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Cowboys Injury Update: Rolando McClain Must Pass Protocol; Not Counting On Doug Free

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The Cowboys have one big question mark for Sunday.

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The Dallas Cowboys have a date with the Green Bay Packers on Sunday for the rights to move on to the conference championship. Dallas came out of the Lions game relatively healthy although injuries sometimes go unreported until the team gathers for its first practice of the week, which is tomorrow. One player who we do know was injured during the game was middle linebacker Rolando McClain. During the broadcast we got various explanations for what was wrong with McClain, but now we learn that it is a neck issue along with concussion symptoms.

[Jason] Garrett said "apparently" McClain injured his neck and suffered concussion symptoms on the same hit against Detroit.

The Cowboys remain optimistic that McClain can return to practice this week and play in the NFC division round playoff game Sunday at Green Bay. Garrett said McClain’s neck shouldn’t limit him in practice this week. But like any player with a concussion in the NFL, McClain will have to progress through a five-step return-to-play protocol throughout the week before he can be cleared for full football activities.

McClain left the game in the second quarter and was replaced by Anthony Hitchens. We all remember that Hitchens was questionable for the game with an ankle issue and the Cowboys planned to limit his snaps if he played in the game at all. Instead the rookie had to play the rest of the game and did well, showing the ankle did not slow him down. The kid is tough.

One player who has been unable to battle through foot and ankle issues is Doug Free. It looks like he'll be out again.

The Dallas Cowboys don’t expect starting right tackle Doug Free to play Sunday at the Green Bay Packers after missing the last three games with an injured left ankle and foot. "It’s still going to be tough for Doug to play this week," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Monday on KRLD-FM. "He’s trying to get back but we’ll just have to see. We’re taking that week by week, but it’s an uphill battle for Doug to get back for this week."

Thank goodness for Jeremy Parnell, who just might be playing himself into a permanent starter's role down the line.