Cowboys 2021 rookie report: Dallas gets a good look at their young guns in Week 18
The Cowboys’ 51-26 win over the Eagles to end the regular season was unique in a few ways. First was the fact that it took place on a Saturday night, and the uncertain impact it could have on the team’s seeding added to that feeling.
Despite Mike McCarthy very clearly honoring his word and playing the game to win, the Cowboys were still without quite a few players, mostly on defense. When things effectively ended in the third quarter, McCarthy pulled the rest of his starters too. That meant a lot of time for the rookies we usually don’t see as much of. So how did they do?
Micah Parsons, LB
Micah Parsons didn’t travel for this game because he was on the COVID-19 reserve list. He’s expected to be back in time for the playoffs.
Kelvin Joseph, CB
With both Trevon Diggs and Anthony Brown not playing in this one, Kelvin Joseph got to make his second career start. He ended up playing every single defensive snap and led the team in tackles with nine. Just as he did in his first start, Joseph displayed some nice physicality and closing speed.
It wasn’t a perfect day for the rookie. He let a sure interception bounce off his hands and into the hands of an Eagles receiver on the first drive. Joseph also got burned by fellow rookie DeVonta Smith on consecutive plays running the same route. But Joseph is still very green, and his limited exposure on defense this year has been promising on the whole.
Osa Odighizuwa, iDL
The Cowboys are a bit thin along the interior of their defensive line right now, and that meant Osa Odighizuwa still had to play a sizable amount of snaps in this one. His 42 snaps on defense led the Dallas interior linemen in this game, which was a change from Odighizuwa’s reduced role in recent weeks.
Odighizuwa had three tackles in the game and managed to create some pressure, but Philly’s run-heavy offense neutralized Odighizuwa and the other big boys. He played reliably against the run, though, which will be an important trait for the Wild Card round against the 49ers.
Chauncey Golston, EDGE
The Cowboys didn’t want to risk DeMarcus Lawrence or Randy Gregory anymore than they had to in this game, and that meant a healthy portion of snaps for Chauncey Golston on the edge. His 33 snaps were third-most among Dallas edge players, behind Tarell Basham and Dorance Armstrong. He finished with two tackles on the day.
Nahshon Wright, CB
Nahshon Wright received his first career start at cornerback, playing opposite Joseph. He joined his fellow rookie in being the only Dallas defender to play 100% of the snaps in this game. That’s some valuable experience for the rookie, who until now has been proving his worth almost exclusively on special teams.
Wright’s debut wasn’t quite as good as Joseph’s, though. He finished the game with four tackles, but gave up quite a few receptions. Wright was always considered more of a project in coverage than Joseph, and he’s had less experience playing on defense this year, so that shouldn’t be a surprise. The good news is that next week he’ll go back to his special teams role, where Wright has been excellent.
Jabril Cox, LB
Jabril Cox is on the injured reserve with a torn ACL.
Josh Ball, OT
Josh Ball is on the injured reserve.
Simi Fehoko, WR
Simi Fehoko remained inactive for this game, largely because Dallas planned on playing their starters a fair amount.