And that raises an interesting question. After the very strong showing by the starters, is there really any reason to risk any of them in the final two preseason games? It is hard to see just what else the team needs to see from any of them. Outside of perhaps the defensive line, the projected starters are all pretty much known quantities at this point. Maybe it is time to get out the bubble wrap and use the remaining preseason work to let the downroster players make their various cases for continuing in the NFL.
This made a lot of sense before Monday night, and if you were on the fence then you might be willing to completely cross over Tuesday morning. Why’s that you ask? Only because the NFL world took a collective breath when a certain New York Giants wide receiver had an injury scare.
If you do this in a pre-season game, you should be suspended for the ENTIRE REGULAR SEASON. pic.twitter.com/f67pxykqqB— Don Van Natta Jr. (@DVNJr) August 22, 2017
Now whether or not you agree with the point of suspension is one thing, but we all agree that if you’re a Giants fan (that would suck so much) that at this particular moment you were in massive panic mode.
What made matters all the more scary for Big Blue supporters was that Odell Beckham Jr. wasn’t the only Giants wideout to exit the game due to injury. Brandon Marshall left, got an X-ray on his shoulder, and now this whole thing is just that - a thing.
Brandon Marshall said his shoulder is "sore" as he walked out of the locker room.— Dan Duggan (@DDuggan21) August 22, 2017
As this pair of injuries unfolded there was one thought on the minds of all football fans, “This is the worst possible situation for the Giants.” Keep in mind that Sterling Shepard, the third leg of their stellar trio and someone who had an injury scare himself not long ago, also fumbled on the night. It was a disaster.
This brings us back to Ryle’s initial point... what are the Dallas Cowboys possibly playing for this Saturday against the Oakland Raiders? Their starters have looked fantastic, they’ve avoided any disastrous-type injury, and they’ve already played a third preseason game so they can shake things up how they want to.
Imagine going through the Cowboys-level equivalent to what New York fans went through on Monday night. Imagine watching players of Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall quality go down, only to be kicked when you are down by the next-best guy fumbling.
You don’t have to try to hard to imagine, actually. This Friday will be the one-year anniversary of the Dallas preseason game in Seattle from a year ago. The Cowboys literally lost their franchise quarterback Tony Romo in that game... do we want to roll these dice again? We were just given a recent reminder of exactly what you can lose, we’re at a one-year mark of what we did lose, and we want to chance it again?
Of course, the always-lurking incentive to play is more of what everyone needs - repetitions. This is a preseason game against a Super Bowl-caliber squad in the Raiders, it’s a chance to really see what you’ve got... but, again, do you really need to?
If there’s any point of the current roster that needs time and an opportunity to prove something, it’s the depth behind the established starters. Wouldn’t it be great to see Kellen Moore or Cooper Rush against Khalil Mack? It sure would be nice to see one of the rookie cornerbacks trying to line up with Amari Cooper. This is what we should be focusing on.
A traditional line of “logic” always befalls situations like this when they’re brought up for debate. It’s a tale as old as time, as commonplace as “laces out.” When you propose resting players to avoid injury you will absolutely get one response of, “This is football. You can’t coach scared.”
This isn’t coaching scared. This is careful calculation, risk assessment, and understanding both what does and does not make sense. This is logic.