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Cowboys news: Rest or rust? Cowboys focused on winning finale in New York

With nothing to gain, certain Cowboys will get their rest but a few others would rather keep it going and beat the New York Giants.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Dak: ‘I Want To Play,’ Keep Momentum Going - Rob Phillips, Dallas Cowboys
There is nothing else to gain for the Cowboys who are locked into the fourth seed but Dak Prescott just wants to keep momentum going against Giants.

“I want to play,” he said after Thursday’s practice. “I don’t know about this ‘not playing’ stuff, but we’ve got momentum that we’ve got to keep going. I think Coach said it before that momentum is huge. It’s a big thing in this league and that’s what it’s about. It’s a team that gets hot. So I think it’s important for a lot of us guys to get out there and play and keep it going.”

The ‘not playing stuff’ is the annual external debate regarding playoff teams who have the option to rest players before the postseason. Garrett has reiterated for days that healthy players will play in Week 17 at New York (5-10).

Dak Prescott explains his approach to the Cowboys' regular-season finale against the NY Giants - David Moore, SportsDay
Prescott gives further reasoning why he wants to play.

Prescott played only one series against Philadelphia two years ago when the Cowboys were in a similar position in Week 17. That team had a first-round bye and came out sluggish and fell behind early in a divisional round loss to Green Bay.

”I think that’s what you can turn to as a reason on why we should play and how important it is that people just keep their feet moving and stay active,’’ Prescott said of Sunday’s game.

And what is his motivation to play in a game with nothing at stake?

”This is what I do,’’ Prescott said. “I’m motivated enough to go out there to put my best effort on tape.

Dak Prescott wants to build momentum in finale & his OC Scott Linehan agrees with the QB - Clarence Hill, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Scott Linehan backs up his QB about playing on Sunday.

Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan also looked back with regret. He said not having a bye this team helps as they playing the following week, justifying the need to stay sharp even more.

”There was a long time between the last time we played until the first playoff game,” Linehan said. “You can argue that is better to keep playing. Maybe the best way to look at as we don’t have a bye. We keep playing and stay on schedule. I think that can work in our favor.”

“We want to maintain momentum as a team playing it’s best football in the second half of the year,” Linehan said. “For us, we see a huge upside in playing the game the same way. It’s important to continue playing winning football. We are getting close to the tournament. Other than this week, you got to win to advance. You have to have that mentality.”

Dallas Cowboys hot topic: Who plays for how long against the Giants? - Tom Ryle, Blogging The Boys
Time to decide between sharpening the edge and protecting the blade. Who should play in a meaningless game and who needs to rest until wildcard weekend?

According to owner/GM Jerry Jones, they have already decided that Zack Martin will sit out the game to give him more time to heal his sprained knee. Connor Williams will fill his place at right guard.

That compromised line will put quarterback Dak Prescott at more risk, and will mean that running back Ezekiel Elliott will likely have less room to work. Given the obvious importance of keeping your passer healthy and the already huge workload Elliott has had, that alone argues for limiting the number of plays those two have. It is highly unlikely that either would not see some time in the game since the offense has had a lot of issues this season and more work would be beneficial. But it seems blatantly unwise to have the two linchpins of the offense on the field much at all in the second half.

Cowboys' coach Jason Garrett approaching finale as a 'normal week' - Todd Archer, ESPN
There's no playoff positioning on the line when the Cowboys take on the Giants, but Jason Garrett said anyone who is healthy will play.

“This idea that you have a whole other team, we’re not going to play the starters, we’re going to play the backups, logistically, you can’t do that,” Garrett said. “The numbers don’t allow you to do that. We’re going to play our football team. Anybody who is healthy is going to play in this ballgame and play to the best of their ability. Our focus is on preparing the right way and then go play the right way and hopefully that will give us the best opportunity the following week in the first round of the playoffs.”

Amari Cooper knows risk of playing starters in meaningless games, former team lost QB before 2015 playoffs - Stefan Stevenson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Amari Cooper remembers losing Derek Carr in week 15 when the Raiders had already locked up AFC West. It doesn't stop him from wanting to play vs. Giants.

Even still, Cooper says the Dallas Cowboys (9-6) can’t worry about that at noon Sunday against the New York Giants.

“It’s football,” Cooper said. “You have a 99 percent chance of getting hurt anytime you go out there on the field. It’s just a question of when are you going to get hurt.”

Most importantly, Cooper said, injuries seem to happen when players are playing not to get hurt. The Cowboys will host either the Seattle Seahawks or Minnesota Vikings in the wild card round on Jan. 5 or 6. Nothing will change whether Dallas wins or loses against the Giants (5-10).

“That’s usually when you go out there and get hurt because you play kind of timid,” he said. “It’s something about going out there thinking you’re going to get hurt and play a little shy and you just get hurt for some reason.”

To sit or to start? Troy Aikman weighs in on Week 17 debate about key Cowboys players - Staff, SportsDay
Cowboys Hall-of-Fame quarterback Troy Aikman was asked about this young Cowboys team and if they need to play in the finale to get offense on track.

Aikman: ”I don’t know that experience always plays into it, although that certainly is a factor. I felt like even if you go back to the preseason and what the Rams did resting all their starters, their key guys, and yet they came out rolling to begin the year. And everyone thought, ‘Wow, what a great decision Sean McVay made.’

”And then for Dallas, they rested some guys and didn’t play for a few weeks, and came out really struggling through the first part of the season, and couldn’t get anything going. So, I think it really is from club to club into how that’s determined.

Why is David Irving still on the Dallas Cowboys' roster? - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Short answer:

Although Irving has played in only 10 games over the last two seasons, he has eight sacks during that stretch. It appears the Cowboys are holding out hope that he can potentially return during the playoffs and make a similar impact.

"He's a guy that makes a difference when he's healthy," Stephen Jones said last Friday on 105.3 The Fan's Ben and Skin show. "He's got to get everything in the right place, his health, the works, if he is going to help us. But as we've all seen David do, he can make game-changing plays. We certainly feel like he could do that for us. He's just got to continue to work hard to get himself ready."

Scott Linehan says WR Tavon Austin can 'give us a big jolt in the passing game' - Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay
Austin will suit up for the Giants game.

Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said Austin gives the Cowboys another offensive weapon that defenses have to worry about ahead of the playoffs. In the first meeting with the Giants in Week 2, Linehan pointed out, he had a 64-yard touchdown on his first catch as a Cowboy. The threat means as much as anything, as Austin totaled seven catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns and rushed six times for 55 yards before his injury.

"Tavon has the unique ability of making big plays with not playing every game," Linehan said. "He's a guy that goes in there, he's going to feel like a guy with fresh legs on the field. ... He looks like a guy that's ready to go out and give us a big jolt in the passing game with his threat, being able to get downfield. ... He's going to be a guy we can put in at any receiver position to help us have potential for some explosive plays."

If Opportunity Knocks, Darius Jackson Will Be Ready - Nick Eatman, Dallas Cowboy
The final game may not matter in regards to playoff position but it certainly matters to backup running back Darius Jackson, who says he’s ready.

“It matters to me. It matters to a lot of guys,” Jackson said. “It’s an NFL game. … It’s a blessing. If my number is called, you best believe I’ll be ready.

Oh, yeah. I’m always ready when called upon,” Jackson said. “Depending on how much Zeke plays, but me and Rod [Smith] are ready as always to take advantage of those reps if we get them.”

Considering the road Jackson has traveled over the last three seasons, he has no other option but to keep himself ready to play.

“Yeah, it’s been kind of crazy,” Jackson said, “but I’m here now. And this is where I want to be.”

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