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The Dallas Cowboys have a chance to clinch the NFC East on Sunday with a win over the Indianapolis Colts. Even if they stumble Kavon Frazier Jersey , they still are almost certain to wind up as the division representative in the playoffs because one more win in any of their last three games, or one more loss each by Philadelphia and Washington will put Dallas in. So even though it is just week 15, the Cowboys can start peeking ahead at the playoffs. That means it is time to start thinking about resting some of their players, especially those that need some real healing.But is this wise? There are pluses and minuses, as our Michael Strawn and Tom Ryle discuss in this week’s friendly argument.Michael: I normally like for players to play. I’ve never been a fan of resting players to avoid injury. It’s frustrating watching teams sit their key players in late-season games and then when the playoffs start they spend the first quarter looking like players who haven’t played in several weeks.I feel differently this year. Specifically when it comes to Ezekiel Elliott and the offensive line. Injuries and illness have transformed what was considered the team’s best unit going into the season into, perhaps, its worst unit today. Tyron Smith and Zack Martin have both been hobbled recently and I’d be fine seeing them with reduced roles or even sitting out completely for a game or two. (Zack will be sitting on Sunday)Tom: First things first, I get a little uncomfortable even talking about the division being won until the deal is done. Yeah, I know it is like 99% that Dallas makes it to the postseason, but I am really not a fan of backing into anything. I want to see them earn it the right way, and that’s with a win on Sunday. That, to me, says you don’t sit anyone unless there is a real health concern. Zack Martin makes sense as a player you want to be very cautious with, since he did not practice and has been really struggling. Sitting him is a good call for Sunday. But Tyron Smith did practice, and I think he needs to go this week at a minimum.And there is one other thing to consider here. Dallas still has a shot at bumping the Chicago Bears from the #3 seed. As long as that is in play, it makes sense to go with your best players, rather than rest them. It simply may be too early to consider things.Michael: You’re absolutely right; nothing should be taken for granted and until the NFC East division championship is written in ink the team should go all out. Martin is a no go at this point for the Colts and Tyron is likely a go. Assuming Dallas has the championship wrapped up, one way or another, come Monday morning these should be legitimate topics of discussion. I’d simply feel a lot better letting those three players have some rest: Smith, Martin and Ezekiel Elliott.Elliott is on pace for a monster number of touches this season (410) and has averaged 32.5 (not a typo) touches his last four games. That translates to 520 touches over a full season. Elliott has come off the field looking absolutely worn out several times in recent weeks. I would feel a lot better giving Tron Cole Beasley Color Rush Jersey , ZMart and Zeke a break from the rigors so they can go into the playoffs as fresh as possible. Remember, the Cowboys have virtually no chance at a bye week. The only rest those players will see is what they can get over the next few weeks.Tom: I’ll concede on Martin, and the team already has with him being designated as out for the Colts game. He has been really fighting through his knee injury. Given those circumstances, they may just want to slow roll him until the postseason. But I’m less enthusiastic about having Tron sit, because he really looked rusty against the Eagles. I also think Zeke thrives on the workload, so while I could see having Rod Smith get a few more reps, I still think Zeke needs to get work and keep working hard towards the postseason. There is also a possible race to the rushing title, but fortunately, neither Zeke nor the team really seems to take that into account.I just don’t think the team should be considering rest until the final game against the Giants. At that point, they may be fully locked into the four seed and have nothing to gain or lose. Also, that is the only game left that is not indoors, and MetLife stadium is not exactly the best place to be playing a game in late December. There are certainly arguments to be made for protecting some of their players, especially if it is a really cold day. Heck, if their position is all wrapped up, I’m here for the Cooper Rush show. But that is really a bit different than resting, at least in how I look at it for the next two games. For those, keeping starters on the bench should be strictly injury/healing driven, not just to give them a break.Michael: Again, assuming the division title is secured, I think those three could really benefit from a lightened workload. Not necessarily sit out completely , but not play a full game either. Maybe play Tron a half in the week 16 contest against Tampa Bay and a quarter in the season finale. Reduce Zeke from 30+ touches to 15 or so (and probably sit completely in the season finale). It’s always a balancing act; you don’t want players to get rusty. But the OL has been so banged up....and Zeke has looked worn out at times. I personally think the situation gives the team an opportunity to rest these key players as they go into the most important games of the season.Tom: Well, I am going to remain a bit more skeptical about the whole resting idea, at least for the next couple of games. While moving up to the three seed may be very unlikely, I just don’t see why they should concede. I also have those reservations about how sometimes a little rust can set in. I prefer leaving it more up to the medical staff. But it ain’t our decision, so we will have to see how things go.OK, that’s our take. So how about you? Play head coach for a minute and let us know how you would handle this. It’s easy to get lost in the rookie hype, but don’t forget about the rest of the team."WhiteFanposts Fanshots Sections Dallas Cowboys NewsDallas Cowboys GeneralDon’t forget about these six Cowboys who are currently battling for a 2019 spotNew,72commentsIt’s easy to get lost in the rookie hype, but don’t forget about the rest of the team.CDTShareTweetShareShareDon’t forget about these six Cowboys who are currently battling for a 2019 spotTim Heitman-USA TODAY SportsIt happens every year around this time: a hyper-focus on the rookies that the Cowboys have just added, either through the draft or undrafted free agency. That’s a good thing because it’s important to get to know these new players as much as