Jason Garrett, wisely, has said that he does not view the remainder of this season as a personal audition. It is, of course, but attempting to move the media and fan focus off his future is nevertheless a good idea.
But for at least a couple of players, "audition" is neither inaccurate nor overstated. As of this posting, and as reported by my friends and colleagues on this site, Marion Barber will not play Sunday vs. the Colts. Felix Jones retains his "home run hitter" role, while Tashard Choice becomes the "utility man."
Full disclosure: Choice intrigues me, and has since his days at Georgia Tech (and even earlier at Oklahoma, for that matter). And from his first Cowboy training camp practice in '08, Tashard has displayed an uncommon versatility and a natural football aptitude. Choice "gets it" from an Xs and Os standpoint. He also has an evident love and enthusiasm for the game, as anyone who has ever heard his spontaneous war whoops at practice can attest.
Still, Tashard has been "odd man out" this year in the 'Boys' running back triumvirate, and at times seems to have genuinely fallen out of favor in the eyes of offensive coordinator turned interim head coach JG. Through eleven games, T-Choice has just 14 carries for 38 yards, including his first rushing TD of the year on Thanksgiving vs. the Saints that gave Dallas a short-lived 27-23 lead with six minutes left in the fourth.
After that tough loss, Choice publicly questioned why he hasn't received more playing time this season. He was answered, publicly, by the Big Boss. Jerry Jones stated that Choice's PT has been limited by sub-par special teams performances. Challenge issued. Seeing if TC accepts it will be one of the compelling story lines in Sunday's visit to Indy. As I stated in an earlier post, it seems to me that Choice's particular running and receiving skills could be particularly effective against the Colts.
If special teams play is what keeps a young player around, Kevin Ogletree needs to understand what's on the line for him Sunday. Ogletree has been activated, primarily because of the iffy ankle injury suffered by return man Bryan McCann. No one on the Cowboy roster has disappointed me more than has Ogletree. As a receiver, he was uncoverable--absolutely uncoverable--in his first training camp a year ago. No practice ended without Ogletree making at least one eye-popping play. As an undrafted free agent out of Virginia, Ogletree immediately displayed a natural route-running "feel" and the veteran-like ability to slow things down in his mind's-eye and make order out of seeming on-field chaos. His performance at Philadelphia last November--particularly in the WR quick screen game, had all of us expecting big things from Ogletree in his second season. His disappointing performance, and seeming lack of development, mirrors that of the 2010 Cowboys to date.