guys communicate in games and how the coaches teach the players on the sidelines," said Rhodes. "You see all of that as a new player and you just fall right in."
Falling right in, and pronto, is precisely what the Cowboys are hoping for, and especially with a battle against Brady on the horizon with the season on the line. Helping Rhodes acclimate that much more quickly are familiar faces he spent time with at other NFL destinations.
A former first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2013, Rhodes played under current Cowboys senior defensive assistant George Edwards during the latter's stretch as one of the best defensive coordinators in the league, alongside safety Jayron Kearse and four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Anthony Barr.
"It feels great, like you're at home," Rhodes said of reuniting with his former Vikings compatriots in Dallas. "Once you go to a new team, and you don't know anyone, you have to start all over and feel it out yourself, and hopefully the guys like you. But having guys you've played with for multiple years, I'd say approximately a minimum of four [years].
"... You just fall in and they help you out with the team and the coaching staff."
He's not kidding, by the way. During a locker room congratulations for Kearse, who won the annual PFWA Good Guy Award for media availability over the course of the 2022 season, Rhodes ran over and poured celebratory water on an unexpecting Kearse's head — Kearse wearing an ear-to-ear grin and laughing after Rhodes' demonstration of love.
It's clear the two have maintained a bond that now carries over into the Cowboys locker room.
How that will play out on Monday, assuming Rhodes plays (he's trending toward making his debut), is to-be-determined, but he was clear on what exactly he brings to the team between the lines.
"Veteran [mentality] — 10 years in," said Rhodes. "I've seen a lot of things and been in a lot of situations throughout my NFL career. I've been to the NFC Championship and throughout the playoffs. You can name it all, I've probably been through it, and having that experience to teach the young guys what to expect in certain situations and what certain quarterbacks like to throw to; and who their favorite players are.
"I've been through a lot. I can definitely help teach them about situational football."
It's a similar energy to what T.Y. Hilton, Jason Peters, Anthony Barr and Johnathan Hankins have contributed to their respective positions in 2022, something Malik Hooker began doing in 2021 for the safety unit, so forth and so on.
On Monday, if he's in uniform, it'll be another chance for Rhodes to make a run at potentially landing his first-ever Super Bowl ring, and doing so with the Cowboys would also carry the special air of ending a longstanding drought in Dallas. The team hopes Rhodes is the final piece needed to accomplish that task, and he's hoping for the same success.
"I'll be thankful for it because that means the team trusts me to be out there on the field with the guys and play football," he said. "For that to happen for me, if it's to happen, I'll be truly thankful and do what I do best: play my game."