The number of days until the Dallas Cowboys begin the 2019 regular season is almost in single digits, and the team will complete their final preseason game on Thursday night. The time for setting a Week 1 roster is nearly at hand.
There is the business of cutting down the roster to the required 53 players, and that will happen over the weekend. There is also the process of determining other player’s eligibility, especially among the injured. Amari Cooper and Tyron Smith, among others, are players who have sat out significant stretches of training camp/preseason. There are also recently returned players like DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones who are shaking off injury rust so they can participate in the season-opener against the Giants. The Cowboys front office and the players themselves seem to believe that they will be ready to go for Week 1.
For example, when Amari Cooper was asked if he could be effective Week 1 with his foot injury, he said:
“Real effective. I mean I played with a lot of foot injuries. High ankle sprains. All those things, so I’m pretty good at playing with foot injuries. But I don’t think I’m going to have to play with it.”
“I’m not worried about it at all, because I know if it does linger, it doesn’t matter,” Cooper said. “I had 1,000 yards when I played on plantar fasciitis before.”
Cooper sounds 100% that he will play Week 1. But there are two guys whose presence for Week 1 seem to be in doubt. One is Ezekiel Elliott. His hold out continues on with no end in sight. Even Jerry Jones seems resigned to the fact that Zeke could miss time.
Another player who seems a little uncertain about Week 1 is Zack Martin. He’s been out for quite a while with back problems, always a tricky situation. Above we mentioned Amari Cooper being sure he could play through his injury, but when Martin was asked about his status recently, he gave a more circumspect answer.
“My goal is to be out there for every game this season,” Martin said following Tuesday’s practice at Ford Center. “Knowing that my teammates can count on me week in and week out, I take great pride in that. That’s something that I’m working to get back to.”
That’s far from a “yes, I will be back for Week 1.” When pressed further, Martin said:
“I think we’ve executed the plan well and we’re putting ourselves in the best position to be out there each week,” Martin said. “I’m definitely better now than I was in Oxnard a month ago.”
Maybe Martin is better than he is letting on, but there is no declarative statement about playing Week 1 in any of that.
Martin did speak about the other player who might miss some time, Zeke. Martin was asked about the running back being gone and he chose to compliment the player who would replace Zeke if he doesn’t sign before the games begin, while also noting they, of course, want their All-Pro back, back.
“Listen, we’re preparing for the season. We’re going to play with what we’ve got. And what we’ve got is a damn good back in Tony Pollard,” Martin said. “Obviously you want (Zeke) out here but we’re preparing to get ready for Week 1.”
Which brings us to our poll question. Which player is more important for the Cowboys early on?
We all know what Zeke can do. But the question is how much of a drop-off will there be with Tony Pollard and company? It’s really hard to know because we’ve only seen Pollard in preseason games where he has looked fantastic. How would he fare in the real thing? As has been proven over and over in the NFL, running back is the easiest position to replace in pro football. Inexperienced backs burst onto the scene every year. Additionally, Dallas has the ever-reliable Alfred Morris in case of emergency. Would the Cowboys offense still function well with Pollard (and others) instead of Zeke?
If Martin is missing, the Cowboys could turn to Joe Looney, Xavier Su’a-Filo or Adam Redmond. Is that a more precipitous drop-off than the Zeke situation? Not only would that affect the running game, but keeping Dak Prescott upright and safe could be jeopardized. Replacing All-Pro linemen is hard, but at least those guys have some experience.
So who is more important to the Cowboys fortunes Week 1? Zack Martin or Ezekiel Elliott?
More important for offensive success in Week 1?
This poll is closed