The Time for Goodrich is Now

The Cowboys' secondary will be under the microscope again Saturday night at Carolina. Bryant Westbrook, Dwayne Goodrich, and several others will be out to prove that they belong with the first team. Suprisingly, Dwayne Goodrich may be making a run up the depth chart.

What else can you say about Dwayne Goodrich? The former Tennessee star has had just about everything happen to him since the Cowboys drafted him two years ago. Goodrich, who has only played 5 games in his brief NFL career, is trying to come back from a ruptured Achilles tendon he suffered during last year's training camp.

No one really gave him a chance during the first couple of practice sessions in the Alamodome, but after a strong performance in the Cowboys opening preseason game against Oakland last weekend, the third year pro will have the opportunity to show his stuff this Saturday at Carolina.

"I only got in for 16 plays, but it felt good," said Goodrich in an interview earlier this week. "That was my first time out in over a year and I was nervous, but all it is is a starting point for me."

Goodrich didn't have a pass completed on him in the Cowboys 20-6 win over the Raiders, but he didn't really see enough action to warrant a huge pat on the back from the coaching staff either. That won't be the case Saturday when Dallas travels to Carolina.

As the Cowboys continue to evaluate a variety of players through their second preseason game, Dwayne Goodrich will be one of the main players that receives the bulk of the attention Saturday evening.

The coaching staff only feels comfortable with Mario Edwards at one of the starting cornerback spots, and Dave Campo won't shy away from benching Bryant Westbrook should another player step up and make a statement. That player could be Dwayne Goodrich. "We need playmakers back there, and so far I haven't really seen it from anybody," Campo said.

Make no mistake about it, Dwayne Goodrich has all the physical tools to succeed at NFL level, he just hasn't been able to get away from the injury bug. Last season, he suffered a torn right Achilles tendon late in training camp. The year before he only saw action on defense in one game after suffering a tough hamstring injury in the preseason.

The last two years simply make Saturday's game against the Carolina Panthers that much more important. A strong showing could solidify Goodrich's chances at making the 53-man roster, while a lapse of any kind could cost him his career in Dallas.

"We'll use the exhibition games to evaluate talent. Those games will be used to determine who makes the team and who goes home. The early games especially," said Dave Campo.

As harsh as it sounds, that's the life of an NFL player who hasn't quite lived up to expectations. Fortunately for Goodrich, he has one more game to get it together.

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