The Dallas Cowboys head into the weekend with injuries to several starters and main backups that affect five positions. We review.
Injured: Bruce Carter (elbow), Sean Lee (toe)
Healthy: Dan Connor, Ernie Sims and Alex Albright
Outlook: Lee is done for the season and Carter’s elbow was dislocated but it popped back into place during the loss to Washington. At one point, Sims and Connor played with the first-team defense. Carter’s season isn’t done, unless results from Friday’s MRI reveal something different. Two of the Cowboys’ best defensive players are at this position and they don’t have any of them. Carter has been an excellent player this season, more so when Lee went out. Now the Cowboys have two veterans who must pick up the slack.
Injured: Orlando Scandrick (hand)
Healthy: Mike Jenkins, Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and Vince Agnew
Outlook: The issue here is Scandrick’s season. He underwent surgery on Friday morning to repair a broken left hand. It hasn’t been determined if his season is over, however, he’s had trouble securing the ball with two healthy hands. With a bad one, you have to wonder if the Cowboys still want him out there. The Cowboys can use Jenkins as the slot corner, but he’s endured back issues of late and played on Thursday. Agnew was inactive for the Redskins game and that most likely will change if Scandrick is out for the Philadelphia Eagles game on Dec. 2.
Injured: DeMarco Murray (foot) and Felix Jones (knees)
Healthy: Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner
Outlook: Jones should be given credit for playing through some health issues, but he always has something wrong with him and you can’t depend on him long-term. Murray has missed the last six games with his foot injury and owner Jerry Jones said he’s not sure when the starter will return. It might be time to give Dunbar and Tanner the bulk of the game carries and give Jones limited opportunities, at least until Murray returns.
Injured: Miles Austin (hip) and Kevin Ogletree (concussion)
Healthy: Dez Bryant, Dwayne Harris, Cole Beasley and Andre Holmes
Outlook: Ogletree missed the Redskins game and Austin was hurt during the 38-31 loss. Currently Bryant is the most accomplished receiver on the team who is healthy. Bryant has played well the last month, but he can’t do it alone. Beasley and Harris played pretty well during the Redskins game as the Cowboys mounted a comeback. More snaps for Beasley, whom quarterback Tony Romo likes, could help the struggling offense.
Injured: Ryan Cook (knee), Phil Costa (ankle), Tyron Smith (ankle)
Healthy: Jeremy Parnell, Derrick Dockery, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Nate Livings, Doug Free,David Arkin, Kevin Kowalski.
Outlook: Cowboys got away with using Smith as the swing tackle on Thanksgiving Day knowing he’s not 100 percent. Cook and Costa’s return are uncertain. Parnell didn’t embarrass himself against Washington, so if Smith isn’t ready he could earn another start. The center spot is troubling, given the health of Costa, who might need another week, and Cook, whom many thought would be ready to play by now.
Note: The defensive line has issues too with end Jason Hatcher going down with a concussion late in the Redskins game. Nose tackle Jay Ratliff and backup lineman Sean Lissemore are also nursing injuries, though those players could return soon.
Not long after inside linebacker Bruce Carter suffered a dislocated left elbow in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys’ 38-31 loss to Washington on Thursday, his teammates were left to assess the potential impact the injury could have on the defense. And judging by their reaction, it’s won’t be good.
“That’s tough,” said linebacker Dan Connor. “Bruce is a big-time playmaker and he’s got the helmet radio in it, and he’s in on all packages. That’s hard, throws a wrench in there…Hopefully he has a quick recovery and can come back.”
But there is fear that Carter could be lost for the rest of the season and that would be a damaging blow to the Cowboys, a team that is still being affected by the fallout from the season-ending toe injury inside linebacker Sean Lee had suffered Oct. 21. Eighty days after beginning the 2012 campaign with Lee and Carter as the starters, the Cowboys are dealing with the real possibility of closing it with Connor and Ernie Sims as the team’s primary inside linebackers.
Six weeks ago, no one would have imagined that scenario. Back then, Connor was a reserve player who signed last Match to provide depth. Sims, meanwhile, wasn’t even on the team. Now one of them could be responsible for relaying the defensive signals to their teammates if Carter is unavailable for the foreseeable future.
“I have some experience and I know Ernie definitely does,” Connor said. “So we’ll see how Bruce is and we’ll see where we’re at….We’ll get everything squared away next week.”
The Cowboys must.
“We’ve adjusted on the fly all season,” said nose tackle Josh Brent. “It’s something we have dealt with and know how to come back from.”
Orlando Scandrick underwent surgery Friday after suffering a spiral fracture in his left hand in the second quarter of the Cowboys’ 38-31 loss to the Washington Redskins.
It’s uncertain whether the slot cornerback, who has contributed 21 tackles and four pass breakups in 2012, will be able to return before the end of the season.
“Hopefully I’ll be back before the year is over,” he said. “If there is any way I can play, I will be back.”