The Dallas Cowboys head to frigid Lambeau Field on Sunday to test their mettle against a dealing Green Bay Packers team that will enter the contest with major questions because of injuries to key players.
The Cowboys are coming off a bye week and are in better shape than at any other time this season, though a few players may not be at full strength for the game.
Dallas listed only one player as unable to participate in practice this week: Anthony Barr is still suffering from a hamstring injury suffered against the Chicago Bears. Head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters Wednesday that the injury does not appear to be of long-term concern, encouraging news for the four-time Pro Bowler.
On Friday, tight end Jake Ferguson was added to the injury report with an illness. Cowboys staff described the illness as a “stomach bug,” but Ferguson is expected to be available on Sunday.
Ferguson caught his first two career touchdowns in the last three weeks. Tight end Dalton Schultz, who has been in and out with a knee injury, was a full participant this week and is expected to be at full speed on Sunday.
The biggest question for Dallas will be the availability of running back Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott is continuing to rehab from a knee sprain and a leg contusion he suffered against Detroit.
The star back missed Week 8, only the second game of his career missed due to injury. Team owner Jerry Jones and McCarthy indicated that Elliott would be ready, but he was still considered as a game-time decision on Friday.
On defense, the Cowboys are likely to have defensive end Tarell Basham available to help in the run game. Basham was placed on “Injured Reserve” (IR) in Week 1 with a knee injury and was activated to the roster on Wednesday. Basham adds to the Cowboys’ pass rush but is most likely to be used extensively on run plays to shore up the defensive line.
The third-oldest franchise in the NFL (1919) is in a totally different situation. The Green Bay Packers list 17 players on the injury report this week, with numerous “Did Not Practice” (DNP) determinations.
The biggest DNP this week was quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is struggling with a thumb injury he suffered in London. Having missed Wednesday’s practice and been listed as a limited participant on Thursday, he is currently expected to play on Sunday.
Wide receivers Romeo Doubs, Sammy Watkins, and Allen Lazard were limited in practice this week. Dealing with a high-ankle sprain, Doubs is most likely out on Sunday. Watkins was limited Thursday after sitting out Wednesday due to a knee injury, and Lazard has a shoulder injury but is expected to be available against the Cowboys.
The Dallas offense will likely get good opportunities both on the ground and through the air against the banged-up Packers. Outside linebacker Rashan Gary was placed on season-ending IR this week, a disappointing setback for a player who was third in the NFL in quarterback pressures.
Linebackers Krys Barnes, De’Vondre Campbell, and Preston Smith were also listed as limited, with Barnes unable to participate this week in practice.
Campbell and Smith are expected to be available but are likely to be at less-than-full strength when the Cowboys and Packers play on Sunday at 3:25 p.m. CT.