The Cowboys enter the 2014 NFL season with another win and get in scenario fresh on their minds. The Philadelphia Eagles won the NFC East last season by defeating the Dallas Cowboys in week 17, eliminating the Dallas Cowboys from the playoffs in the process. This is not a new feeling for the Cowboys as they have lost the last four games in week 17 and each one would have secured a playoff berth, NFC East championship, or both. The best part of September for NFL fans is that it brings new hopes and new faces. This writer has pointed out five players that normally wouldn’t be thought of has key players that need to step up for the Cowboys in order for them to make the postseason.
Terrance Williams 2nd WR:
Terrance Williams is a second year wide receiver out of Baylor University. Williams played his high school football career in Dallas at W. T. White High. He then went on to become a Baylor Bear standout before becoming a third round pick for his hometown Cowboys. This year he has a chance to shine in the city he was raised in.
Williams enters the 2014 season with a bright future. He took full advantage of his opportunities last season filling in for an injury ridden Miles Austin, having 44 receptions for 736 yards and 5 touchdowns. With Austin now with the Browns, Williams will enter the season as the second wide receiver and had a full offseason to prepare for the role. With Dez Bryant receiving a ton of attention by opposing defenses, Williams should have a lot of one-on-one chances to make a big play for the Cowboys. With the defense coming into the season weakened from offseason transactions and injuries, Williams finding ways to get open will be key to the Cowboys' chances to win games.
Tyron Smith LT:
The Cowboys' first round pick in the 2011 draft is coming into his fourth season with the Cowboys after his first Pro Bowl and new contract. The Cowboys signed Smith to an 8 year extension worth a total of almost $110 million dollars after only allowing one sack and having one holding penalty. Smith entered the league at age 20 and should be hitting his prime physically for the position at age 23. Keeping Tony Romo up right will be a key concern for the Cowboys with Romo coming off his second back surgery during the off season.
The Cowboys will put a focus on running the ball this season and Smith will be one of three first round offensive linemen they hope to do it behind. The Cowboys will play against the NFC West this season, and all four teams in the West have notoriously tough defenses that will prove challenging for the Cowboys' offensive line. Smith's play at Left Tackle may be the key factor to Dallas' ability to move the ball this season.
George Selvie DE:
Selvie is entering his fifth year in the NFL and his second with the Dallas Cowboys, and is coming off a 7 sack season in 2013. Selvie has big shoes to fill as he is expected to step into the same position the Cowboy great DeMarcus Ware left when he signed with the Denver Broncos this offseason. This makes Selvie's shoulder injury against the Dolphins this preseason even more concerning for Cowboy faithful. Selvie also has added pressure coming from DeMarcus Lawrence who the Cowboys drafted this year to compete with Selvie. Lawrence was injured early in camp and has been placed on the IR with designation to return. If Selvie struggles getting to the quarterback and stopping the run it could mean a very long season for a defense that was atrocious last season.
Morris Claiborne CB:
Claiborne was selected 6th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. Since then, he has struggled to find his way for the Cowboys. The former LSU Tiger was part of an outstanding LSU secondary and many had high hopes he could solve problems with the Cowboys pass defense. So far Claiborne has struggled to defend the pass, often getting either a holding or a pass interference call in crucial situations. With a defense thin across the board, he should get several opportunities to finally prove he is the player Jerry Jones thought he could be.
And last but not least,
Dwayne Harris WR/Returner:
Dwayne Harris is a playmaker, it's just as simple as that. He has become one of those players that you would really rather not kick the ball to, ever, if you could help it. He finished the 2013 season second in yards per return in the NFL. Harris has quickly become someone who makes Cowboy fans hold their breath each time the ball is kicked to him, waiting for the next time he breaks a big one and covers his visor in the end zone.
While the big kickoff returns are a huge factor to what make Harris so important, the biggest part of his game to look for his as a wide out. With Miles Austin gone Harris has a chance to fill in at the third receiver spot and contribute to the passing game in a bigger way then he has had a opportunity too before. Harris will compete with Cole Beasley for this chance, but Beasley has shown chemistry with Tony Romo before. Beasley, however, lacks the explosive big play ability that Harris has shown over the last couple seasons and that gives him an edge if he can show reliable hands. Harris can break out onto the scene in the NFL this season if he can take advantage of the opportunity he has.