La’el Collins didn’t practice all last week but played against Washington and did a fantastic job on Ryan Kerrigan. He won’t practice on Wednesday of this week as he’s battling a bulging disk in his back.
Collins said that he's dealing with a "slight bit" of trouble with a bulging disk but that he won't need surgery. He said this is the first time he's had a back injury.
"They're doing a great job just helping me through this right now because it's of course a little tough," Collins said. "We're going to get through it."
Collins said playing a division opponent helped last week, because even though he didn’t practice, he already knew Washington's personnel, a similar situation to this week with the Giants.
While Collins is able to play through his injury, Orlando Scandrick might not be able to play with his fractured transverse process bones in his back. This would shake up the secondary again, but at least Dallas is developing some players back there.
Despite the injury, Scandrick spent a large portion of last week’s game playing outside at cornerback, as the Cowboys limited Kirk Cousins to 251 passing yards and forced him into two interceptions.
A big part of that was the solid play of Chidobe Awuzie, who made three tackles and broke up three passes in his season debut on the outside. It was Awuzie’s first career start and his most meaningful action in a season that has been limited by injuries, which came as an unlooked for boost for the Dallas defense.
One guy who might be seeing a very limited role in the secondary is Byron Jones.
With all these young guys we're trying to get these guys in the right spot. I don't think Byron's best spot is down in the box with the tackling. I do think Kavon does that probably better than anybody we have on the team.
And so as we move forward, we've gotta find all the right places for these guys. One of the things Byron is extremely good at is manning up on the tight end. He's got great length, great jumping ability, really can match up well with tight ends, especially those tight ends people like to use as mismatches against teams' personnel.
This week would certainly qualify as a week to use this specialty coverage ability as the Giants bring Evan Engram to the game.
Speaking of mismatch tight ends, we won’t get a look this year at the one the Cowboys possibly have on the roster.
It’s seemingly been a foregone conclusion to all close observers that tight end Rico Gathers would not play for the Dallas Cowboys in 2017.
But vice president Stephen Jones made it official, regarding the former Baylor basketball star who has been on the injured reserve list since suffering a concussion in training camp.
Jones said Gathers will remain on the reserve list and start fresh with the Cowboys next season.
Jones went on to make it clear that Gathers is in their future plans, they just don’t think he would have the time to catch up this year and make an impact.
The Cowboys will be wearing a color combination on Sunday that they’ve never, ever worn before in the history of the franchise.
The Dallas Cowboys will unveil a new color combination for Sunday's game against the New York Giants.
The Cowboys will wear blue jerseys with white pants for the first time ever.
The Giants are wearing their all-white Color Rush uniforms. The Cowboys do not have an all-blue Color Rush uniform.
So is Jason Garrett off the hot seat after the Washington win? Well, what happens on Sunday could have a big say in that.
Lose to a team that owns the second worst record in the NFL -- Cleveland again dominates this category -- and the same questions that surfaced after three consecutive losses by 20 more points will resurface with a vengeance.
Lose, and the Cowboys fall below .500 with three games left in the regular season. How engaged will the players be then as they await Ezekiel Elliott's return?
The Cowboys rookie draft class had their best all-around game last week. This comes after some definite struggles throughout the year.
Charlton has just two sacks on the season and many have questioned if he was worth the 28th overall pick. Awuzie has been hurt for most of the season. Lewis has been OK but he lost his job as the third corner with Woods moving into the nickel role against the Redskins and Orlando Scandrick remaining on the outside. Switzer had shown signs of life in the kick return game but his long punt return before the touchdown was 21 yards. Seventh-round pick Noah Brown has performed solidly as a blocker at receiver but has just three catches for 25 yards.
Maybe Thursday’s win over Washington will be the turning point for many of these rookies in their career.
For one week, the Cowboys offensive line was the cream of the crop again in the NFL. They have had issues with injuries and getting synced up, but they are getting it together for the stretch run of the season.
The Cowboys flexed their muscles in a desperate effort to keep their season alive by getting running back Alfred Morris going early and often on Thursday. There has been much chatter about Dallas' offensive struggles without Ezekiel Elliott -- consider that since Week 10, when Elliott's six-game suspension started, the Cowboys have averaged 125.5 fewer yards per game than they did with Elliott in the lineup. Of course, a lot of those troubles coincided with the temporary loss of left tackle Tyron Smith, who missed Weeks 10 and 11 with back and groin injuries -- those were Dallas' two least-productive games in terms of total offensive yardage this season. Against Washington on Thursday, in a game the Cowboys had to win, they pounded the ball and relied on strong performances by their perennial Pro Bowlers on the line -- Smith, center Travis Frederick and right guard Zack Martin. Dallas' yardage total (275) might seem rather pedestrian, but the team's rushing total (182 yards) reflects a ground attack that controlled the game and wore down Washington's defense, with 114 of those rushing yards coming in the second half. Morris had his biggest game as a Cowboy (and the fourth biggest game of his career, in terms of rushing yardage) with 27 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown (including 89 yards in the second half). Left guard Jonathan Cooper gave up the Cowboys' only sack of the game (he was credited with a pair of QB hits), but this group was Pro Football Focus' top-ranked run-blocking unit of the week -- notably, 50 of Morris' rushing yards came before contact, per PFF.
As mentioned above, Alfred Morris had a big day on Thursday, and has actually been doing pretty well over the last stretch of games. Could he get paid to leave Dallas in the offseason?
In his four games as the starting running back, Alfred Morris has 64 carries for 307 yards, which would put him on pace for a 1,228-yard season. Set to be an unrestricted free agent when the season ends, I wonder if any teams are noticing what he is doing and would make a play for him. Morris will be 29 next week but he has gone relatively unused in his two seasons with the Cowboys, which could refresh his legs after getting so much work in his first four seasons with the Washington Redskins. He could return to the Cowboys, but with Ezekiel Elliott carrying such a big load of the offense, Morris might want the opportunity to get more work as he enters his seventh NFL season.
Everybody is a little nervous about how all the changes in New York will impact the game.
Embarrassed by a 2-10 record, New York Giants owner John Mara felt wholesale changes needed to be made throughout the organization.
So the Giants fired general manager Jerry Reese and coach Ben McAdoo with four games left on the season. It’s the first time since 1976 season that the Giants haven’t started and ended with the same head coach.
It’s similar to when Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made a similar decision halfway through the 2010 season. Jason Garrett replaced Wade Phillips, marking the first time the Cowboys had a coaching change during the season, and the Cowboys responded by going 5-3.
And that first win of Jason Garrett’s head coaching career came against New York the week he was named the interim coach.