More time for the Cowboys to get rest is always welcome.
That list runs the gamut of some of the Raven’s best players, including reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins and pass rushers Calais Cambell and Matthew Judon.
The Ravens have had 22 players test positive or be identified as a high-risk contact, prompting them to put 20 players on the league’s reserve/COVID-19 list. As it stands right now, there are only 38 players on their active roster – though a few may be able to return in time for Wednesday’s game against the Steelers.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys now have an 10-day layoff between their loss to Washington on Thanksgiving and their next game. Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy spoke Friday about giving his players some extended down time in the event of a re-scheduled game, though it seems unlikely he foresaw the matchup being moved all the way to Tuesday.
Hopefully the extra time off will help them handle the challenge ahead. The shuffle also means the Cowboys’ Dec. 13 game against the Cincinnati Bengals will come after just four days of rest.
Can’t the Cowboys go one game without an injury to this group?
Left tackle: Tyron Smith (2 games), Brandon Knight (4 games), Cameron Erving (5 games)
Center: Joe Looney (7 games), Tyler Biadasz (4 games)
Right guard: Zack Martin (8 games), Connor McGovern (3 games)
Right tackle: Terence Steele (9 games), Zack Martin (2 games)
To recap, that’s seven different starting combinations in 11 games, and most of those groupings haven’t featured the franchise’s cornerstone tackles. Smith has been on injured reserve since Week 5 due to neck surgery. Collins, the projected starting right tackle in camp, has been on IR all season with a hip injury that required surgery. Both are expected to be ready for the start of next season.
The line also continues to be without rookie center Tyler Biadasz, who showed promise in four starts before injuring his hamstring in pre-game warmups Nov. 8 before the Steelers game and landing on injured reserve.
Despite all that, it seemed like the Cowboys had found a winning combination just four days before Thanksgiving. Against Minnesota, the coaching staff started Martin at right tackle for the first time in his career and inserted Connor McGovern, last year’s third-round pick, at right guard.
Team Tanks is ascendant.
So with the division safely out of reach, Team Tank is now fully in charge, and one game on the remaining schedule looms large for a potential draft spot: the week 14 game against the Bengals. Not only because it is the only remaining projected win on the schedule, but also because the Bengals are a direct competitor for a Top 3 pick. Per Tankathon, the Bengals are currently in line for the third overall pick, one pick ahead of the Cowboys.
Which pick the Cowboys ultimately end up with depends in part on their own performance, but it also depends in part on how the Jets, Jaguars, and Bengals play down the stretch. Can we realistically expect those teams to win any more games this season? Fivethirtyeight has the answer:
If you were hoping for the Cowboys to move into one of the top two spots, you can forget about that; the Jets aren’t going to win three of their remaining games, and the Jaguars aren’t going to win two of their remaining games either. The two teams are locked into the top two spots. Which leaves the Bengals as the main competitor for the third overall pick, with a showdown coming in the all-important Week 14 matchup with the Cowboys.
See you then, Team Tank!
The best roster in the division in last place?
“I like to think there’s a lot of football left,” first-year coach Mike McCarthy said. “We all clearly have been part of this (injury) pattern and the pattern’s been one way. And I’m hopeful and will be grateful when it turns the other way. I don’t kind of just throw in the cards. I think you line up and play every hand to win and we’ll do that against Baltimore.”
Already without starting tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins almost the entire the season because of injuries, Dallas lost two replacements on the opening drive against Washington. Zack Martin, a four-time All-Pro right guard who moved to right tackle to help fortify the line, aggravated a calf injury and will miss multiple weeks, along with Cam Erving, who exited four plays earlier with a sprained knee. Barring further injury, two undrafted players in Brandon Knight and Terence Steele figure to be the starting tackles the rest of the way.
Sticking with the philosophy of drafting the best player on the team’s board worked well. The Cowboys didn’t expect receiver CeeDee Lamb to be there at No. 17. They grabbed him despite having greater needs elsewhere and feeling good about their top two pass-catchers in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Lamb was the first receiver in NFL history to catch at least five passes in each of his first six games.
It’s about time we started seeing these mocks.
4. Dallas Cowboys: Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami (FL)
Rousseau had an incredible 2019 season at Miami, recording 15.5 sacks and 54 tackles in 13 games. He opted out of the 2020 season, but it probably won’t hurt his stock. Jerry Jones has never met a pass rusher he didn’t like, and the Cowboys could certainly use the help on defense.
Donovan Wilson is finally getting his chance.
2. Donovan Wilson, S
Perhaps fans of the Cowboys have finally had their prayers answered with the ascension of safety Donovan Wilson this season. Wilson is just the latest sixth-rounder to attempt to be the defensive playmaker that this team has desperately needed for years.
Posting 53 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and forcing three forced fumbles as a seven-game starter so far this year, Wilson’s play has many scratching their heads as to why the Cowboys opted to start Darian Thompson ahead of him for the first four games of the season.
The reality is the Cowboys have deemed the safety position as one they can underinvest in and still get middling production from. And perhaps players like Wilson and Xavier Woods have proven them to be right.
It now appears that the hard-hitting Wilson will be the favorite to start next season and potentially replace Woods in Dallas, another former sixth-rounder who’s set to become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.
Last year, Wilson flashed his playmaking ability as a rookie recording three interceptions in four preseason games. His play in his second year has only continued to promote the storyline that the Cowboys may have unearthed another late-round gem and potential star defender in 2021.
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