Lavonte David: It’s time for him to start making the impact plays that the Bucs’ defense needs. On Thursday, when asked about his performance in the season’s first half, David told ESPN.com, “It’s not what I wanted it to be.” That’s a fair assessment, given that he struggled with missed tackles and an inability to create takeaways (no interceptions and one forced fumble). The Cowboys boast the NFL’s eighth-best rushing offense, averaging 128.6 yards per game, so David must be a sure tackler against Darren McFadden, who has 333 yards in the past three games. David also must be strong against the pass, with Jason Witten leading Dallas in receiving with 403 yards and two touchdowns. David has to meet the challenge after signing a five-year, $50.25 million extension in August.
Doug Martin: He was held to a season-low 31 yards in a loss to the New York Giants in Week 9. He must do more against a Cowboys defense that’s 18th in the NFL against the run, allowing 111.6 yards per game. Dallas surrendered a season-high 172 yards rushing against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 9. That day, DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews combined for 150 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries. The potential is there for Martin and Charles Sims to create similar damage, but Martin has to set the tone early. Recent history suggests Martin has the ability to recover in a big way. Before last Sunday, his previous season-low rushing total was 46 yards against the Houston Texans in Week 3. He followed that performance with three consecutive 100-yard games.