Dallas Cowboys

5 things to watch in Cowboys-Eagles game

One of the biggest storylines for the Dallas Cowboys heading into Sunday’s game against Philadelphia is which players will start and at what point in the game will the starters be resting on the bench.
One of the biggest storylines for the Dallas Cowboys heading into Sunday’s game against Philadelphia is which players will start and at what point in the game will the starters be resting on the bench. rrodriguez@star-telegram.com

Starters watch

The storyline all week has been how long coach Jason Garrett will play his healthy starters. Rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are healthy and ready to go, and the thought is to play them long enough to keep their edge going into the bye week. The same can be said for the rest of the team, even though this is an inconsequential game in terms of the postseason picture.

Sanchez or Romo?

If Prescott exits the game, there will be several eyes on who replaces him at quarterback. Tony Romo is the backup, but he has been injury prone in recent years. Neither owner Jerry Jones nor coach Jason Garrett would reveal Romo’s role for Sunday. Either way, third-stringer Mark Sanchez will likely see action should Prescott be pulled early.

Beat writers Clarence Hill and Charean Williams discuss the Cowboys regular season finale at Philadelphia. (Video by Drew Davison)

Record watch

It’s unlikely that Elliott will break Eric Dickerson’s rookie rushing record. He needs 178 rushing yards to do so, and it’s doubtful that the Cowboys will give him the necessary carries to accomplish the feat. But tight end Jason Witten has a more realistic chance to become the franchise’s all-time leader in receiving yards. Witten needs 27 receiving yards in order to break Michael Irvin’s mark of 11,904.

Lee’s first

Linebacker Sean Lee has never played a full 16-game season but is on track to do so this year. Lee is having an All-Pro caliber season and has worked tirelessly to put himself in position to play every week. It’ll be a nice accomplishment for Lee, who also saw a $2 million escalator kick in for his salary next year, as he has played more than 80 percent of the defensive snaps.

Defense matters

The defense has stepped up down the stretch and must continue to do so going into the playoffs. It has recorded multiple sacks and takeaways in each of the past four games, something it failed to do in the first 11. Even though the defensive line has been depleted with injuries and the Cowboys will be cautious with a few players, the defense can’t lose its momentum in getting to the quarterback and forcing takeaways in the finale.

Drew Davison: 817-390-7760, @drewdavison

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