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The VRR: Surviving Injury Up Next For Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys' relatively injury-free season was fractured on Sunday. More specifically, it was torn apart. Right tackle and resident tough-guy on the offense, Marc Colombo, fractured his tibia, but it turns out that will heal on its own. It's the torn ligaments in his ankle that require surgery.

From Todd Archer:

Marc Colombo will undergo surgery to repair the torn ligaments in his right ankle and will miss at least six weeks. The fibular fracture will heal on its own. There is a chance Colombo could play again this season if the Cowboys make a playoff run.

We all know how important the continuity along our offensive line has been to the success of the Cowboys offense. Last year, the Cowboys lost that when they lost Kyle Kosier, and in turn started to struggle. Now, they must face life without Colombo for the rest of the regular-season at minimum. This time, they turn to Doug Free. We've been waiting for a while to find out what we have in Free, but obviously we didn't want to find out this way.

Still, we've been watching Flozell Adams over the past couple of years and wondering when age and injury would fully catch up to him, all the while wondering if Free was his eventual replacement. We'll get a preview of that when he takes over for Colombo over the stretch-run, even though it would be at the "theoretically" less-challenging right tackle position. Free has to show he can handle that, before we have any thoughts of him eventually taking over at left tackle. Marc Colombo will be back after this season, the question has always been when will it be over for Flozell?

More VRR after the jump...

Leonard Davis says that he and Free are already talking together and working toward integrating Free into a line that is not short on experience.

"The whole time Doug was out there, him and I were talking," Davis said. "We talked on the bench and just kind of went over some plays and scenarios, so that way when we got on the field we were able to communicate and be on the same page, because the worst thing you can do is go out on the field with somebody that's never had any game experience and not be on the same page."

The good news on the injury front is that Mike Jenkins appears to be fine after bruising his bicep during the game and shouldn't miss any time. The bad news is Ken Hamlin, who we don't know about yet, but conflicting reports give pause.

Safety Ken Hamlin has a high ankle sprain that could keep him out a couple of weeks. Alan Ball or Pat Watkins would replace Hamlin if he cannot play.

Over at DC.com, they were a little more optimistic.

Two other players were forced to come out of the game with injuries, including Ken Hamlin, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the third quarter and did not return after being taken to the locker room for X-rays. The Cowboys don't expect Hamlin to be out long term. "It's real hard to tell early," Jerry Jones said. "But it does not look like an extended period of time he'll be out."

Sounds like he could miss a week or two.

Are players named Roy Williams simply cursed in Dallas? Roy Williams, the receiver, had his best statistical outing for the Cowboys and was one of the few offensive players early-on that made any plays, only to have that all overshadowed by his disastrous fumble and drop. For the drop, he claimed the lights and his visor-glare blinded him - let me give that a simple 'whatever'. But, he at least recognized he helped blow the game. 

"The fumble, that’s on me," Williams said. "The one in the lights, that’s on me. If the lights weren’t there that’s a catch. I lost this game for this football team. That’s the way I feel."

Nick Eatman makes the case that the Cowboys abandoned the running game too soon.

Barber gets 20 yards on his first two carries of the game and finishes with just three more . . . the rest of the game? Seriously? That's what I had a problem with. We're not talking about the game getting out of hand or the score was prohibitive for the run. And you can't say the Packers completely sold out to stop the run, or you would think the Cowboys might have attempted more than a handful of deep balls. The Packers' safeties were playing too deep to suggest a lot of eight-man fronts.

Raf looks at it with a different conclusion in this post, but let's talk about what hasn't been said much recently.

Felix Jones doesn't look anything like his old self since coming back from the knee injury. The quick burst, the explosiveness when he finds a small crease are just not there right now. He's still wearing the knee brace and over the past few games has added very little to the Cowboys cause. Should he be sitting until fully healthy? Is there a problem no one is discussing? Or is he just in a mini-slump? Without Jones' big bursts from the backfield, the Cowboys ground game is suffering.

Before we dive into this next story, let's all pledge that we are not in anyway blaming this game on the officials. But...didn't it feel like Dallas got hosed in the replay department on Sunday. By now we all know that the officials couldn't review the fumble that was recovered by Felix Jones. Still, even though it was the rule, that doesn't make us feel any better. That was a huge turning point in the game and essentially ended any chance of the Cowboys coming back once that Packers scored a TD.

"My mistake [thinking it was reviewable]," Triplette told a pool reporter after the game. "That’s not a reviewable aspect of a play. A recovery of a loose ball in the field of play is not reviewable by rule. So we just couldn’t review it."

I bet the NFL will review it, the rule that is, this offseason.

But how about another mistake that basically went unnoticed. On fourth down with just under 8 minutes to go, the Cowboys picked up the first down on a great "catch" by Patrick Crayton. Cowboys ball, first and ten at the Green Bay 29 yard-line. But the Packers challenged the play.

Triplette failed to penalize the Packers in the fourth quarter after coach Mike McCarthy tried to challenge a play when the Packers were out of challenges. Rule 15, Section 9 of the rule book states that "for initiating a challenge when all of a team’s timeouts have been exhausted or when all of its available challenges have been used: Loss of 15 yards."

A 15-yard penalty would have put the Cowboys at the Pack 14 with 8 minutes to go. Sure, a miracle comeback was far-fetched, but at least you'd like to have all the benefits of correct rulings to make it happen.

And to close, I have to give a shout-out to the Packers Charles Woodson. The whole Packers 3-4 defense was good, in fact great, but Woodson was the star.

Charles Woodson made enough for the Packers. He shadowed Witten more than the Cowboys thought he would, but he went further than merely playing his position. He was involved in all three Dallas turnovers.

We needed someone like him on Sunday.