2014 GAME 9 INJURY UPDATE: Arizona vs. Dallas | OLB Justin Durant season ends; MLB McClain sits | LB Tim Dobbins signed | Breaking down the breakdown | Emphasis placed on solid tackling | Cowboys-Cardinals Injury and Practice Report
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have signed linebacker Tim Dobbins to the active roster and moved Justin Durant to season-ending injured reserve. Continue reading →
MUDDLED IN THE MIDDLE: Dallas Cowboys scrambling to set linebacker unit without star anchor Sean Lee | 2014-2015 linebacker position outlook | Eleven LBs Remaining | Analysis
What’s the Deal?
2013 COWBOYS INJURY UPDATE: Dallas linebackers Sean Lee and Justin Durant practicing on the Texas-2 Tundra
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys returned to practice Thursday for the first day of practice for the Chicago Bears.
The team practiced in freezing, rainy conditions at Valley Ranch, and they welcomed back a pair of long-looked-for faces to the fold.
Linebackers Sean Lee and Justin Durant both returned to practice in full pads as the Cowboys began their preparations for their Monday night tilt against Chicago. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he’s hopeful both players can go through a full practice regimen in his first week back from a hamstring strain.
It was near freezing and raining as the Cowboys took to the field Thursday morning – an effect of the winter storm system moving into the Dallas area this week. Garrett said the team embraces the chances to practice in the elements, as it should be good preparation for game time temperatures in Chicago – which are expected to be in single digits.
“We want to practice here, outside. The weather has been good to us, going off to play in some of these northern cities where the weather is bad. A couple of weeks ago against the Giants, we got some bad weather down here in the days leading up to that,” he said. “We thought that was a positive, just to get out and practice in it. And it sounds like the weather is not going to be great here the next couple of days, so we’ll certainly embrace that opportunity.”
POSTGAME INJURY UPDATE: Sean Lee and Justin Durant expected to miss 3-4 weeks with hamstring injuries | Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints
IRVING, Texas – As banged up as this Dallas Cowboys team is right now, the bye week can’t come at a better time.
Vice President Stephen Jones said Tuesday that he is expected a lot of players back from injury, but one guy who likely won’t be included in that mix is middle linebacker Sean Lee.
The Cowboys’ leading tackler and interception leader will likely miss next week’s game against the Giants, and possible the Thanksgiving Day game with the Raiders as well.
Lee sustained a hamstring in the second quarter against the Saints Sunday night in the 49-17 loss to New Orleans.
“He’s got a hamstring issue,” Jones said on his weekly radio show on the 105.3 “The Fan” in Dallas. “To what extent, it’ll bear out here between the MRIs and his rehab. We’ll see how he progresses. I don’t think it’s going to be anything that’s a long time, but it’s probably going to be more than a week or two, and we’ll go from there.”
The Dallas Cowboys will welcome the bye week with open arms, considering how many injuries they’ve suffered in the past few weeks.
But missing Lee, will certainly be a big blow to the defense.
“He’s a great player and he’s done a real nice job for us,” defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. “But we’ve just got to plug some other guys in there and keep going. That’s the only thing you can do.”
The problem with that, however, is that Lee’s backup Justin Durant also suffered a hamstring injury in the second half, playing for Lee in the middle.
Durant starts at outside linebacker in the base 4-3 defense, but has been Lee’s backup in the middle. Once he went down, the Cowboys used Kyle Bosworth inside.
Look for the Cowboys to explore all options concerning the middle linebacker position, perhaps even using Ernie Sims or Bruce Carter inside. They could also try to find an available linebacker on the street, like they’ve done with the defensive end position.
Lee, who signed a six-year, $42 million extension back in late August, has had his share of injury issues in his career. In fact, Lee has a chance to earn as much as $51 million in this contract if he can stay relatively healthy and earn playing-time incentives.
He missed two games his rookie season in 2010 with a hamstring injury and most of a game later that year with a concussion. He also had a wrist injury in 2011 that forced him to wear a club on his hand for about a month.
Last year, Lee went on IR in late October with a toe injury that required surgery, forcing him to miss the last 10 games.
