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Disappearing Depth: The Sudden Problem With The Cowboys' Defensive Line

Things once looked so good for an improved pass rush in Dallas. After only three weeks, what we all thought was a deep and talented group is now in disarray.

DeMarcus Lawrence has been disappointing so far.
DeMarcus Lawrence has been disappointing so far.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Depth. It is one of the most important things for a team to have to succeed in the NFL. At the start of the season, it looked like the Dallas Cowboys had achieved it. But just three weeks into the season, depth has already been badly depleted by injuries. The big hits were the loss of Dez Bryant and Tony Romo for extended periods of time, but in terms of sheer numbers, no part of the team has been as badly affected as the defensive line. Already, the group on the roster has changed dramatically since the initial 53 man roster was named.

Here are the eleven players the Cowboys started with.

DE DeMarcus Lawrence
DE Jeremy Mincey
DE Randy Gregory
DE Ryan Russell
DE Lavar Edwards
DE Jack Crawford

DT Tyrone Crawford
DT Terrell McClain
DT Nick Hayden
DT Davon Coleman
DT Ken Bishop

That lasted no time at all, and the turmoil has continued.

Lavar Edwards was cut, signed by the Chicago Bears, cut again, and now has been brought back to the Dallas practice squad.

Randy Gregory was hurt in the first game, and the team hopes he will be back after the bye in week six. Jeremy Mincey was injured, reportedly during the warmups before the second game, and hopes are he will return for the now much more important game this week against the New Orleans Saints. Terrell McClain was lost for the season in that same game. And Davon Coleman was cut on Monday to make room for another player.

David Irving is a big defensive tackle at 6'7" and 273 lb. He is probably being eyed as a 1-tech for passing downs, the role where McClain was doing so well.

This wholesale change is disheartening to say the least as the team tries to stay competitive as they await the end of the Greg Hardy suspension and getting Gregory back. It is not something that could have been foreseen as injuries are not predictable, but it still is a kick right where it hurts the most. And there is more bad news for that game this week.

With the massive collapse of the defense against the Atlanta Falcons, the Cowboys have to find a way to get more pressure on the quarterback, whoever takes the field for the Saints. If Mincey is able to go, it will help, but the team has not gotten what it needs from Lawrence so far, and Tyrone Crawford seemed to be limited after he left the game for several plays in the Falcons debacle. "Next man up" has reached its limit in Dallas, and things are looking grim at the moment.

All the team can do is keep going and hope things start to work out, but the rash of injuries to the rushmen is starting bear a disturbing similarity to 2013, when the team had to keep plugging in players to try and get some production. That did not work out so well.

There is no point in trying to find someone to blame for all this. The initial group of defensive linemen looked good, but the constant stream of injured players continues to take a huge toll. All the coaching in the world can only do so much with the material at hand. Right now, the Cowboys are dealing with a lot less quality than they had just four short weeks ago.

Follow me @TomRyleBTB

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