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Writer's Blocks: On Centers, Covid & Clayborn


FRISCO, Texas – The human brain is an astonishing thing.

It's the most amazing organ in the body, as it essentially functions as a super computer that's capable of regulating your literal anatomy – not to mention your thought process. At the same time, it can also deceive you and serve to be your own worst enemy.

The reason I bring this up has everything to do with the dystopian football season we're currently living through.

1. For most of the month of August, I woke up every morning expecting to read something depressing about COVID-19's effect on the NFL season. With everything I had learned about the virus this year, it just seemed unrealistic that teams could conduct practices across 32 different facilities without an outbreak.

But then training camp started, and nothing happened. And nothing happened. And eventually the new normal settled in. By the time the season rolled around, I felt reasonably confident that the NFL's protocols were working.

When the league made it through two regular season games without so much as a hiccup, I have to admit I may have started to take this whole thing for granted. The NFL can move at such a rapid pace, and when you're chasing stories about injuries and shuffled lineups, it was easy for me to forget that the ever-present threat of COVID has been lingering this entire time.

2. If I did forget, I have since been reminded. The NFL has officially postponed its first game due to coronavirus, as a series of cases in the Tennessee Titans' facility has prompted their game against Pittsburgh to be moved.

It's a hell of a wakeup call, given how hard it is to reschedule a football game. This isn't baseball, where teams can easily play two games in a day, and where the volume of games in a season lessens the importance of canceling a game. In the NFL, the results of one week can and do swing the playoff picture.

From the sounds of it, the Titans and Steelers have a decent workaround in order. They may not get their traditional bye week, and that's hardly ideal – but the changes to their season shouldn't be too drastic.

But imagine if this happens again. Or half a dozen more times. It is startling to think how much the smallest slip could affect the makeup of the season – or the ability to finish it at all.

3. I don't say any of that to point fingers. There are so many variables that go into keeping everyone healthy. And with the amount of money at stake, I'd like to think it's not negligence on anyone's part, so much as a reminder of how hard it is to play football during a pandemic.

Well, it's a heck of a timely reminder. Hopefully it leads to another few months of smooth sailing.

4. On to football.

I need to be careful with how I word this, but I came away from my re-watch of last week's game very impressed with Tyler Biadasz.

The fourth-round rookie out of Wisconsin got quite an introduction to the NFL on Sunday. When the coaches opted to shuffle the offensive line by moving Zack Martin out to guard, they compensated by moving Joe Looney to right guard and calling Biadasz off the bench to play center.

He might not have been perfect, but Biadasz absolutely looked like he belonged. He played 52 snaps – which is pretty absurd, given that he didn't enter the game until midway through third quarter. In all of those snaps, I might have seen him get pushed back once. He probably didn't do the right thing on every snap, but the guy can anchor the hell down.

But that's why I want to be cautious about my phrasing. The sample size is too small for me to call for Biadasz to enter the starting lineup. But it does make me wonder if, before the end of the season, he might be one of the Cowboys' five best offensive linemen.

Like I said, it's too early to make bold proclamations. But it is something I'm wondering about.

5. You're going to come face to face with your demons on Sunday, Cowboys fans.

He's not currently practicing because of a hip injury, but Adrian Clayborn currently plays for the Cleveland Browns. How ironic that the man who gave Cowboy fans a phobia of offensive line injuries has resurfaced once again.

I'm positive you don't need me to tell you this, but it was Clayborn who abused Chaz Green to the tune of six sacks during that fateful Cowboys-Falcons game in 2017. It feels fair to say that the beating Dak Prescott took that day killed his confidence in his offensive line for the rest of that season.

That game also went a long way toward securing Clayborn with a two-year, $10 million contract with New England the next year. So you're welcome, Adrian.

6. To get back to my point, though. It's fitting that the Cowboys are facing Clayborn's team during this rash of offensive line injuries – because it was Clayborn who gave everyone this irrational fear in the first place.

The Cowboys have played the last two games without either of their starting tackles. They haven't had La'el Collins all season. Losing Smith from the lineup has become the norm, as this is now unfortunately his fifth-straight season without playing 16 games.

And guess what? They're OK! Obviously, it looks prettier when you have a potential Hall of Famer in the lineup -- and obviously, they have a losing record. But the injuries haven't stopped the offense from humming right along. The Cowboys are averaging 30 points per game, and by no means is Dak Prescott taking the type of beating we witnessed three years ago.

It's OK to let it go. The Adrian Clayborn Game was a freak occurrence – an unfortunate and weird blip of Cowboys history. It's not the norm for what happens when a starting tackle can't play.

Perhaps beating Clayborn's team – or at the very least not allowing him to wreck the game – will help exercise those demons.

7. Of course, I do recognize that there's a more important pass rusher on the Browns' roster by the name of Myles Garrett.

For starters, I'm optimistic Smith will be able to go in this game. But even if he's not, I stand by what I said. Hopefully Garrett doesn't make me eat my words on Sunday afternoon.

8. As if I needed a reminder that you have to savor the good times.

I did exactly what I said I'd do on Saturday. I was dialed in, I was excited, I was obnoxious – and then I was depressed. LSU's undefeated run didn't make it one week into 2020, as they allowed K.J. Costello to set the SEC passing yardage record in Mike Leach's first game at Mississppi State.

To say it was a buzzkill would be putting it mildly. But you know what? It's fine. The vast majority of the time, your favorite football team is going to depress and disappoint you. The reason you watch is for that rare occasion when everything is perfect. LSU could depress me every weekend this season – and for many seasons to come – and it'll still have been worth it to watch Joe Burrow, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Grant Delpit, Patrick Queen, Justin Jefferson, Ja'Marr Chase and all the rest do their thing. Those memories will quite literally last me a lifetime.

That actually applies really well to a column for Because I can't tell you when the Cowboys will win their next championship. But I can promise you that when they do, all the time and energy and disappointment you've put in will have been worth it.


Don't miss the chance to see the Cowboys when they return to AT&T Stadium on October 4th to take on the Cleveland Browns. A limited number of tickets are on sale now. Click here to find tickets.

Details on all of the health and safety procedures you can expect at AT&T Stadium this season can be viewed at

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