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Cowboys News & Notes: Will Murray, Free And Martin Be Able To Play?

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Plus a few more chances to gloat. Just because.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Let's start with the important stuff, injury news.

Jerry Jones believes Doug Free plays Sunday | FOX Sports

The owner and general manager admits there are concerns, and that the injury will probably affect Doug Free for as long as the Dallas Cowboys play this season. Jerry Jones still thinks that Free will be able to contribute this week.

"I have every reason to believe by the time Sunday gets here, we'll have time to get him out there and get some play out of him," said Jones.

Free And Martin Both "Day-To-Day" After Suffering Ankle Injuries Sun. | Dallas Cowboys

The focus has been on Free because he is more in doubt, but Zack Martin also was hurt. The way he handled it in the immensely satisfying win over the hated Philadelphia Eagles, in front of their frequently classless fans, has the team more optimistic about him.

"Zack was just fantastic," Garrett said. "He hurt that ankle early on in the game and just kept playing and fought through it, really a tough, tough individual, really mature guy. I thought he handled that situation well."

Asked about it after the game, the rookie was slightly more understated in his evaluation of the injury.

"I twisted it, and we'll see how it is. But I just taped it up and got back to it," Martin said.

Sources: Cowboys optimistic DeMarco Murray plays against Colts | FOX Sports

The well-connected Mike Fisher gives a rundown of the plan going forward for DeMarco Murray to determine if he would be an asset or liability against the Indianapolis Colts.

While the Cowboys will publicly note Murray as a "game-time decision'' for the Colts, the team will actually get a feel for his availability during the practice week, according to a source. They'll work through concerns that include his ability to grasp the ball with his left hand (even though he prefers to carry it with his right), to catch passes out of the backfield and to pass-block.

Eddie Lacy offers up case study for DeMarco Murray injury - ESPN

The Cowboys have already used a college player's experience this season in evaluating an injury. When Tony Romo had the transverse processes broken in his back, they looked to Baylor's Bryce Petty, who only missed one week after the same injury. Now they are using a possible model for Murray.

If the Cowboys need to find a running back to have played through a fractured fourth metacarpal then Eddie Lacy is a case study. He broke his hand while at Alabama playing against Western Carolina. In the next two games against Auburn in the Iron Bowl and Georgia in the SEC championship game, Lacy carried the ball 38 times for 312 yards and four touchdowns. 

He had surgery after the Georgia game before the Crimson Tide played Notre Dame in the BCS Championship.

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Bob Sturm’s Decoding Linehan: Dez Bryant’s big night proves Cowboys’ running game did its job | Dallas Morning News

The Sturminator dissects the offense from the beautiful beatdown of the Eagles. He looks at how the Cowboys have gotten their mojo firmly back in place, and how nearly identical the two long TD passes to Dez Bryant were. All of this is part of the way the Cowboys' offensive coordinator approaches things, which Philly ignored at its own peril.

In fact, I even heard noted media minds yesterday suggest that the Eagles shut down the Cowboys offensive line and "give Murray fits". Well, I will file that away with discussions that Jason Witten is having a horrible year because his yardage is way down. I think both of those opinions miss the entire point of [the defense] that faces Scott Linehan every week. The object of his game is to put points on the board by utilizing whatever pieces he must to do so. End of story. Not to prove he can run the ball or that he can pass the ball or that he can make sure Witten supplements your fantasy team with the proper amount of points. If he needs Murray to set the Eagles up for a kill-shot over the top or Witten to run a decoy pattern to free Dez of the safety, then there are no isolated stats that prove it or credit them, but the offense has absolutely benefited from the whole operation to make those plays possible.

Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys prove mettle on vital scoring drive - NFL.com

Everyone is trying to figure out why the Cowboys are not having their traditional end of the year collapse. There are a lot of elements contributing to that, but their star wide receiver may have hit on one of the biggest.

"Truthfully, before the season even started, we felt different," said receiver Dez Bryant, who was virtually unstoppable with three touchdowns and 114 yards on six receptions. "The biggest thing is, we stay together, we play together. We're more of a family. We respect one another and we try to bring out the best in each other. That's the difference."

FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | Clutch Encounters: Week 15

Just wanted to include this paragraph from their breakdown of the delicious defeat of those Eagles.

Sanchez suffered back-to-back sacks, giving Chip Kelly a tough decision on fourth-and-25 at his own 15 with 3:17 and two timeouts left. He punted, of course. Now, I am not sure anyone would have expected Kelly to go for it there, but if he won't, then no one coaching right now will. It's a tough call since there isn't an optimal play for this down and distance. You're basically hoping for a cheap penalty. If the Eagles had failed to convert, Dallas was nearly guaranteed another three points, but that wasn't a huge deal. By punting, you almost guarantee you'll need an onside kick later, though with the Eagles staring a win probability of 0.01 in the face even before the punt, the whole thing is a longwinded way of saying the Eagles were pretty ****ed after those sacks.

Now that's analysis!

Jerry Jones' expectations have evolved this season - ESPN Dallas

If most Cowboys fans had been given a chance to guarantee ten wins this season in August, they would have jumped on it. The expectations for the team were pretty dismal. Now that they are there, with two games left, most people are not satisfied. Including Jerry Jones.

On his Tuesday appearance on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Jones wasn't ready to say the Cowboys' season has been a success whether they make the playoffs or not. 

"We have a team that's good enough not only to be in the playoffs but, in my mind, advance in the playoffs," Jones said. "Now that we know that, now that we've seen it evolve into that, I do want to see what it can do in the tournament. I'm pretty positive about how we're playing and if we can continue to potentially get a little better - which I think that game in Philadelphia will make us better - and if we continue to have those types of experiences and minimize the health issues, the injury issues, then I'm not ready to say this is a good season no matter what."

"Experts" predict the Dallas Cowboys season | Star-Telegram

Just wanted to point out that one guy felt confident this team could get this far.

Cory Magoers, 105.3 The Fan host: 10-6

And it is worth a giggle to go back and see how very, very wrong the rest of the "experts" were.

Jerry Jones proud Cowboys are number one most valuable franchise again | FOX Sports

Yes, he is not just filthy, stinking rich. He is filthy, stinking, ridiculously rich. But his priorities are still straight.

"Do you think that will help us get another first down against Indianapolis?" Jerry Jones remarked on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM] Tuesday.

Here is all you need to know about playoff possibilities for this week.

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Some Cowboys are getting some notice for their work both on and off the field.

26 NFL players named to USA Football's 2014 All-Fundamentals Team | Youth Football | USA Football | Football's National Governing Body

Rookie guard Zack Martin continues to make his pick in the first round this year look absolutely brilliant as he makes this list.

NFL announces 32 nominees for Walter Payton Award - ESPN Dallas

DeMarco Murray is Dallas' nominee for this award, won in 2012 by Jason Witten.

Named for the late Hall of Fame running back, the award recognizes a player's community service and performance on the field.

Each team nominates a player, and the NFL Foundation donates $1,000 to a charity of his choice.

NFL.com - GMC Never Say Never

Tony Romo was nominated, largely on the strength of the eight play drive to retake the lead for good after the filthy birds had gone ahead. Go there now. Vote early and often.

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And finally, there is a new winner for best name on the team.

Cowboys make practice squad move - Dallas Cowboys Blog - ESPN

The Dallas Cowboys signed linebacker Mister Alexander to the practice squad, filling the vacancy created when defensive end Kenneth Boatright was called up to the active roster last week.

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Get your picks in for the BTB Pick 256 Challenge!

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If you haven't yet submitted your picks, now would be a good time. Here's the link to the entry form.

If the link above doesn't work for whatever reason, use the following alternative, which does not autofill your BTB user name into the entry form.

Alternative Pick 256 Entry Form

As of this morning, we only had 70 votes logged, so lots of regulars still haven't posted their picks. In eraly voting, the Cowboys are favored over the Colts, with 92% of the picks coming in for the Cowboys. Clinching the division early doesn't look to be in the cards for the Cowboys, as the Eagles currently have 75% of the vote over Redskins.

Follow me @TomRyleBTB