When a 6-1 team meets an 0-8 team, there’s always the potential for a blowout. While we don’t want to assume too much about the Cleveland Browns and how easily the Dallas Cowboys will handle them today, there’s no denying that the game could be very one-sided.
If Dallas has a comfortable lead in the second half, could it be an opportunity to let some of their young prospects and other backups get some playing time? Here are a few guys who have been waiting for their opportunity.
Darius Jackson, RB
Dallas has carried Jackson on the active roster all season but have yet to make him active for a game. Even while Lance Dunbar has been out with a knee injury, Jackson has remained in street clothes while Rod Smith served as the number-three running back.
With Smith now off the roster and Dunbar just coming back from the injury, perhaps this is an opportunity to get Jackson into the game. The rookie probably still has some concerns when it comes to pass protection and other duties, but it would be nice to see him with the ball in his hands.
It also doesn’t hurt to let Ezekiel Elliott and Alfred Morris get some extra rest before facing the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Mark Nzeocha, LB
The second-year linebacker has been out with an Achilles injury but has returned to practice. After flashing his talent during the preseason, it would be nice to see what Nzeocha can do in a real game.
In the 2015 NFL Draft, Nzeocha’s fell to the seventh round because an existing knee injury and a general lack of experience. A native of Germany, he played both safety and linebacker at Wyoming. He is a highly athletic linebacker, which fits well in Dallas’ scheme.
Kavon Frazier, S
Frazier has only dressed for a few games this year and hasn’t been used much even then. With Barry Church hurt and J.J. Wilcox now starting, he is closer to playing time than ever before.
Now the number-four safety while Church is out, Frazier will almost certainly be active today. While you hate the risk of giving up a big play in garbage time, it would be nice to see the sixth-round rookie in action. After this year’s draft, he and Anthony Brown were put in the same category by Stephen Jones as guys who they had fourth-round grades on.
After seeing how well Brown’s played this year, it makes me all the more curious about what Frazier can do.
Gavin Escobar, TE
The backups tight ends only get so much work with ironman Jason Witten head of them. Geoff Swaim has at least been in as a blocker and had a few looks as a receiver.
Escobar has disappeared from the Cowboys offense. The former second-round pick hasn’t even been targeted in the passing game. In fact, I’m not sure if he’s even been on the field yet.
Witten has earned every bit of rest he can get in his 13th season. Swaim would obviously get the majority of the work if Witten sits, but it’d be nice to give Escobar a few looks as well. If nothing else, give the guy some game footage he can take to next year’s free agency.
Mark Sanchez, QB
Pulling the starting quarterback is one of the grand traditions of one-sided games. With Tony Romo’s return imminent, this may be Sanchez’s best chance to get in some game time as a Cowboy.
Romo’s health will be a red flag for the rest of his career, meaning everyone on the depth chart needs to be ready to play. If Romo goes back out, then Sanchez is just one more injury away from being the Cowboys’ starting QB. I’d like for him to have thrown a pass or two before that day comes.