By Shawn Lealos
The Dallas Cowboys are in the perfect position to play the Eagles in Philadelphia in their final regular season game of 2016. They have a first-round bye and home-field advantage through the playoffs. They played their starters last week against the Detroit Lions and watched Tyron Smith go down with an injury. After that scare, the Cowboys will probably rest most of their starters in this final game, giving their injured players a chance to recover.
Tyron Smith’s Injury Causes Concern
The Dallas Cowboys have said that Tyron Smith will be fine when it comes to the playoffs. However, there is almost no chance that he will play against the Philadelphia Eagles after spraining his right knee against Detroit last week. The Pro Bowl tackle guaranteed that he will be back for the playoffs, but the Cowboys will have to go one more game without his protection on the blind side of the quarterback. That is important, because Dak Prescott will start the game—giving him a chance to break the NFL record for most wins by a rookie quarterback—and Dallas wants him protected.
There was also word that Jerry Jones didn’t want to play Tony Romo because the Cowboys owner said he didn’t want to risk Romo behind an offensive line that was not at 100 percent. The coaches seem to have gotten their way and ESPN reported that their sources say that Romo will play some in the season finale. Dallas needs to protect Prescott and Romo for the playoffs, so they will play Mark Sanchez the majority of the game.
Cowboys Defense Resting Key Contributors
The Philadelphia Eagles will play this season finale with a strong chance to win, and the Cowboys injury report indicates a major reason why. On offense, the Cowboys will only play players like Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten sparingly. On defense, they are shorthanded from the start, with huge names listed as out and questionable for the regular season finale.
Sean Lee, who ranks second in the NFL with 145 tackles, will sit out the final game, as will fellow veteran linebacker Justin Durant. Defensive linemen DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Terrell McClain and Cedric Thornton were all ruled out as well. To understand the significance of those losses, McClain is the leading tackler on the defensive line, followed by Crawford. The defensive line should still have solid talent in Jack Crawford, David Irving, Maliek Collins and Randy Gregory, but the depth is not there.
Philadelphia Eagles Injuries
Jordan Matthews remains the best wide receiver on the Philadelphia Eagles team, but there is a chance he won’t play in the season finale. Matthews has been dealing with an ankle injury and sat out of practice on Thursday before returning to the field on Friday. With nothing to play for but pride, there is no reason for the Eagles to risk further injury to Matthews, although he will have the entire offseason to recover. He is listed as questionable and will probably start anyway. Linebacker Jordan Hicks is also hobbled with an ankle injury and is questionable for Sunday.
Dallas Cowboys Injury Report
- (CB) Anthony Brown (Concussion) — Limited Participation in Practice
- (DE) Jack Crawford (Foot) — Limited Participation in Practice
- (DE) Randy Gregory (Abdomen) — Full Participation in Practice
- (G) Ronald Leary (Back) — Did Not Participate in Practice
- (OLB) Sean Lee (Knee) — Limited Participation in Practice
- (T) Tyron Smith (Knee) — Did Not Participate in Practice
- (CB) Morris Claiborne (Groin) — Did Not Participate In Practice
- (DE) Tyrone Crawford (Shoulder/Hamstring) — Did Not Participate In Practice
- (LB) Justin Durant (Elbow) — Did Not Participate In Practice
- (DE) DeMarcus Lawrence (Back) — Did Not Participate In Practice
- (DT) Terrell McClain (Ankle) — Did Not Participate In Practice
- (DT) Cedric Thornton (Ankle) — Did Not Participate In Practice