The Dallas Cowboys were forced to add defensive end Bradlee Anea to the Injured/Covid list on Friday following a positive test for the virus. On Wednesday, the team placed linebacker Keanu Neal into Covid protocol that may prevent him from being available for the Cowboys home opener on Monday. The nationally televised match-up against the rival Philadelphia Eagles will be the first division game for Dallas, and they will be without numerous starters on defense.
The Cowboys depth chart will be tested against the Eagles as they will be without several starters and several star players are not at 100 percent. Against the Chargers last week, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn did a remarkable job of moving players around and taking advantage of opportunities. Between shutting down the Chargers’ offense and creating numerous offensive holding penalties, the reshuffled defense proved its capabilities when down key players.
Also absent this week will be defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who fractured his foot in practice this week. The injury will keep him off the field for six to eight weeks. Defensive end Dorance Armstrong will also be unavailable after suffering a high ankle sprain against Los Angeles.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy ruled another defensive end out this week. Carlos Watkins, who just returned from the Covid list before the game against the Chargers, is dealing with a knee sprain he suffered in that game. The team doesn’t have a timetable for his return.
At tackle, the defense will also be without Neville Gallimore for several more weeks. Gallimore dislocated his elbow in the final preseason game against Arizona. The injury will likely keep him off the field until mid-October. Tackle Ty Nsekhe will miss the game after being hospitalized with a heat-related illness on September 17.
Trysten Hill continues to be listed on the Physically Unable to Perform list while rehabbing a torn ACL he suffered in Week 5 of the 2020 season.
Quinn indicated earlier this week that he hoped to be able to play Micah Parsons in his customary linebacker role rather than as an edge rusher to fill in for injuries against Los Angeles. Still, with the loss of so many defensive line players, fans may get to see Parsons try to harass former Oklahoma star Jalen Hurts.
While in much better shape than the defense, the offense won’t be at full strength against the Eagles. Wide receiver Amari Cooper suffered a rib injury near the end of the game against Los Angeles and has been limited in practice this week. Cooper has yet to be ruled out.
Dak Prescott will be without Michael Gallup and La’el Collins, two critical pieces of the offensive puzzle. Gallup suffered a calf strain and is on the Injured/ Reserve list. Collins is serving a five-week suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on substances of abuse. COllins missed seven drug tests due to various circumstances, including covid protocols.
Last week, the defense came up with ways to disrupt a talented young quarterback, and the offense scored just enough points to get a win. To pick up the first divisional win of the season, the backups on defense will need to have another outstanding performance.