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Cowboys news: It’s all on the line for three of the four teams in the NFC East in week 17

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NFL: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys at Giants final injury report: Dallas puts Justin Hamilton and Darian Thompson on COVID-19 list - Dave Halprin, Blogging the Boys

Both Cowboys and Giants dealing with COVID issues leading up to week 17.

It turns out they had to place two players on the COVID-19 list. Justin Hamilton and Darian Thompson will be out.

The Cowboys are expecting to practice on Saturday.

As for the rest of the injuries, the Cowboys will be without Leighton Vander Esch as expected. There also doesn’t look like a miracle recovery from Zack Martin for this week. Rashard Robinson has also been ruled out.

Ezekiel Elliott is a go as he’s stayed off the injury list. Chidobe Awuzie was also able to get himself right and should be a go. Donovan Wilson returned to practice and was a full participant. Xavier Woods is listed as questionable but coach McCarthy has made it sound like he’ll be able to play.

The Giants are dealing with their own COVID-19 issue.

5 Dallas Cowboys likely playing their last game in Dallas - Reid Hanson, SportDFW

It could be the end of the line for these five players wearing the star.

Tyrone Crawford, DL

Over the past few years Tyrone Crawford has been a cornerstone of the Dallas Cowboys defensive line. Though he never quite lived up to the expectations of his contract, he’s been consistently the second best lineman on the roster year after year.

Asked to rotate between DT and DE, Crawford has never been able to specialize in any one skillset or body-type, but he’s done what has been asked of him and has been a leader in the locker room.

At this point, Crawford is a shell of his former self and likely to flat out retire in the offseason. His contract is up and Dallas will be looking to get younger and stouter in the offseason.

More churn…

Chidobe Awuzie, Xavier Woods, and Noah Brown are all likely to be testing the market as well this winter. The Dallas Cowboys don’t seem particularly interested in offering multi-year extensions to them and fresh starts seem to be on the way.

Sounds Like DT Gerald McCoy is Part of Cowboys’ 2021 Plans - Jess Haynie, Inside the Star

Gerald McCoy could return in 2021.

One of the biggest signings by the Dallas Cowboys in 2020 free agency was veteran Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy. But while a major injury at the start of training camp McCoy’s season and led to his release, recent comments from Stephen Jones indicate that Gerald may still be part of the Cowboys’ plans for 2021.

McCoy was signed to a three-year contract which included an injury clause against a known problem with his quadriceps. And sure enough, Gerald’s quad ruptured during the first padded practice of Dallas’ 2020 camp.

The Cowboys exercised their right to terminate McCoy’s deal and save significant money on the salary cap. And despite this unfortunate situation, there was talk back in August of “mutual interest” between the two parties in Gerald returning to Dallas next season.

Yesterday in a radio interview, Cowboys executive Stephen Jones made a statement which seems to indicate Dallas is still interested in bringing Gerald McCoy back.

Jones included McCoy with players like Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, and Trysten Hill who are all under contract for 2021. Along with Dak Prescott, he spoke of all of these players as if their return next season was an expectation rather than a possibility.

Film room: 3 mismatches the Cowboys need to exploit vs. Giants, including NY’s pass protection conundrum - John Owning, Dallas Morning News

Exploit these matches according to John Owning.

Lawrence/Smith/Gregory vs. Fleming/Thomas

The Giants are going to have quite the conundrum in pass protection Sunday, as Cowboys edge defenders DeMarcus Lawrence, Aldon Smith and Randy Gregory present a significant mismatch for Giants right tackle Cameron Fleming and left tackle Andrew Thomas.

Do they send help to their weakest pass protector, Thomas — who has allowed the most pressures in pass protection of any offensive lineman this season, per Pro Football Focus — or do they use doubles and chip blocks to slow down Lawrence, who stays mostly on the offense’s right side and dominated New York to the tune of nine pressures and a sack in Week 5, as the Eagles did last week? Or do they just hamstring their own passing game by sending help in both directions?

Based on Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett’s history, I think we can all assume that the latter probably won’t happen, as he likes to maintain the integrity of the passing distribution instead of providing significant help to overwhelmed tackles (Chaz Green vs. Adrian Clayborn ring a bell?).

Having said that, it would be malpractice for Garrett not to, at least, send some help toward one of his tackles Sunday, just don’t know which one that will be. Either way, expect whoever is provided with a one-on-one matchup to win, and win often.

Washington gets 2nd chance to win NFC East at Philadelphia - Stephen Whyno, Washington Post

Will Washington end the Cowboys playoff hopes?

Who plays at quarterback is still unclear between 36-year-old starter Alex Smith and December practice squad pickup Taylor Heinicke, who was taking online college classes when he got the call. Top receiver Terry McLaurin is also questionable mark with an ankle injury that kept him out of Washington’s first chance to clinch the division, a 20-13 home loss to Carolina last week.

The challenge remains the same, only against an opponent motivated to play spoiler.

“We’ve got to have a no hat rule this week,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “We can’t let opponents put division win hats on at the Linc.”

Washington coach Ron Rivera has envisioned putting on NFC East champions garb since October when he benched Haskins — whom he has since released — to hand the No. 1 QB job to Kyle Allen. After Allen got hurt, the job fell to Smith, who hadn’t started an NFL game since 2018 when he broke his right leg.

Smith is 4-1 since taking over, and if he can play after missing the past two games with a strained calf in that leg that has a titanium rod in it, it’s a huge advantage for Washington.

“We all depend on each other,” Smith said. “Obviously, the quarterback touching the ball every play carries a lot of responsibility. A lot of people depend on you to go out there and make good decisions and be accurate with the football. That’s not something that I take lightly at all. For me, it’s a great responsibility and a great challenge.”

Garrett focused on Dallas, not on future with Giants - Rome Sentinel

(AP) — With a potential playoff berth on the line and, of course, the game being against the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett had no intention of talking about the future.

Garrett, who coached the Cowboys for a decade, sidestepped questions on Thursday about whether he was either getting any feelers about a head coaching job or what his status is with the Giants after one season in which the offense has struggled.

New York (5-10) ranks next to last in both offense and points scored (257) heading into Sunday’s game against Dallas (6-9).

It’s been a strange year. New York lost star running back Saquon Barkley with a major knee injury after two games and had to play with an offensive line that now starts two rookies on the left side and a guy playing center for the first time in his NFL career.

Still, the NFC East is up for grabs. Washington (6-9) can win the division by beating Philadelphia on Sunday night. If it loses, the winner of the Cowboys-Giants game wins the division.

The coincidence of Dallas and New York playing in a big game and Garrett facing his old team is not lost on the 54-year-old, who recently was sidelined by a positive COVID-19 test.

“Certainly, it’s interesting,” Garrett said before practice. “The circumstances are what they are, but we’re just excited to have this opportunity to be playing for potentially the division on Sunday. It’s been a funny year in the NFL, in the NFC East, all of that. You just keep trying to bang away and take advantage of your opportunities, and we certainly have a good one on Sunday.”

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