Most of the Dallas Cowboy players made their final trek of the preseason yesterday to Miami. Unfortunately, Tashard Choice was not one of them. The surprise announcement that Choice will not play in tonight’s final preseason game against the Dolphins only adds fuel to the rumors of his roster spot being in jeopardy. But could this move be an indication of a possible trade in the works?
The lateness of this news strikes a similar tone with the Audre Gurode incident from last week. Just before last Saturday’s preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings, the Pro Bowl center Gurode was held out of the game for what was called a “business decision”. It is believed that Gurode was actually held out due to concerns that an injury could affect his trade value. Two days later, Andre was released.
Unlike the Gurode situation, Choice’s absence is being blamed on an injury. Apparently, he has been dealing with a minor knee flare-up the last couple of days. It appears it was just enough of a concern that the coaching staff pulled the trigger on his playing time tonight.
It been a rough preseason for Choice as he missed the first two games with a calf strain. He just saw his first action of the preseason last week in the aforementioned Viking’s game. Although his stats show just 3 carries for 14 yards, he actually ran fairly well. The former 4th round pick from Georgia Tech had two long runs called back for penalties.
His absence in tonight’s game is either an excuse to bench Choice due to injury concerns affecting his trade value or just really bad timing. Either way, Choice is at least in danger of losing his spot on the depth chart. Rookie DeMarco Murray’s selection in the third round of this year’s NFL draft created an instant competition for the primary back-up position behind starter Felix Jones. And Murray will have ample opportunities tonight to prove why he’s the right “choice” for the job, instead of Choice.
The drama of the final preseason game is fueled even more by statements made by GM and Owner Jerry Jones. Jones claims the team only intends on keeping three running backs on the final roster.
That means this is the last chance for running back Lonyae Miller to compete for that third roster spot and finish out his preseason on a high note. Miller’s outstanding play early on in camp was applauded by the Dallas coaching staff. Also in the mix is running back Phillip Tanner. On Tuesday, Head Coach Jason Garrett praised Tanner for capitalizing on his opportunities and said he was impressed by him.
If you don’t remember Tanner, he had this terrific helmet-less touchdown run that was called back in the Cowboy’s preseason game against the Chargers:
But let’s not forget, this is only the preseason. And players who look good during this time don’t always translate that play well when the games actually count.
Personally, I’m not sure Dallas is willing to let a rookie running back, playing in only his second game ever, come in and block for their franchise quarterback. Of course, Dallas is willing to start the season with three rookies on their offensive line…um…doing that exact same thing. And they did let Andre Gurode go because he got “pushed” out of his roster spot by a younger player. The fact is, under Coach Garrett, no veteran is safe. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.