- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas -- One of the more productive players for the Cowboys this season has been backup nose tackle Josh Brent. In the Philadelphia Eagles game on Sunday night, Brent forced a fumble of running back Bryce Brown, leading to cornerback Morris Claiborne to return the fumble 50-yards for a touchdown.
Claiborne's score sealed the game for the Cowboys, giving them a 38-27 lead at the time, but it was Brent's play that led to it.
Out of 28 snaps on Sunday night, Brent had two tackles, faced constant double-teams and of course forced the fumble. Brent is getting extensive playing time with Jay Ratliff out with a groin injury for the second consecutive game.
"He’s really matured as a player," coach Jason Garrett said of Brent. "He’s been a spot player for us in the past, a handful of snaps here and there in each of the ballgames, but because Ratliff has been out for a large part of the season, he’s played a lot more. He’s matured a lot. That can happen with players. You give them an opportunity to play more and some guys expose themselves and some guys rise up and become better players and prove to you that, ‘Hey, I can be a starter in this league.’ I think he’s shown that."
Brent has position flexibility because he's also played some defensive end because of injuries to Sean Lissemore and Kenyon Coleman. But with Ratliff out mainly, he's missed a total of six games because of injuries, Brent's value has risen with the Cowboys.
"He’s a natural nose tackle," Garrett said of Brent. "He’s a two-gapping nose tackle, that’s the body type, but he’s also a pretty good athlete. He can make plays from side to side. I think he’s grown every week. I think he’s taken advantage of the opportunity we’ve given him."