NFL Injuries: Injuries Have Forced Dallas Cowboys Into Youth Movement

By Ben Grimaldi
Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

I wrote the other day that with the Dallas Cowboys close to being out of the playoff race, I wanted to see some of the younger players get more playing time. It appears as though injuries are forcing the Cowboys hand and a bit of a youth movement.

Last week it was Jeremy Parnell filling in for the injured Tyron Smith at left tackle. He wasn’t perfect, but Parnell played well for a guy who’s had a limited amount of real game snaps and had very little time to prepare. Still, I want to see more from him. I am all for letting him start for Doug Free on the right side when Smith returns, which looks like it’ll be this week.

The Cowboys also got a nice look at a couple of young wide receivers in Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris. Even though Harris is a second year player, he didn’t see many snaps last year, and he’s done a good job this season with limited opportunity. Harris caught four passes for 71 yards while filling in for Kevin Ogletree and when Miles Austin was forced to leave the game.

Rookie Cole Beasley also put his playing time to good use catching seven passes for 68 yards. I’m hoping I wasn’t the only one who noticed Beasley being very difficult to cover and finding open spots in the defense. I’ve been waiting to see Beasley get more playing time and I wasn’t disappointed. I really like what he brings to the receiver position and I think he’s got a real future with the Cowboys.

This week another injury will allow the Cowboys to get a look at a rookie who hasn’t seen much playing time and it’s another player I’ve been wanting to see for a long time now, Kyler Wilber. The fourth round pick out of Wake Forest has only played nine snaps on defense all year and has recorded two tackles. He played outside linebacker in college but the injury to Bruce Carter left the Cowboys short in the middle, so Wilber has spent the week learning how to play on the inside.

“He’ll have his letter after this game,” defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. “We’ll put a big D on his shirt. I mean, the kid’s got to come through for us. These guys, it’s baptism under fire. He’s going to be fine. All of these guys have answered the call for us. We believe in everybody on our roster, and this young man is going to step up and do great.”

The part I like about that quote was “all of these guys have answered the call for us.” It shows when the Cowboys needed a player to step up, they have guys more than capable. That’s what I like to hear.

Look at some of the other young Cowboys players who have stepped up and played well this year because of injuries; Josh Brent, Danny McCray, Lance Dunbar and we can even include Bruce Carter, who was forced into a leading role in just his second year.

Taking it a step further, the Cowboys have gotten major contributions from young players who are the nucleus of this team. Players like Morris Claiborne, Sean Lee, Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant are all building blocks for the future. Add in solid developing players like Sean Lissemore, DeMarco Murray and Barry Church, were all playing well before they got hurt, so the Cowboys are moving in the right direction.

Sure it helps if they can stay on the field and it hasn’t happened for the Cowboys this year but they do have a solid group of good, young players. The silver lining, if you can find one, is that injuries have given the team a chance to evaluate some younger players who can help them in the future.

This isn’t the way we wanted the season to go but they say you have to accentuate the positives, well, I just did that for you.

you can contact and follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi

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