IRVING, Texas - Here are some final thoughts from the Scout's Notebook
Let Your Star Be The Star
Where Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan have done a much better job in the 2nd half of this season is finding ways to move Dez Bryant around in order to find him space in the defense. By using Bryant on the outside but also in the slot has prevented teams from getting a read on where he is going to operate from. Also give Bryant credit for embracing all the moving around and doing a solid job with his
assignments and routes. Against this Redskins secondary, there will be opportunities for some productive plays that are simple throws. Keep an eye on Bryant out of the slot this week if the Redskins decide not to bring DeAngelo Hall with him inside. Usually Josh Wilson will play the slot and there is no way that if Bryant continues to run those routes across the field and underneath, that he can match him. I expect Garrett and Callahan to become even more creative in where they move Dez Bryant around in this game.
In his press conference on Friday morning, I asked Jason Garrett about how hard it was to practice and prepare for the Redskins this week with all the players that were missing at one time or another for various medical reasons and his answer was that it wasn't easy but you find ways to adjust. The biggest problem for this club is trying to field enough players for your scout teams to give your first and second groups the plays they need to work against to get ready for the ball game. If you just take the defensive group for example, with Jason Hatcher, DeMarcus Ware and George Selvie missing time, that meant guys like Everette Brown, Jarius Wynn and Martez Wilson had to take double reps working with both the defense, then turning around and playing on the scout team for the offense. DeVonte Holloman will be getting his first start at Mike because of injuries to Sean Lee, Justin Durant and Ernie Sims, but there he was getting work on the scout team, just trying to help out. Kyle Wilber is another guy that does this as well. Brandon Carr missed the last two days of practice dealing with a virus, so Sterling Moore who now starts in the nickel on the outside was working as a scout team corner with B.W. Webb. Garrett even spoke of offensive players such as receivers working as corners, just so they could field 11 players to work against. If things had gotten any worse, I am sure, that defensive back coach, Jerome Henderson, who was a former NFL cornerback could have took a rep or two. The last thing a coaching staff wants to deal with is problems during their weekly preparation but it sounds like they were able to work around the issues they had.
Not A Simple Replacement
It will be another week without Dwayne Harris in the lineup due to his hamstring injury. I always make a joke on our show Talkin' Cowboys about Harris being like that Swiss Army Knife in your pocket. He is the blade, spoon and scissors all in one. Of all the injuries down the stretch, the one to Sean Lee was huge but I could make a case that the one to Harris has been the one that is the most difficult to replace. There are so many roles that he has on the team, that you just can't bring one player on board and feel like that is taken care of. In an attempt to find Harris' replacement, the front office turned to the coaching staff in hope that their experience with certain players over the years, that there might be someone on the street that could maybe fill that void. In this case, Rich Bisaccia had been with Michael Spurlock during two different stops with the Buccaneers and Chargers. What you get from Spurlock is a punt and kickoff return man, an outside flyer on the punt team and a player you can use on the kickoff team as the L3 or R3 as a cover man. I am not going to sit here and tell you that Spurlock will be as productive as Dwayne Harris but it is important that his coach believes that he can more than handle the job and with so much on the line you need that type of confidence in the player.
Important Practice Squad Addition
It's not normally that I get too up or down about practice squad addition for a team when it comes to reporting them but when I was a scout, that was not the case at all. I thought it was important for various reasons to consistently add and subtract players in [embedded_ad] order to not only give the coaches the best group of players to function every day for practice but I also believed in trying to develop one or two players that we might be able to use as future starters much like the Cowboys did with Ronald Leary in 2012. There are also other reasons you use your practice squad and that is to bring a player or two on that might have been with a future opponent and pick their brain about ways that they might operate. The Cowboys made a very interesting practice squad move on a player that was with the Redskins through their game in Atlanta just last week. Lance Lewis is a receiver that was on the active roster for the Redskins for the last month of the season and active in games against the 49ers, Giants and Falcons and he takes the place of Jamar Newsome who was on the practice squad, but was injured this week. Usually teams will not add players this late in the week unless they are rolling guys on and off to have a nine or ten man roster. Lewis got to suit up with the Cowboys and practice on Friday and will do so again on Saturday before the team leaves that afternoon. As a staff, you look for any advantage that you might get in a matchup and in this case, the Cowboys might have found a good one.