FRISCO, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys will play their second game in four days on Thursday, but we still have Five Wonders, even on a short game week.
Away we go:
With Darren McFadden practicing this week, I wonder if the Cowboys take the full three weeks to add him to the 53-man roster. McFadden missed the first 10 games of the season while on the non-football injury list because of a broken elbow this spring. With the way the roster is constructed, there really isn't a need for the veteran back at the time. By taking the full three weeks, the Cowboys can hedge their bets on an injury to one of the three runners they have used this season in Ezekiel Elliott, Alfred Morris or Lance Dunbar. It's a cynical view, but teams have to be cynical when they are thinking of all the issues that can crop up during the season. McFadden ran for 1,089 yards last year without the benefit of a passing game of any note. He will have fresh legs and he could bring some help in the passing game if needed, but the sense is that this will be Elliott's show regardless of what happens.
I wonder if one of the concessions the NFL made in giving the Cowboys three games in 12 days was not only a noon kickoff in Week 11, but the Washington Redskins playing a night game Sunday. It certainly doesn't seem fair to the Redskins. In 2014, the Cowboys played a night game at the New York Giants, got home around 5 a.m. the next day and played the Philadelphia Eagles on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys lost on that Thanksgiving, 33-10, in what was their worst showing of the season. The Cowboys follow up their Thanksgiving game with a Thursday night affair at the Minnesota Vikings. It's quite a task for a team to play that many games in such a short time period when player safety is supposedly at the top of the NFL's mind.
I wonder when the Cowboys will record their next takeaway. It's up to three full games and 178 snaps dating back to Tyrone Crawford recovering a Wendell Smallwood fumble caused by Terrell McClain against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys didn't force a turnover against the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. Maybe it's an AFC North thing. Barry Church intercepted Kirk Cousins in the first meeting, a big pick in the end zone that kept the Cowboys alive, but Church is out recovering from a broken forearm. The Cowboys have had chances. At some point they have to start turning the opportunities into takeaways.
I wonder how the Cowboys will handle their free-agent cornerback situation. Can they keep Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne? A year ago at this time I probably wondered if either of them would be on the roster in 2016. Carr has been consistent and seems better suited to play the right cornerback spot. Claiborne was having his best season before he suffered a groin injury. Carr is older but has never missed a game in his career. Claiborne is younger but has never played a full season. Corner will be among the Cowboys' top needs either way but they could look to fill it in-house first.
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones offered no news on Rolando McClain's status because teams are kind of kept in the dark regarding a player's status in the drug program. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, McClain is looking at a year-long suspension after a recent violation of the substance-abuse policy. McClain has gone from four games to 14 to now a full season suspension. But Jones offered that whenever McClain is eligible to return to the Cowboys he will. Even if that comes in 2017. McClain's 2016 contract tolls if he misses the season, per rules of the collective bargaining agreement. But I wonder why Jones would want McClain? There's an allure because of his talent, but form Jason Garrett's terse answers regarding McClain it seems clear that he doesn't want him around. The players have lauded their chemistry and all-for-one attitude. At this point can Jones expect McClain to change?