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Dallas Cowboys bit by the injury bug

The past few years the Cowboys have been the best in the league when it comes to games lost due to injury. Granted there have been a few concerning injuries that affected the team such as Terrell Owens last year and Terence Newman and Anthony Henry trading spots as injured starting cornerbacks. Fortunately, the Cowboys have yet to have a catastrophic rash of injuries that severely affected the team. Until now.

Kyle Kosier, Miles Austin, Anthony Spencer and possibly Isaiah Stanback and Kevin Burnett will all miss at least the season opener against the Browns on September 7. The Kosier injury is obviously the most concerning since he is an established starter on one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. There is a significant drop-off in both ability and experience between the starting lineman and the backups, and right now Joe Berger is the favorite to fill in for Kosier at LG. Berger had a decent camp, outperforming the other backups, but he has been underwhelming at best during the preseason games.

The injuries to Stanback and Austin are nearly as concerning, especially when you look at our depth at wide receiver. With Austin out and Stanback's status uncertain the Cowboys have just three receivers on the team that have caught a pass in the regular season. Danny Amendola and Mike Jefferson's chances of making the team have become much higher and both will have a final chance to make their case Thursday against Minnesota.

If it were my decision I would say Amendola gets the final spot. He has proven to be more useful than the other fringe receivers, showing the ability to return punts and kickoffs. True, he did fumble on his first return and his indecision on a route led to an interception, but for the most part he has sure hands on returns and seems to be fearless. If the Cowboys do keep Amendola, I wouldn't expect him to see a whole lot of time on offense, but he is definitely valuable as a kickoff return man with Stanback and Austin out.

The Cowboys were hoping to be able to control the reps of Greg Ellis this year, keeping him fresh as the season wore on. They were going to do this by getting Anthony Spencer more time on the field in relief of Ellis. The good news is that Spencer is not expected to miss significant time, and possibly just the season opener. Burnett might be back for week one against Cleveland which would help out with depth at linebacker if Spencer does miss more time than expected.

The good side of all this is that these injuries occurred in the preseason, minimizing the amount of regular season games that will be affected. However, these injuries will affect the depth charts in ways the Cowboys probably didn't intend on entering the season. The Cowboys will certainly have to keep six receivers now and possibly an extra lineman, leaving them to keep five cornerbacks instead of six. This will also affect some fringe special teamers, such as Dowayne Davis, whose slim chance of making the roster just went away. Speaking of special teams, nearly all of the injured players had a significant role on the return and coverage units.

The Cowboys will have their depth tested in the opening month of the season. The good news is that there is plenty of time for guys to get healthy and get back in there as the team moves on towards the playoffs.


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