The Philadelphia Eagles have seen rookie quarterback Nick Foles turn into the biggest story of the preseason. Eagles fans like myself certainly need such a distraction to overshadow the rash of injuries, questions about Super Bowl capabilities, and the fact that Michael Vick got hurt enough times for Foles to emerge. But Philadelphia isn't the only NFC East team in need of a surprising breakout like Foles.
The Dallas Cowboys also need a new star to emerge and balance out injuries in a vulnerable position. While the Eagles' Achilles heel is at quarterback, the Cowboys are suddenly vulnerable at wide receiver, as Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are all recovering from injury. They need some kind of new receiver to fill in if they don't come back fast enough - and now they hope Dwayne Harris could be that solution.
Harris broke out against the St. Louis Rams on Aug. 25 by catching two long touchdown passes from Tony Romo. This was common from Austin, Bryant and Witten, yet this sixth-round pick from 2011 could have to step in for all of them - at least on opening night.
The Cowboys are counting on Austin and Bryant to heal in time for the Sept. 5 opener against the New York Giants, yet Witten and his lacerated spleen are more uncertain. If he can't play and if Austin and Bryant are rusty or get banged up again, Dallas will be in big trouble. Romo needs targets and the Cowboys need an early statement after losing the NFC East in Week 17 last season - and seeing the Giants win the Super Bowl right afterwards.
Dallas needs a healthy receiving core just like Philadelphia needs a healthy quarterback, yet in both cases, unknown youngsters have filled in admirably during the preseason. However, since Harris is a wide receiver, he will have more room to actually play when the games counts. But on the other hand, with Vick's history of injuries, it is considered a given that Foles could see a good deal of time too.
With Vick scheduled to come back for the season opener, along with Austin and Bryant, Harris and Foles are set to ride the pines again - or at least the Cowboys and Eagles hope they do. The longer they sit, the more it means that their stars are healthy and their Super Bowl goals are right on track. But if they're needed a great deal in the regular season, then panic will set in for Dallas and Philadelphia, who are on edge enough as it is.
These underachieving franchises need to make some kind of championship run before their windows finally shut. If they have to rely on unknowns like Harris and Foles to take them to the promised land, then things don't look good - no matter how many headlines they've made in the preseason. Yet it is nice and necessary for the Eagles and Cowboys to know that these new options are there, just in case - at least until they're needed when it counts.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.
Other stories by this contributor
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- Dallas Cowboys
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Nick Foles
- Michael Vick
- Miles Austin
- the Cowboys
- Dez Bryant
- Jason Witten