When the Dallas Cowboys take on their NFC East divisional rivals on Thursday night, here are three defenders fans should be watching.
If the Dallas Cowboys are going to have any chance of making the playoffs, their Thursday night, primetime battle against the Washington Redskins is a must win. Arguably, every game for Dallas from here on out is a must win, but let’s take things one contest at a time.
The Cowboys have already defeated the Redskins once this season, a 33-19 victory in Washington back in Week Eight. But this is a very different Dallas squad, particularly due to the absence of running back Ezekiel Elliott (suspension) and veteran linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring).
With those differences in mind, here are three Cowboy defenders I believe every Dallas fan should be watching closely when the two teams battle it out on Thursday Night Football.
Jaylon Smith, Linebacker
With both Lee and veteran Justin Durant (concussion) already ruled out for this matchup with the Redskins, the onus of the linebacker play will be on second-year phenom Jaylon Smith. His performance becomes that much more important considering fellow linebacker Anthony Hitchens is questionable for the matchup due to a groin injury.
Chidobe Awuzie, Cornerback
The Cowboys second round selection out of Colorado could make only his second NFL start against the Redskins on Thursday night. The rookie defensive back has been hindered by a hamstring injury for most of the year, and has now been seemingly promoted to the starting role with Anthony Brown being benched for his poor play.
Maliek Collins, Defensive Tackle
After a stellar rookie season, the Cowboys third round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft is having a down year in Dallas. The once quick defensive tackle has all but disappeared while everyone around him has excelled. Collins hasn’t recorded a sack since Week Three. If there were any game for him to get off the Schneid, facing this beat-up Redskins offensive line is likely the one.