The Dallas Cowboys opened the season with the lessons of a lost 2015 firmly etched in their mindset.
No longer would they be concerned with players who are not healthy and ready to go.
No longer would they plan a season contingent on getting guys back healthy as they did last season when they lost quarterback back Tony Romo and receiver Dez Bryant for long stretches en route to a 4-12 finish.
The lessons served the Cowboys well as they overcame the early loss of Romo with arguably the greatest next-man-up move in team history in the emergence of rookie quarterback Dak Prescott, who has led them to a 13-3 record and a spot in Sunday’s NFC Divisional playoff match-up against the Green Bay Packers.
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The Cowboys are heading into playoffs as healthy as they have been all season with a number of other injured guys returning to action against the Packers.
That list includes cornerback Morris Claiborne, defensive ends Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence and defensive tackles Terrell McClain and Cedric Thornton.
Every active member of the Cowboys roster participated in practice all week.
It all has the Cowboys believing they are a better team now than they were in the middle of the season when they ran off a team-record 11 consecutive wins.
“I believe we are,” vice president Stephen Jones said. “I believe we should be as good as we have been all year. We should be better. We have everybody ready to go. You can say there is some rust on some of them, but are you kidding me, we’ve got them. Let’s go play. The guys who have missed some time, they have played. They know what it takes. They are accountable. We know they will be ready to go.”