Here are some random thoughts as the Cowboys get ready for Sunday's game with Carolina.
Bad luck for Johnson
I really feel terrible for Matt Johnson and the injury that he suffered to his left hamstring which was the one he originally hurt. Johnson was prepping to get his first game action of the season against the Panthers not only on special teams but he was getting some work with Gerald Sensabaugh in some packages with the defense.
In his press conference before practice today, Jason Garrett spoke of how much progress that Johnson had made since coming back from his hamstring and back problems but this was a huge setback. My sources were telling me that his movements were outstanding and he had a really nice feel what he was going to have to do in the scheme that Rob Ryan had for him in this game.
There is a side of me that believes you should just go ahead and place Johnson on injured reserve, let him get completely healthy and worry about putting this season behind him and worry about 2013 but my plan doesn't always go with what the front office and coaches have in mind.
Hopeful on Dez
I am getting the sense that the groin injury that Dez Bryant suffered in practice is not that serious and he should be ready to go on Sunday. Sounds like the area is sore and should be better with treatment.
After the way that Bryant played last week against the Ravens this Panthers secondary will give him an opportunity to build on that. I thought that Tony Romo did a really nice job of getting Bryant going early last week which carried him through the game.
I know there have been times where Bryant has started fast than tailed off but in my view, he is better equipped to handle some of the ups and downs that he might have during a game. Look for Romo to find him early in this game as well.
When I worked in player personnel in the league, I was always very aware of how our roster was structured. I always asked myself if there was something we were missing player wise or we were too short at a position or too long at another? You are always trying to think of ways to help your coaches.
Right now the Cowboys are having to carry extra players at certain positions just because of injury. It's another week of is Chris Jones going to punt or is Brian Moorman healthy enough to do the job if Jones can't go? I really thought that the Cowboys caught a huge break when Jones only had to punt one time and to his credit, he gutted it up and did his job well.
Jones is listed on the injury report this week as questionable and with Moorman taking the reps this week I have a gut feeling that he will be the punter and holder Sunday in Carolina which would allow Jones another week to completely get his knee healthy as possible. As a personnel guy, you hate to have to carry anything extra on your 53 unless it's offensive and defensive linemen but in this case, the front office has no choice but to carry two punters which plays with your roster a bit.
Panthers Have O-Line Issues
The Panthers have had some issues at center with losing their Pro Bowler Ryan Kalil for the season with a foot injury. To make up for this loss the normal starting right guard Geoff Hangartner shifts into that spot and backup tackle Garry Williams will now start in Hangartner's spot.
The one advantage the Panthers had this week in making that change was during the off week they were able to get a look how this combination was going to work. Rob Ryan likes to bring pressure from the inside with Sean Lee and Bruce Carter on games and stunts with the down linemen. Look for Ryan to attack this area early to see if they can take advantage of all the position switching that is going on this week for the Panthers.
It takes really good coordination when you're an offensive line and you are passing twists and stunts. If the Cowboys are able to get some pressure inside not only with some blitzes but push from Ratliff and Brent in the running game, it could prove to be disruptive in their zone read schemes.