The 2-0 Dallas Cowboys look to maintain momentum in their Week 3 visit to Arizona. Which individual players are trending upward ahead of the meeting with the Cardinals, and which players could face some trouble in Sunday’s game?
The season-ending injury to Trevon Diggs certainly sent a shockwave through the team. Losing a player of his magnitude affects everyone, even on offense. But while it’s a blow to the Cowboys overall, some players still stand to benefit from the increased playing time and changes that Diggs’ absence now presents.
But while huge, Diggs’ injury is still only one factor to consider in this week’s analysis. What about the Cardinals’ strengths and weaknesses, or their own injury report? Let’s take it all in and see which Cowboys are helped and hurt by the current circumstances.
S Donovan Wilson
After missing the first two weeks with a lingering calf injury, Wilson is now participating fully in practice and set to make his 2023 debut. It couldn’t come at a better time after the Cowboys lost their best playmaker in the secondary, plus having Jayron Kearse missing practice due to illness. Kearse should be okay for Sunday but having Wilson back to bolster the rotation will be most welcome.
While Arizona QB Josh Dobbs has yet to throw an interception this year, he has fumbled three times and should give Dallas’ defenders opportunities to make some highlights. Wilson was one of the Cowboys’ most explosive players last season and an impactful return will do wonders to help soften the blow of losing Diggs.
QB Dak Prescott
While he did draw heavy praise for his play against the Jets, Prescott has yet to register a big game statistically. The Cardinals could present him with a good opportunity, having just surrendered 321 yards and two touchdowns to the Giants’ Daniel Jones a week ago.
Arizona has two starting defensive linemen injured this week in NT Leki Fotu and former Cowboys DE Carlos Watkins. With Tyler Smith also set to debut in Week 3 for Dallas, an already stout offensive line is only getting stronger. This should allow Prescott to pick the Cardinals apart and hopefully see bigger plays against a less formidable defense than the Jets fielded last Sunday.
CB Jourdan Lewis
The Diggs injury will allow Lewis to move back into a firm top-three spot among the corners and into his best role in the slot, with DaRon Bland now going outside. Lewis is a steady tackler for a cornerback and has been a ballhawk in his own modest right, both of which could be factors against a run-focused and conservative Cardinals offense. He should get plenty of work in the middle of the field and help stop the run, whether it’s Dobbs or RB James Conner carrying the ball.
TE Jake Ferguson
Over the first two weeks, Washington’s Logan Thomas and New York’s Darren Waller had a combined 10 catches for 119 yards against the Cardinals’ defense. That could be a great sign for Ferguson as he still awaits a big game since becoming Dallas’ starting tight end. While not as much of a priority target as Thomas or Waller in his own offense, Ferguson could get good looks as Arizona focuses on stopping the red-hot CeeDee Lamb and a returning Brandin Cooks.
RB Tony Pollard
Arizona’s run defense has been stingy to the featured backs, holding both Saquon Barkley and Brian Robinson to under 4.0 yards per carry. While novelty plays from guys like Deuce Vaughn, KaVontae Turpin, or a running Prescott could yield dividends, Pollard may be in for a low-production day on the ground.
Cardinals RB James Conner is averaging nearly 4.6 YPC and is a punishing runner. Throw in Dobbs’ mobility and it could be a long game for Leighton Vander Esch and Damone Clark. Despite the run-heavy offense from Arizona so far this year, the leading tacklers from both opposing defenses have both been safeties rather than linebackers. That, plus Conner’s solid average, is a sign the Cardinals are doing a good job of blocking and neutralizing the second line of defense.
WR Michael Gallup
A slow start to 2023 is unlikely to pick up this week for the veteran receiver. With only two catches for 13 yards thus far, Gallup probably won’t see many targets in Arizona. The game could be lopsided quickly, limiting opportunities for the entire passing game. With Cooks returning and Jalen Tolbert coming off a solid outing against the Jets, Gallup’s share of targets is unlikely to see a jump even if there’s a more voluminous air attack.