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Under-the-radar receivers could play big role Sunday

With the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys meeting for the eighth time in the playoff history Sunday, NFL Nation reporters Rob Demovsky and Todd Archer take a look at the pressing questions facing each team going into the divisional round:

Todd Archer: How do they replace Jordy Nelson if he can’t play?

Rob Demovsky: It’s only 97 catches, 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns. What’s so tough about replacing that? Actually, it’s more than just the numbers, but Nelson’s versatility. Yes, he caught more passes outside the numbers than any other receiver in the NFL this season, but he also played more in the slot this year than he did before his ACL injury of 2015. Their offense wasn’t the same without Nelson last season, but they sure looked more capable of playing without him after he got hurt last Sunday against the Giants. Davante Adams, who the Cowboys should remember from the 2014 playoff game (Adams had seven catches for 117 yards and a touchdown in that game), is having his best season and actually put up No. 1-receiver type numbers last week against the Giants with eight catches for 125 yards and a touchdown. Rodgers also has a fairly strong connection with new tight end Jared Cook and can’t say enough good things about rookie receiver Geronimo Allison.

Demovsky: The Cowboys didn’t have Dez Bryant against the Packers back in Week 6, but Cole Beasley hurt them. What makes him so effective?

Archer: Quickness. He has unbelievable quickness. Go back and look at his second touchdown in that October game and see what he did to Ladarius Gunter. It wasn’t pretty. But where Beasley has grown a lot is the understanding of route concepts and leverage. He knows how to attack corner’s leverage, and he wins so early on routes that he gives Dak Prescott somewhere to throw the ball quickly after the snap. He’s not just a bubble screen guy. He’s not an outside receiver, however, he worked on that with Randy Moss in the offseason, but he can make plays. He might be one of the best athletes on the roster, too. He is a natural at just about everything. He can do a whole assortment of dunks (Google it). He is strong. He doesn’t drop passes (just two all season). As much as the Cowboys look for Bryant for the big plays down the field, Beasley makes the important grabs underneath to keep drives alive. If you go back to that fourth-down play two years ago, Beasley was open underneath but Tony Romo took the shot down the field to Bryant. He caught it until it was overturned (we’ll get into that one), but Beasley was a tough matchup then, too.