During training camp QB Tony Romo stated "We obviously need a few young guys to step up and help this football team out this year." While most agreed, not many believed.
After 10 weeks its the young guys, rookies in particular that have been somewhat of the saving grace for this 2011 Dallas Cowboys team. Due to injuries, poor play, and uncertainty the rookies have been called on to step up, and boy have they.
More on the rookies after the jump...
Heres a look at the impact and roles these rookies have played in keeping the season afloat and with a positive outlook.
At this point I am almost running out of words to say about this guy. He has been maybe the steal of the draft to date.
An injury to Felix Jones propelled the 3rd round pick into a bigger role. And that may have been a blessing in disguise. Following Sundays 44-7 romp over the Bills, Murray rushed for at least 130 yards for the 3rd time in 4 games. Add in the fact he has went over 160+ total yards in the same span, sensational would almost be understating his impact. He leads all rookie running backs in the NFL with 674 rushing yards.
Murray has lifted this offense to new heights amidst a bunch of injuries on that side of the ball. His emergence has made everyone around him look better. The Offensive line has suddenly become very good on the ground despite its struggles early in the season. The Qb has been nothing less than great when Murray carries the ball 20+ times throwing 7 TDs to 0 INTs with a win loss record of 3-0. And the defense has given up 7,13, and 7 points by Murray keeping the ball in the offenses hands. If there was a second half MVP its not even close who it is on this team.
Tanners lasting image as a Cowboy to date wasn't even during a real game. This rookie back became a fan favorite after his Witten like run with no helmet play. While the TD was called back the image lasted in Cowboys fans for ever. He eventually made the 53 man roster, and due to poor play by Choice, gained enough trust by the coaching staff to replace him as the teams #2 back while Felix was out. His numbers are not eye opening but his hard play, tough attitude and physical running ability is.
Given Tyron Smith's circumstances he has performed very well in his first season as a Cowboy. He entered the league as its youngest player (20), with no off season, and playing one of the most important positions on offense at RT. He started off the year brilliant, then went through a rough stretch as a rookie would, but has come back on to play very well. He is one of the book end tackles blocking for a team averaging 177 rush yards since inserting Murray as the lead guy. Also helping keeping Romo clean as he and the O line have held teams to zero sacks 3 times this season, which is a good thing since Romo is 28-9 as a starter when being sacked 1 or fewer times. There is a possibility he may move to LT next season but right now he has solidified the right side and has erased all memories of Marc Colombo.
Or Dan The Man as I like to call him. He has been MONEY this season to date. Slowly creeping up on the franchise all time consecutive made FGs currently at 22. Before the season there were many questions at what to do at kicker. Jerry decided to go with 2 keeping Beuhler as the kickoff specialist. Maybe more impressive than Bailey's made FGs this past Sunday is his 6 touchbacks. Making it even harder to keep Beuhler next season if Bailey keeps this up.
While the jury is still out on Bruce due to his knee injury and being on the PUP list to start the season, there hasn't been anything alarming to be too concerned about. He will continue to be acclimated into the base defense as the season goes along. Many believe he has to due to his athletic ability and pass coverage that Brooking and James lack. He could become a key defender heading into the difficult stretch to end the season.
These rookies have certainly made an impact on this team and provide a bright outlook on the future. So far not too bad of a draft for first year head coach Jason Garret. But there is still more work to be done and still more opportunities for these rookies to make an even greater impact. As Romo stated we will need these young guys to step up, but so far they are earning their stars.