Usually, Week 3 of the NFL preseason saw the most starters play. Known as the “dress rehearsal game,” it was when most teams were the most aggressive when deciding who played and who didn’t. But now that the preseason has been cut back to three games, things have changed a lot. One example of that is the Dallas Cowboys, who will rest a lot of players.

How many? According to Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy, 30 of them. And essentially, one offensive coordinator.

If we were talking about the 53-man roster – which we’re not, but for illustrating purposes – the Cowboys would be resting 57% of their players. Now granted, starters got their fair share of playing time last week versus the Houston Texans. The starting offensive line played in its entirety for the first time and defensive starters stayed on the field almost the entire first half, barring stars like DeMarcus Lawrence.

Even still, this Sunday’s matchup versus the Jacksonville Jaguars will be very important for a lot of Cowboys players. Especially at the safety position after Malik Hooker and rookie Israel Mukuamu were activated on time from the Reserve/COVID-19.

Hooker is reportedly expected to see “substantial work” as he continues to battle for a significant role within the Cowboys’ defense.

In an interesting turn of events, the Dallas Cowboys will have a different play-caller on both sides of the ball on game day. Dan Quinn continues on the COVID-19 protocol and Joe Whitt will continue his “backup” duties after calling the plays from the booth last weekend.

On offense, the Cowboys are changing things up voluntarily though. Kellen Moore will be on the sidelines, but he won’t be calling the shots. Instead, it’ll be Quarterbacks Coach Doug Nussmeier in the controls.

This comes off as a very surprising move from the Cowboys, but it’s one that makes sense when you dive deeper into the potential reasons behind it. Which can be divided into two. First of all, it helps develop Nussmeier as a coach as Gehlken points out in the above tweet.

But also, the Cowboys found out the hard way that just like they can lose any player to the COVID-19 protocols, they can also lose any play-caller.

Although football fans will usually focus on on-the-field issues, there are also a lot of simple and little things that go on on the sidelines. Even from a logistics point of view, a change like that can be a headache. This will help as a rehearsal for that scenario.

It’s also interesting that if Kellen Moore is unavailable at any point of the season, it’d be Nussmeier and not Mike McCarthy himself who takes over. Although surprising, this is a smart move from the Cowboys. McCarthy taking over the play-calling could cause a lot of awkward and unnecessary talk from fans, media, and in the worst-case, players.

Anyways, Sunday’s game versus the Jaguars should be a fun watch as multiple players fighting for a roster spot get their last chance to crack the 53-man roster or the 16-man practice squad.

Featured image via Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports