Not only did the Dallas Cowboys lose a game on Monday night, but they also lost a key part of their defense. Weak-side linebacker Justin Durant has not been officially ruled out for the rest of the season, but Jerry Jones all but confirmed it with his information that Durant tore his bicep, which would certainly put him out for the rest of the year. And that's really too bad, for Durant and the Cowboys. Durant was coming into his own on the weak side with Rod Marinelli acting as the coordinator. He was the Cowboys leading tackler and had found a niche as a leader on the defense. Out of all the things that happened last night, this one might be the most significant for Dallas.
Marinelli will now have to choose how he goes about assembling the linebacker corps from here on out. They could move Kyle Wilber into the lineup at strong side, flipping Carter back to the weak side, then leaving Carter and Rolando McClain on the field in the nickel. Or they could choose to bring back rookie Anthony Hitchens on the weak side, leaving Carter in place, but Hitchens seems to have fallen out of favor in Dallas recently. Either way, the Cowboys are playing a majority of the time in nickel defenses, so Carter and McClain will get the majority of the snaps.
Almost unnoticed last night, but the Cowboys had to play the overtime snaps with Mackenzy Bernadeau at left guard after Ron Leary left the game with a groin issue. He will be evaluated today, but the Cowboys line is starting to experience the bumps and bruises of an NFL season. We'll see if Leary can play Sunday, and how soon Doug Free will be back.
Finally, there's the Tony Romo injury. After the game he said if he can finish a game, he can usually play next week. But last year, against the same Washington team, he finished a game after hurting his back only to have season-ending surgery later. Fortunately, the Cowboys are optimistic that they dodged a bullet on this one. Jason Garrett today:
"We'll get the tests today, but we anticipate him being ready to go," Garrett said in an interview with 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday. "When we left the stadium last night, he seemed like he was OK, and we'll get the tests today to verify everything."
"Obviously he was cleared to go back into the game last night, so we felt good enough about that when the initial X-Rays were negative," Garrett said. "But they want to do some more extensive tests. We'll find out more as the day goes on."