Other than Lee’s injury, the Cowboys are hopeful to get a few more starters and key players back for the Nov. 24 game with the Giants. Jason Hatcher (shoulder/neck), Morris Claiborne (hamstring), Miles Austin (hamstring) and J.J. Wilcox (knee) are expected to return after each missing some games here in the last month.
Also, DeMarcus Ware (quad), Nick Hayden (ribs), Dez Bryant (back), DeMarco Murray (knee) and various other players have been battling through injuries that have slowed them down considerably and forced them to miss practice time.
Obviously this is the time the Cowboys can get healthy again and get the majority of their players back. But unfortunately for them, Sean Lee is not expected to be one of them.
Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Sean Lissemore was quick with an answer when asked if he would play Saturday against the Bengals: “I’ll be playing this Saturday,” Lissemore said.
It was a long eight days for Lissemore after he injured his groin in practice Aug. 11. Lissemore had been getting plenty of reps with starter Jay Ratliff rehabbing hernia and hamstring injuries since the start of camp on July 20.
“It’s always frustrating to be injured, but you’ve got to kind of look at it and say, ‘Well, what can I do to get better?’” Lissemore said Tuesday. “So you just watch film; you watch the guys ahead of you; you watch practice. You just try to watch your position and get better every day.”
Lissemore returned to practice Tuesday. He did individual work, followed by metabolics “just to get my wind back.” He expects to work into team drills this week.
By design, Lissemore has lost some 12-14 pounds since camp started, down to 298. He hopes that helps him better fit into the Tampa 2 defense the Cowboys are using this season under Monte Kiffin.
“I think I can definitely play in this defense,” Lissemore said. “It’s just taken a little bit to transition. It’s a little bit different from last year, playing a 3-4 defense, kind of two-gapping. So it’s kind of forgetting everything I’ve learned for the past three years and kind of training myself to do something different.”
Two other defensive players injured the same day as Lissemore have yet to return.
Linebacker Ernie Sims, who was competing with Justin Durant for the starting strong side spot, said he was encouraged by his rehab work Tuesday on his pulled groin. He cut and changed directions without a problem.
Sims hopes to return to practice this week.
“I want to be back this week,” Sims said. “But we’re taking it day by day right now, just trying to keep strengthening it. I’m definitely making a big improvement, though, because I’m feeling a whole lot better. I’m moving a whole lot better. Running a whole lot better. Right now, I’m just in the strengthening, trying to build my strength back up.”
Defensive back Eric Frampton, one of the team’s core special teams players, has a calf injury and is expected to be the last of the three to return to the field. He is not yet running, though he is using the AlterG, a anti-gravity treadmill.
Frampton said there is no timetable for his return.
“The way I see it, I want to be able to just contribute on the field once the season starts and whatever it takes to get to that point is what’s important,” Frampton said.
CANTON, Ohio – Head coach Jason Garrett wasn’t going to let the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive linemen miss the induction of Larry Allen into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Garrett brought all of his team’s offensive linemen, as well as select veterans on the team to watch Allen’s speech as he was inducted a day before the Cowboys are set to play in the Hall of Fame Game.
Left tackle Tyron Smith was just five years old when Allen won his Super Bowl with the Cowboys in January 1996, so needless to say he only watched Allen sparingly growing up. But Smith quickly learned what Allen meant to the team.
“I didn’t learn much about him until I got with the Cowboys,” Smith said. “It’s a great experience to be here, and I definitely didn’t want to miss it.”
The experience was just as great for the young undrafted players and backup offensive linemen in attendance. First-year tackle Edawn Coughman, who’d never been to the Hall of Fame before, said words couldn’t express how he felt to walk through the Hall of Fame and watch Allen get inducted.
“It’s a great honor,” Coughman said. “I watched him a lot when I was younger. I’m excited to see this man in person. I’m elated.”
Jason Garrett wanted to make sure the majority of his veteran starters and the players on the team who knew Allen got to see the induction.
The list of veteran players at the ceremony included Tony Romo, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant,Jason Witten, DeMarco Murray, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Justin Durant, Jason Hatcher,DeMarcus Ware, Danny McCray, LP Ladouceur, Will Allen, Barry Church, Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr.
