He had gone seven games without playing more than 13 defensive snaps. Twice he did not play a defensive snap at all. On two more occasions he played just one defensive snap.
“Throughout the season it was definitely some frustration that I was going through,” Frazier said. “Just like sometimes I thought I should’ve been playing more, but I knew it was also a plan and it was going to work out eventually. I just had to stay ready and whenever I did get my chance to try to make the most of it. And I think I did that in this last game.”
Frazier played 21 defensive snaps in the Cowboys’ 38-14 win against the Washington Redskins, rotating series and situations with Byron Jones. He was credited by the coaches with seven tackles and one tackle for loss.
Entering the game, he had never made more than three tackles in a game and never made a tackle for loss in his first two seasons. He has mostly been a special-teams ace. He leads the Cowboys with 10 special-teams tackles. His work as a gunner has played a big part in Chris Jones having 28 punts land inside the 20 and just two go for touchbacks.
Kids with NFL dreams don’t just dream of being special-teams players. They dream of playing every down, even if they were a sixth-round pick, like Frazier, in 2016. In a draft class with Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, Jaylon Smith, Maliek Collins and Anthony Brown, Frazier had to wait his time to get a chance.
When the Cowboys decided to overhaul the secondary in the offseason, letting Brandon Carr, Barry Church, Morris Claiborne and J.J. Wilcox walk in free agency, it was not with idea to make Frazier a big part of the plans. The Cowboys selected four defensive backs in last spring’s draft -- Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Xavier Woods and Marquez White. They elevated Jeff Heath to a starting spot.
If Frazier has to look at a career path to success, it would be Heath, who made the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2013 and became a special-teams stalwart.
“Kavon really took advantage of the opportunity that he got,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He is a physical tackler. His presence is felt out there. He didn't play a perfect game by means. But certainly played with confidence and played the right way. He will learn from some of the things that weren't up to standard. He is a physical guy who loves to play. Oftentimes that can be contagious throughout your defense. He certainly made his presence felt out there with some of the big hits that he made.”
Frazier’s ascension came in part because of the struggles of Jones, the Cowboys’ first-round pick in 2015. The coaches have liked Jones’ work in coverage throughout the season but want him to be more physical.
The decision to split time between Jones and Frazier was made at the start of the practice week.
“Even though I knew I was going to be playing, I still was doing every scout-team rep,” Frazier said. “I was still working on my craft for the scout team, and that makes the offense better and that makes me better at the same time. It also helps my ability to go longer with my conditioning, so I just went about it the exact same way about it every week.”
The Cowboys plan to stick with the same plan going forward. Garrett’s wants to build competition, even at this point of the season.
“We just felt like we needed to play better on the back end, felt like we had some guys who were deserving of an opportunity based on what they’d done in practice and with the limited opportunity they had in games. We felt like that was important for our team. Again, I felt like everybody responded the right way -- the guys getting the opportunity and the guys who had some of their reps reduced. They responded the right way and we played the right way on defense throughout the ball game -- not perfect by any means, but we played a better game.”