Cowboys Rule out Key Veteran Ahead of Playoff Opener: Report

Mike McCarthy

Getty The Cowboys will be without CB Trayvon Mullen against the Buccaneers.

The Dallas Cowboys have ruled out a key veteran ahead of their playoff opener versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

As the Cowboys prepare for their wild card playoff game versus the Buccaneers on Monday night, one player won’t be suiting up. As reported by Michael Gehlken of Dallas Morning News, cornerback Trayvon Mullen has been ruled out for the game due to an illness.

“Cowboys ruled out CB Trayvon Mullen (illness) for Monday’s game at Buccaneers,” said Gehlken on Saturday, January 14. “LB Micah Parsons missed today’s walkthrough for personal reason. He and all others on 53-man roster are available Monday.”

Trayvon Mullen Made Cowboys Debut in Regular Season Finale

The two-time national champion was claimed off waivers by the Cowboys following his release from the Arizona Cardinals in December. He made his debut with Dallas during the regular season finale versus the Washington Commanders, appearing in 35 defensive snaps — which was 53 percent of snaps for the defense. He made three tackles in the game.

Prior to being claimed by the Cowboys, Mullen played in eight games with the Cardinals, making 13 tackles and forcing a fumble. He also previously served as a starter for the Las Vegas Raiders between 2019 and 2021.

Mullen was signed in large part due to the rash of injuries at cornerback for the Cowboys. Dallas lost two of their top corners earlier in the season when starting cornerback Anthony Brown suffered a season-ending Achilles’ tear back in December. Meanwhile, nickel cornerback Jourdan Lewis suffered his own season-ending foot injury back in October.

Xavier Rhodes Hoping to Make Cowboys Debut vs. Bucs

The Cowboys also claimed former Pro Bowl cornerback Xavier Rhodes off waivers from the Buffalo Bills to help with their injuries in the secondary. Although Rhodes didn’t appear in any regular season games for Dallas, he did appear in two regular season games with the Bills, including one start during late November and early December.

Rhodes has been participating in practice and is ready to contribute if his name is called upon, as Patrik Walker of the Cowboys’ official website reports.

“That’s something you have to ask the coaches, but what I can tell you is how I feel out there,” said Rhodes following practice on Thursday. “I feel great. I feel like I’m getting the hang of things on defense, with the playbook and everything, so we’ll see sometime today or tomorrow. Can I go? If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here.”

With Mullen being ruled out, it’s very possible Rhodes’ first game as a member of the Cowboys takes place in the playoffs. Outside of Rhodes, Dallas currently has five healthy cornerbacks, including Trevon Diggs, Nashon Wright, C.J. Goodwin, DaRon Bland and Kelvin Joseph.

Rhodes — who has plenty of playoff experience dating back to his days with the Minnesota Vikings — explained what he brings to the table for a Dallas team thirsting at making a Super Bowl run.

“Veteran [mentality] — 10 years in,” said Rhodes. “I’ve seen a lot of things and been in a lot of situations throughout my NFL career. I’ve been to the NFC Championship and throughout the playoffs. You can name it all, I’ve probably been through it, and having that experience to teach the young guys what to expect in certain situations and what certain quarterbacks like to throw to; and who their favorite players are. I’ve been through a lot. I can definitely help teach them about situational football.”

With the Cowboys lacking deep playoff experience among their current set of cornerbacks, maybe Rhodes can emerge as an X-factor for a team looking to make a deep postseason run.

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