IRVING, Texas - The young Cowboy receivers are being asked to grow up quickly.
At the beginning of the season, players like Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris and were thought to be simple insurance policies for the Cowboys' top three receivers, perhaps getting sporadic playing time at random points throughout the season.
It turns out the Cowboys need to take advantage of those insurance policies after all. After suffering a concussion in the Browns game Kevin Ogletree was inactive against the Redskins. Early in the first quarter, Miles Austin left the game with a hip injury without making a single reception. Austin's status is currently unknown as he will have an MRI on his hip flexor to determine if he will miss more time.
Losing two of their best receivers did not stop the Cowboys from throwing the ball. In fact, the Cowboys passed the ball an incredible 62 times against Washington compared to just 11 running plays.
They simply asked Harris and Beasley to play prominent riles within the offense the entire game. Beasley was used as a slot receiver for most of the game. He had more receptions in Thursday's game than he had accumulated in his young career up to that point. He had seven receptions for 68 yards on Thursday. He only had five receptions on the season coming into the game.
Beasley was asked after the Redskins game if he looked at Austin's injury as an opportunity.
"I mean I already get a little bit of (playing time) when Miles is in there," Beasley said. "They try to work me in a little bit. I'm just focused on doing my job and trying to help this team win."
Harris continued his emergence as a playmaker as he caught four passes for a total of 71 yards. After the game Harris talked about the confidence that he has in the Cowboys' depth at receiver and that they will step up and get the job done.
"Regardless of who's out there we have guys that can make plays," Harris said. "Dez is out there, me, Andre, Beasley, everybody can catch the football and make stuff happen."
Harris went on to say that while the Redskins' game was a good opportunity for the young receivers, they had been working all season and were ready for the chance.
"Chemistry doesn't start in the game," Harris said. "We do this at practice. We go through practice all week. That's where chemistry builds. From practice to the game it's going to be even better now."
The young receivers, Harris and Beasley especially, proved on Thursday that they can be weapons for Tony Romo when called upon. In fact, there were a few plays that many people thought that Beasley was open in the slot, but that Romo missed him. Beasley defended his quarterback after the game.
"I never question Tony's decision making," Beasley said. "He's going to find the right guy. So if he didn't throw it to me then I wasn't open."
Beasley and Austin will likely get even more reps now the Cowboys have released Andre Holmes, a second-year receiver who was expected to compete for the third receiver spot this offseason after Laurent Robinson was let go in free agency.
Holmes never materialized as a receiver, catching just two passes and was inactive four times this year.
His spot on the roster will likely be replaced by speedy receiver Anthony Armstrong, who has been with the Dolphins and Redskins the past three seasons.
Even if Armstrong joins the mix, it might take some time before he gets acclimated in the offense. And that's all the more reason for Beasley and Harris to continue their progress.