Anticipation rises with every passing day as both the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins await their week seventeen meeting. With the game moved to prime time the stakes become higher and higher. Win and you’re in; lose and you get to watch a division rival play into January. What else can fans ask for?
As Cowboys fans watched their team come down to the wire last week against the New Orleans Saints you had a feeling week seventeen was going to be huge regardless of the outcome of the overtime contest.
It seems like the way the Cowboys’ season has gone to date a do-or-die finale is the only fitting final week scenario. Considering the Cowboys were sitting at 3-5 not too long ago, fans are happy there is any type of a chance at the playoffs.
As we sit back and analyze the Cowboys’ improbable climb back to contention there are two players in particular who are probably looking at the current situation Dallas is in, and are grateful they are even on the field.
Dwayne Harris and Alex Albright have risen to the point of making considerable contributions to this year, and look to make an impact come Sunday in Washington.
Harris was the fourth receiver on the depth chart for the majority of the first half of the season. With Kevin Ogletree occupying the third receiver spot on opening night, most people had forgotten about him. Considering how well Ogletree played opening night no one would have ever expected Harris to make this much of an impact on the field. Despite the depth chart position, Harris has worked his way to the point of being a safety blanket for Tony Romo; not to the same degree as Jason Witten is, but Harris finds his way to open space easily and possesses the type of balance needed to get the extra yards the Cowboys desperately need on a weekly basis.
Albright has worked his way on the field in a different way than Harris has. With injuries to opening day starters Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, the Cowboys have been in desperate need of inside linebackers that are fast and can get from sideline to sideline. Ernie Simms has been somewhat serviceable although he suffered a concussion that was the primary reason Albright was able to get on the field. Along the same lines, Dan Conner has look out of place at times and doesn’t seem to be as athletic and quick as Albright is. Someone needed to step up and make an impact.
No one on the roster will compete for a starting spot when Lee and Carter are healthy. Both players are firmly entrenched in as the starting middle linebackers for the foreseeable future, but as a rotational player, Albright has a real future with this team. He has a similar speed/strength/instinct combo both Lee and Carter possess, just not to the same degree. He is able to play coverage and with both Lee and Carter on injured reserve, and no one else really standing out, has made the most of his opportunities.
It may be a little early to predict what kind of future both of these players will have in the NFL, but for right now they are they are playing well on a team that has been plagued by injuries and lack of production from key players. Come Sunday night look for both Harris and Albright to step up and help the Cowboys get back to the playoffs.