possible. But sometimes it’s easy to get so caught up in the new players that we forget about the ones currently on the roster. Sure, the hope is that every draft pick ends up being good enough to make the final 53-man roster, because that reflects well on the front office who picked them. But the narrative prior to the draft was that Dallas had done a lot to fill out their roster already and didn’t have any glaring needs in the draft, allowing them to take the best player available regardless of position (see: Connor McGovern). With that in mind, here are six Cowboys that shouldn’t be forgotten about just yet.DT Daniel RossThe Cowboys signed Ross off of the Chiefs’ practice squad near the end of the 2017 season. He saw limited action, but showed some promise that carried over into 2018, as he became a solid contributor in the defensive line rotation. He hasn’t seen a ton of snaps, but Ross has managed 19 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery in his short career thus far. And there’s this video of him from voluntary workouts this year that’ll have you surrendering your lunch money:The Cowboys added Christian Covington earlier in free agency Dak Prescott Jersey , who figures to rotate with Antwaun Woods at the 1-technique spot. Then they drafted UCF’s Trysten Hill 58th overall and signed UDFA Daniel Wise of Kansas, both of whom are athletic 3-techs who were misused in college. The DT room seems crowded now, but Ross was very valuable in his minimal role last year. Don’t be surprised if he beats out a guy like Covington or pushes Wise to the practice squad. RB Darius JacksonSo, the Cowboys went ahead and drafted not one but two running backs in the draft. Memphis’ Tony Pollard figures to be used more like Tavon Austin, seeing reps as a runner, jet sweep option, and as a receiver, but Ohio State’s Mike Weber is a more traditional running back who can serve as Ezekiel Elliott’s main backup. Add in fullback Jamize Olawale, and it seems like the Cowboys have their four running backs for the final 53 set in stone. But in the words of Lee Corso: Not so fast, my friend! Darius Jackson is liked by the Cowboys coaching staff - he’s currently on his third stint in Dallas. Despite being waived by the team twice before, he’s always found his way back. He saw extensive action in the Week 17 game last season against the Giants, although his 16 yards on six carries wasn’t great. Still, Jackson has familiarity with the team that could help him out. Remember, this time last year we all assumed Bo Scarbrough was a roster lock. Pollard and Weber aren’t safe yet, and Jackson could still surprise us. LB Chris CovingtonThe Cowboys may be planning to send out the trio of Sean Lee, Leighton Vander Esch, and Jaylon Smith in their base packages in 2019, but don’t be surprised if second-year player Chris Covington starts seeing some action. A sixth-round pick out of Indiana last year, Covington made the roster but was much of the year. That’s mostly because until his sophomore year in college, Covington was playing quarterback. While he was named the team’s Defensive Player of the Year as a senior Xavier Woods Color Rush Jersey , Covington is still learning the position. Given his unique skill set, Covington can be coached up in just about any way the staff sees fit. They likely want to see him blossom into their SAM linebacker in base packages, given that Smith and Vander Esch seem to have the MIKE and WILL spots, respectively, locked down for the foreseeable future. Joe Thomas and Justin March-Lillard are the top reserves, but Dallas might look to get Covington on the field for a few snaps to see his growth. CB Donovan OlumbaThe Cowboys didn’t surprise anyone when they took a cornerback in the draft, and Miami’s Michael Jackson offers more than some lame puns (although I will continue to make said puns, because I’m bad). There is some very legitimate reason to be excited for Jackson’s future, although he won’t be free of a competition for the fifth cornerback spot on the roster. Donovan Olumba was on the practice squad last year and his frame has a lot to do with that. Olumba is 6’2” and 205 pounds with 32 7/8” arms, and his ultra-competitive attitude made him a pet cat for some last season. Olumba is back and has a year of experience in this defense, something Jackson doesn’t. It’s possible the Cowboys decide to keep six corners on their roster, but if they go five, it might come down to Olumba and the rookie from Miami. WR Cedrick Wilson Jr.The Cowboys didn’t draft a receiver, though they did sign two UDFA’s in Jalen Guyton and Jon’Vea Johnson. They also held onto Tavon Austin and brought in Randall Cobb to replace Cole Beasley. Add in Allen Hurns, Noah Brown, and Lance Lenoir and it’s a crowded room. But don’t forget about second-year player Cedrick Wilson Jr., though. A sixth-round pick last year from the Cowboys’ favorite school, Boise State, Wilson is the son of Cedrick Wilson Sr., a receiver who played for the 49ers and Steelers and won a Super Bowl. The younger Wilson came into the league with great athleticism and versatility to play all three wide receiver positions. Early on , he was impressing coaches with his route running abilities, but tore a shoulder labrum in training camp. It was starting to look like Wilson could become a minimal contributor last year before the injury. While the Cowboys will likely feature Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup alongside Cobb, Wilson has an opportunity to earn some snaps in the passing game as well - and don’t overlook his potential in the return game, too. DE Dorance Armstrong Jr.There was no position that Dallas paid more attention to this offseason than defensive end. On top of extending DeMarcus Lawrence, they traded for Robert Quinn, signed Kerry Hyder, and drafted both Jalen Jelks of Oregon and Joe Jackson of Miami. Randy Gregory’s status is still unclear with his suspension, but it seems like there is very tough competition for Taco Charlton and Dorance Armstrong. Armstrong was a fourth-round pick out of Kansas last year and was, at one point, expected to be involved to a modest extent in the pass rush. But the return of Gregory foiled that, and Armstrong saw limited snaps, logging just 13 tackles and half a sack. Armstrong flashed some promise, especially as a run defender, but clearly it wasn’t enough to deter the team from drafting more defensive ends. Still, Armstrong will get a full offseason in the strength and conditioning program, which is vital to linemen. That and the indefinite unavailability of Gregory might help Armstrong emerge somewhere on the defensive end rotation behind Lawrence and Quinn.
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