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Dallas Cowboys Week 13 rookie report: Xavier Woods and Chidobe Awuzie primed to have larger role

How did the rooks perform on Thanksgiving?

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys fell to the Los Angeles Chargers on Thanksgiving Day in yet another ugly game. The offense still can’t get going, the defense cannot make the plays needed in important games, and the injuries (and suspension) have been too much to overcome.

It hasn’t been a fun few weeks for Dallas Cowboys fans.

With that said, how did the rookies look on Thanksgiving? Cooper Rush continues to be active, as he is the team’s lone backup quarterback behind Dak Prescott. Blake Jarwin made his professional debut against the Falcons, but has not played in the last two games. Other than that, though, every other rookie hit the field on Turkey Day!

Taco Charlton

Despite being a first-round selection, Taco Charlton has not really done anything all season long that warrants getting excited about. Sure, he brought down his first career sack against Alex Smith and the Chiefs, but that is probably the most worthy thing he has done thus far.

Taco was stiff armed to the turf against the Eagles and was completely held out of the box score on Thanksgiving Day. It takes a while for a defensive end to reach their potential, but it has been disappointing to see Taco struggle so much with the season now nearing its end.

Chidobe Awuzie

Chidobe Awuzie caused a lot of excitement when he was selected. Some of that was because of Drew Pearson’s legendary introduction, but also because Chido played all over the defense during his days in Boulder for the Colorado Buffaloes.

Unfortunately, we fans have yet to really see what he can bring to the table. He showed flashes against the Giants in week one, but the rookie has been dealing with nagging hamstring injuries dating back to fall camp. He has been in and out of the lineup, has missed some games, and has really struggled to stay on the field whenever he goes into a game healthy.

Awuzie played on special teams against the Chargers, but his role might be upgraded tomorrow night against the Redskins.

Here’s hoping Chido is healthy enough to take full advantage of the opportunity that has been presented to him.

Jourdan Lewis

We say it every week: Jourdan Lewis is the best rookie on the Dallas Cowboys.

The third-round selection has played like a first-rounder for the better part of this season. He grabbed an interception against the Broncos in his first career start; he showed off impressive open-field tackling versus Larry Fitzgerald and Todd Gurley; he wasn’t even targeted once when the Cowboys hosted Kansas City. Needless to say, JLew has had a helluva year.

Lewis did have a mistake on Sunday that may or may not have been a result of the sunlight flashing in AT&T Stadium on Thursday afternoon. The first-year corner went up for an interception, only to miss out on the turnover.

Nonetheless, with the reports that Anthony Brown will no longer start at corner, it appears as if the Cowboys are continuing to invest in their rookie stud defensive back.

Ryan Switzer

Ryan Switzer has had an up-and-down season. Switz arrived to the Cowboys with high expectations due to his historic success at returning punts in the college game, unfortunately he has made his fair share of rookie mistakes — most notably his muffed punt that changed the momentum of the Rams game.

Over the last few weeks, though, Switz looks to have regained his confidence. He has a pair of solid kickoff returns against the Eagles on Sunday Night Football, including one that he brought back into Philadelphia territory on the opening play of the game.

Switz picked up where he left off in the return game, returning four kicks for an average of over 25 yards per attempt. His longest of the day was an impressive 33-yarder. I am excited to see how Switz continues to learn and develop back there.

Xavier Woods

Xavier Woods appears to be the second best member of the 2017 draft class for the Dallas Cowboys. The rookie out of Louisiana Tech has made a name for himself in the secondary. One of the Cowboys’ biggest highlights of the entire season to this point was his diving interception against the Atlanta Falcons a few weeks back.

Woods led all of the rookies on the Cowboys in tackles against the Chargers. The young, active safety recorded four total tackles on Thanksgiving — all of which were solo. Woods now gets to prove that he can be counted on since he and Awuzie will have expanded roles on Thursday Night Football versus the Redskins.

Noah Brown

Noah Brown has had a solid rookie season for the Cowboys, given his role. The seventh-round selection not only made the 53-man roster, but the former Ohio State Buckeyes receiver has been active for nearly every single game in 2017.

Brown did not record any stats last Thursday, but he continues to be a big-bodied blocker — a crucial element for a team that wants to get the run game going.

Lewis Neal

Lewis Neal was suiting up for the LSU Tigers last season, but the rookie has played very well along the defensive side for the last three weeks since being called up from the practice squad.

After hitting Matt Ryan and being involved in the backfield in his professional debut three weeks ago, Neal has continued to play well for the Cowboys. On Thanksgiving, the first-year defensive lineman recorded two total tackles, two solo tackles, and a tackle for a loss on Turkey Day versus the Chargers. Neal had the second most tackles for a defensive lineman on Dallas last Thursday — only behind Demarcus Lawrence — and continues to look comfortable for Rod Marinelli.

I’m excited to see Neal develop.

Which rookie has excited you the most, BTB?

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