Monday, December 2, 2013
A Cowboys primer for December
By Calvin Watkins
Following Monday night's game between Seattle and New Orleans, NFL teams will have four games remaining in their seasons.
We give you a quick primer on the Dallas Cowboys' road to the final four.
Injuries: Sean Lee and Justin Durant are expected to practice in some fashion this week as they recover from hamstring injuries. Will they play against the Chicago Bears? It's uncertain, but Lee is gunning for the Monday night contest. Lance Dunbar is out for the season with a left knee injury. Dunbar didn't believe it was serious when he suffered a hit to the knee in the Oakland game, but it's clear he's done. Morris Claiborne didn't sound too confident about his status for the Bears game. He's missed three games this season due to a hamstring injury. Expect another week for Claiborne.
December and Romo: Tony Romo is 11-15 lifetime in December, however he went 3-2 last season in the NFL's final month. How Romo plays in December could determine the Cowboys' playoff fate. Last season he started December with 10 touchdowns and just one interception. Then he threw three picks with two touchdowns in the regular-season finale at Washington -- a game the Cowboys' lost.
Roster spots: The Cowboys have signed numerous players to the defense due to injuries along the line and secondary. The Cowboys most likely will have an available roster spot, on the 53-man roster, should they place Dunbar on season-ending injured reserve. Expect the team to workout some players this week in case they need a lineman or a running back. There is an open spot on the practice squad with quarterback Alex Tanney off to Cleveland. The team plans on filling it most likely with a quarterback.
Old friends: The Cowboys will see Martellus Bennett and Jay Ratliff of the Bears on Monday night and if you thought Mike Jenkins held a grudge against the Cowboys, just talk to Bennett and Ratliff. Bennett, the tight end, underachieved with the Cowboys but the team didn't exactly know how to use him. Ratliff, a defensive tackle, was a powerful force along the line, but injuries and a dispute over the type of surgery he needed made for a messy divorce.
Ware and double-digits: DeMarcus Ware has led the Cowboys in sacks for eight consecutive seasons but with just five on the year, and trails team-leader Jason Hatcher (nine sacks) heading into the final month. The last time Ware finished a season in single-digits was 2005, his rookie year, when he shared the team lead with Greg Ellis with eight. Ware has battled nagging injuries all season and is dealing with a balky thigh muscle that saps his strength at times.
Jason Garrett's status: Jerry Jones said Garrett will remain the coach in 2014, but it's hard to believe the man if the Cowboys fail to make the postseason in 2013. The Cowboys have never missed the playoffs four consecutive seasons under Jones' ownership. However, the last time the Cowboys missed the playoffs at least four consecutive seasons was 1986 to 1990, which spanned two different coaches, Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson and two ownership groups, Bum Bright to Jones.