Before they encountered a rash of injuries that decimated the offensive line and forced them to redraft their starting lineup, the Dallas Cowboys already knew the next two weeks would be challenging.
One look at their preseason slate was enough to make that conclusion. After all, their last three exhibition games, starting with Saturday’s meeting with San Diego, will take place in a span of 12 days.
The condensed schedule has forced Dallas into an uncomfortable arrangement. The Cowboys will have only four full practices before the end of the preseason, giving them little time to resolve large-scale problems before Week 1 rolls around and their attention completely shifts to their Sept. 5 season opener against the New York Giants.
“It’s happening fast,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We really talked to our team about that from the start of training camp, that it was really important to lay a great foundation here the first couple of weeks because then the schedule is going to get a little funny, and before you know it we are going to be on a plane, flying to New York to play the Giants.
“So, you do your best to handle the different situations that come up, individually as players and coaches, and certainly collectively. … We don’t anticipate anything on our team being ironed out before we go to the Giants. It’s an ongoing process.”
And the circumstances keep changing. On Friday, it was revealed that linebacker DeMarcus Ware won’t play against San Diego after experiencing hamstring soreness. He joins six other projected starters — tight end Jason Witten (spleen), receiver Miles Austin (hamstring), center Phil Costa (back), guard Nate Livings (hamstring) and linebacker Anthony Spencer (hamstring) — who are sidelined.
“It’s tough not to have some of your guys there that you’re going to roll in the season with,” linebacker Sean Lee said. “But that’s going to happen. … We still have some time to take advantage of and get ready for the Giants.”