FRISCO, Texas – Xavier Su'a-Filo is determined to maximize this opportunity, no matter how long it lasts.
It wasn't long ago that the 27-year-old guard went from full-time starting NFL guard to out of work.
A second-round pick by the Texans in 2014, Su'a-Filo was taken one pick before the Cowboys drafted pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence at No. 34 overall. He started 41 games in Houston at both guard spots over the previous four seasons and signed a one-year deal with the Titans in March. But Tennessee released him at final cuts, opting to keep rookie Aaron Stinnie instead.
"It's a business, a competitive business," Su'a-Filo said. "It's something you love to do, something that you do to provide for your family. That's never a good feeling. I was confident that it was just a matter of time, but the waiting period for anybody, it's not fun."
The Cowboys signed Su'a-Filo in Week 2 after placing guard Parker Ehinger on injured reserve. Inactive for the next seven games with essentially no practice reps with the starting offensive line, he got the start at left guard against the Eagles on a short week after rookie left guard Connor Williams had arthroscopic knee surgery.
In Philadelphia, the offensive line delivered one of their most complete performances to date. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 151 yards and a touchdown, and Dak Prescott completed a season-high 72.2 percent of his passes for 270 yards and a score in a 27-20 victory.
A more experienced and powerful option up front than center/guard Adam Redmond, Su'a-Filo (6-4, 310) held his own against Eagles star defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and Philly's vaunted interior line.
"He did a really nice job in the game," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "He worked very hard in practice. That was certainly a big point of emphasis for us going up there on the road making sure we communicate well, everybody on the same page."
Monday, Garrett told reporters that he hadn't made any determinations yet on who will start at left guard this Sunday at Atlanta.
Williams' health might be the deciding factor again this week. The Cowboys' 2018 second-round pick returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis, but it's uncertain if he'll be available for a full workload by the end of the week.
Su'a-Filo will stay ready.
"Going from that role of not being (a starter), it was an adjustment," he said. "But I think I took a mature approach to it. You have to know your role and you have to execute it to whatever they're asking you to do, wherever you're at."