The 2011 season for the Dallas Cowboys has seen the weekly injury list play a major role in the unfolding of the games. With the odd and sometimes frustrating start the team has gotten off to, the bye week may have come at a perfect time, giving the many banged up players a chance to recover. And the team may need every healthy player it can muster. With a 2-2 record, and the way the Cowboys got there, the team needs a good performance when they face the New England Patriots. A win would go a long ways towards erasing the bitter emotions that Dallas fans have been drug through twice this season.
And now, we may be coming to a game where the injury situation is completely different. The Cowboys are looking to be very close to full strength, while the Patriots are not only seeing some injuries mount up, but are starting to get a little bit concerned. And although they may be able to get some of their players back, they have some that appear certain to miss the Dallas game. Plus the team has a game with their bitter division rivals the New York Jets to get through before they play us.
For the first time this season, the relative health of the two teams could be a factor seriously in Dallas's favor.
I won't get into too much detail about the Dallas injury situation since most of you are acutely aware of it. Just suffice it to say that the Cowboys will possibly see their top two receivers on the field together for the first time since early in the first game, and their top defensive backs all able to go for the first time period. OCC has already put up a link to this, but you can review the Cowboys' injury outlook here.
The Patriots may well be headed in the opposite direction according to the Sporting News.
The Patriots injury issues continued on Wednesday, as a whopping seven key players were not present for the practice.
Things did look up a bit on Thursday, and the seven players not present for practice has shrunk to four in the official Patriots injury report, but the list of limited participants included eleven names. And even if most of those come back, the team is still looking at some important missing pieces based on the more severe injuries. The most important by far is linebacker Jerod Mayo, who is their defensive signal caller. And the Sporting News listed a solution for his absence that seems a bit questionable, given recent history.
As for Haynesworth, he could receive double-teams if healthy, allowing the Patriots defense to function without captain Jerod Mayo (sprained MCL).
OK. Maybe Bill Belichick has gotten Albert Haynesworth's head turned around. But he still has been out for all the games this season and I wonder if he can take up that much slack, or if he is really in game shape yet. And he is not yet guaranteed for this week.
The injury problems developing for the Patriots look very similar to our season in some aspects, although their issues are really concentrated on the defense. Three cornerbacks and two safeties are dinged up enough to be limited in practice. Throw in four defensive linemen and another linebacker, and you start to see why the Patriots are dead last defensively in total and passing yards allowed, giving up a stunning 477.5 yards per game overall. Only the fact that they gain a league leading 507.5 yards per game is keeping them at the top of their division. Talk about being in a good news/bad news situation. And one or two key injuries on offense could really put them in a bind.
I don't particularly like gaining an advantage because the other team is hurt. But I am not about to bemoan it, either. The Cowboys have had their share of injuries. Maybe it's time they get a leg up because someone else's leg is hurt.