The Cowboys returned to Dallas this weekend and were initially believed to be none worse for wear following their 12-7 loss in the desert to the Arizona Cardinals. Unfortunately, that doesn't now appear to be the case. Reports from the opening of today's practice (30 minutes available to the media) say that Lance Dunbar is moving around Valley Ranch in a walking boot due to a sprained foot.
The initial prognosis is that he'll be sidelined for 3-4 weeks, meaning he will miss the season opener against the New York Giants.
Also missing from today's practice is second-year cornerback Morris Claiborne. Claiborne had stated after the Arizona game that he was looking forward to returning to action this week, but he was not to be seen. In fact, per the reporters attending practice, 17 Dallas Cowboys on the 90 man roster were missing today. That is nearly 20% of the team unable to practice. Even with the expanded rosters, it's difficult for a team to get to where it needs to be when practice plans are limited.
Jay Ratliff (hamstring), Ernie Sims (groin), Matt Johnson (foot), JJ Wilcox (personal), Eric Frampton (calf), Toby Jackson (unknown), Alex Albright (back), Travis Chappalear (unknown), Sean Lissemore (groin), Tyrone Crawford (achilles) are the other defenders out today. Albright and Crawford are on the shelf for the season.
There was a bit of good news, however. Strongside DE Anthony Spencer was spotted riding the stationary bike, signaling that his return from a knee scope and rest for a bone bruise could be nearing. Guards Kevin Kowalski (knee) and Ray Dominguez (shoulder) also returned to practice. They should inject some much needed depth with Nate Livings and Ron Leary still sidelined with their respective knee situations.
On offense, Cole Beasley is still sidelined with his foot injury as well, and Ryan Cook has not returned from his back ailment.
Dunbar's injury opens the door for rookie fifth-round pick Joseph Randle to assume the backup RB duties behind DeMarco Murray. Lance possibly being out through the opener also improves fourth-string RB Phillip Tanner's chances of making the final 53-man roster. Tanner did not log a snap in Saturday's loss.
On the flip side, players that were on the 53-man bubble just saw their uphill battle become even steeper. With Dallas most likely carrying three active running backs on gameday, locking in four roster spots to running backs means somebody will get squeezed off.
All eyes will be on the actual return time of Dunbar. As it stands now, missing the first one or two games of the season shouldn't be a huge deal. It's a hit, but not one that should alter season-long plans. The Cowboys, however, have become notorious (to me at least) for under-selling the amount of time players are sidelined by their injuries. Several players, including Claiborne, Spencer and Leary have been, or will be, out much longer than initially expected or proclaimed by the club. As I mentioned on my most recent podcast, it is the way of this regime to keep the injury news as close to the vest as possible.
Regardless, as always... next man up.
More from Blogging The Boys:
- Dallas Cowboys Offense: Can RB Lance Dunbar Be A Space Cowboy?
- Dallas Cowboys News And Notes: Defense Strong, Special Teams Not
- Game Review Of The Cowboys @ Cardinals: First Half Offense
- Cowboys 7, Cardinals 12: Three Things We Learned, Three Things We Knew
- Cowboys @ Cardinals: What They're Saying (The Early Version)