ARLINGTON, Texas - If any of Jaiquawn Jarrett's English professors at Temple ever lectured about the meaning of the phrase moot point, he must have slept in that day.

"Nah, I never heard that term before," he smiled.

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He also never heard of the term house money, which means he can't be hanging out in too many gambling establishments these days.

But even though Saturday's game with the Cowboys became a moot point once the New York Giants won, meaning that the Eagles were essentially playing with house money, the moment Jarrett found out he was getting an opportunity, he leaped up like an understudy in a Broadway musical.

"It is always great to get on that field and contribute as much as you can," the rookie said. "I've been very patient waiting for my opportunity."

Playing time hasn't been overflowing since the defensive back was drafted in the second round last spring. But when strong safety Kurt Coleman went down with an injury late in the first half, the Eagles coaching staff asked Jarrett to get in there. They didn't have to ask twice.

"We all prepare as if we are going to be starters, and when Kurt went down I just had to get in there," Jarrett said.

Jarrett played every play on defense in the second half and recorded two tackles in the 20-7 win.

"I thought I did average. There is always room for improvement," he said.

"JJ deserves all the credit you can give him," said fellow defensive back Brandon Hughes. "He got the opportunity, and he did what he had to do with it."

Like the rest of the Eagles, Jarrett was well aware the Giants had won. But when you are a rookie looking for playing time, you obviously can't worry about stuff like that.

"We play on pride," he said. "Just because we aren't going to make the playoffs, we are not going to go out there and lay down. When you play, it's a competitive game. If you don't go hard every play, you could be gone."

Jarrett also was aware the Eagles defense was dealing with a limited Cowboys offense. Quarterback Steven McGee probably won't be compared with John Elway any time soon, and running back Sammy Morris came into the league about the same time leather helmets were going out. Still, that's all stuff someone in Jarrett's position can't worry about.

"As a defense, you always want to go out there and shut the offense down," he said. "We didn't get the shutout, but as a whole we keep getting better each week."

And it was great to be a major part of the effort, something he isn't used to. And he sure isn't used to being interviewed by reporters after the game, either. When one approached him and asked him if he had time to talk, his immediate response was: "Why? You're not a cop, are you? I'm not in trouble, am I?"