The Cowboys finally jumped into the NFL free-agent market with the signings of linebacker Justin Durant and safety Will Allen on Wednesday.
Both players visited the team on Monday and took physicals. Both agreed to deals on Tuesday, but they couldn’t be made official until the Cowboys cleared room under the salary cap.
The Cowboys had just $102,000 in space under the 2013 cap of $123 million heading into Wednesday. But that was before they restructured the contract of backup quarterback Kyle Orton and released wide receiver Anthony Armstrong to free up roughly $1 million.
The Cowboys have less than $25,000 in cap space now. But they accomplished their goal of getting Durant and Allen in the fold to give them some insurance at linebacker and safety, where the unproven likes of Kyle Wilber and Matt Johnson are at the top of the depth chart.
Durant will compete with Wilber, a 2012 fourth-round pick, for the starting job at strongside linebacker. The six-year veteran has 68 career starts with Jacksonville and Detroit. He had 14 starts last year in Detroit, recording 103 tackles.
Allen has largely been a backup in a nine-year career with the Buccaneers and Steelers with just 33 career starts. He has had seven starts the past three years in Pittsburgh, all coming as a injury replacement in 2012.
But Allen is an excellent special teams player who has a history with Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin dating back to their days together in Tampa Bay.
He knows the new scheme and will give the Cowboys a veteran option if Johnson doesn’t develop at free safety. The signing also doesn’t preclude the Cowboys from still targeting a safety in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Johnson was picked in the fourth round last year but didn’t play and rarely practiced because of a litany of injuries. The Cowboys, however, believe in his upside.
Kyle Orton is the latest Cowboys player to restructure his contract to help the team clear cap room, joining receiver Miles Austin, linebacker DeMarcus Ware, tight end Jason Witten, center Ryan Cook, guard Mackenzy Bernadeau, nose tackle Jay Ratliff and cornerback Orlando Scandrick.
Despite the current lack of funds, the cap-challenged Dallas Cowboys appear to be close to adding an extra body on defense.
NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported that former Detroit Lions linebacker Justin Durant plans to sign a two-year contract with the Cowboys once they create more cap space.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram noted that Durant’s visit amounted to nothing more than an “informational” meeting because the Cowboys, with just $102,000 in cap room, lack the finances to officially make a move. The same applied to visits by free-agent safeties Michael Huff and Will Allen. Apparently Durant’s visit went well enough for the six-year veteran to agree to wait while the Cowboys get their books adjusted.
That likely will come as the team negotiates a multi-year deal with pass rusher Anthony Spencer. The Cowboys also have to sign their draft class.
Durant gives the Cowboys a solid linebacker to add to Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 defense. He started 26 games over the past two seasons for the Lions and racked up 103 tackles in 2012. The 27-year-old figures to start opposite Bruce Carter with Sean Lee occupying the middle.
The Lions made little effort to re-sign Durant, but he went out of his way to thank the team and city on Twitter.
“Shout out to Detroit man I wanna thank y’all for the luv and support y’all showed me the past couple years I really appreciate it,” Durant wrote Tuesday. “I thank the organization for allowing me the opportunity to play the last 2 years I am forever grateful.”
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys agree to terms with free agent linebacker
The salary cap-challenged Dallas Cowboys made a ripple today (Tuesday) by reportedly agreeing to terms with former Detroit Lions linebacker Justin Durant.
The team is expected to sign the seven-year veteran to a two-year deal once it creates more space under the salary cap.
Durant started 14 games last season. He finished second on the team with 103 tackle while playing outside linebacker in the 4-3 defense, which the Cowboys will use this season after employing the 3-4 scheme every season since Bill Parcells installed it in 2005.
Second-year pro Kyle Wilber is projected as the starter at strong-side linebacker for Dallas in 2013, but the club now has two veterans to push him in Durant and Alex Albright.
A seven-year veteran, Durant spent the last two seasons with the Lions after he started his NFL career with a four-year stint with Jacksonville. Durant, who carries 240 pounds on 6-foot-1 frame, turns 28 in September.