We start off with some Cowboys injuries news. While the belief was that linebacker Anthony Hitchens tore his ACL, according to a report from Ian Rapoport, Hitchens’ season is actually not over per ESPN’s Cowboys insider Todd Archer.
Cowboys MLB Anthony Hitchens suffered a tibial plateau fracture in his right knee and will need 8 weeks to recover, per @toddarcher.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 27, 2017
When Anthony Hitchens went down to close out the first half against the Raiders, it certainly seemed as though he would likely miss the 2017 season. Reports surfaced of the organization fearing he tore his ACL, however, Todd Archer cleared that up.
Anthony Hitchens is scheduled to need about eight weeks to recover and will return sometime in October. This is actually great news for the Cowboys who were counting on him to be their starting middle linebacker. Hitchens had one of the better training camps as he solidified his spot next to Sean Lee. He also happens to be in his final year on his rookie deal with the Cowboys.
The good news for Dallas is that the team feels confident even without their starting linebacker. Helman writes that it’s now Justin Durant’s time to step up for the Cowboys and that Stephen Jones has “a lot of confidence and trust in him”.
Instead, if Hitchens does miss extensive playing time, it sounds like the contingency plan falls to Justin Durant. The Cowboys re-signed the veteran linebacker in July, likely as an insurance policy for Wilson. He has been with the team through the duration of training camp but has yet to play in a preseason game – though that is by design.
“We’ve been going real slow with him,” Stephen Jones said. “He’s a wily veteran, he knows our defense, he knows what’s expected of him. We have a lot of confidence and trust in him, we just haven’t wanted to rush him in. But he could’ve played tonight.”
With Hitch out for eight weeks, the Cowboys know have to find a plan B. Durant is one option, but who else? Can Jaylon Smith step up for Dallas?
Durant played in 13 games a year ago in a reserve role and was credited with 54 tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, six quarterback pressures and four pass deflections. But he has had injury troubles throughout his career.
When Lee went out after 15 snaps Saturday, Smith came on the field. He was credited with three tackles and a tackle for loss but he did not play in the second half. He has not played a full game since Nov. 28, 2015 when Notre Dame lost to Stanford.
“I feel like myself,” Smith said. “I feel like myself and I’m out there moving fast. It’s just a great opportunity to be out there.”
Hitch will miss up to eight weeks, but Phantom argues why the loss is not as bad as you might think.
The Cowboys defense is something that is going to stress us out at times, but the loss of Hitchens shouldn’t. The team still has Jaylon Smith, Damien Wilson, and Justin Durant on the roster to help fill in. Will they be as good as the often-underrated-but-suddenly-appreciated Hitchens? No. But they won’t be too far off. The Cowboys also play nickel and dime quite a bit so the need for three linebackers on the field at once isn’t high.
Some people will say that these other guys have their own causes for concern. Can Smith stay healthy and perform consistently enough to be useful? What is going on with Wilson’s off-field issue, will he even be available? And we haven’t even seen Durant yet, who’s to say he can stay healthy and play well enough to suffice? These are legitimate thoughts to ponder. And if something goes awry with one of them, then yes - then it becomes time to worry.
But right now, it’s not. This is a deep team. The Cowboys have lost these players in the preseason over the last three seasons: Sean Lee (2014), Orlando Scandrick (2015), and Tony Romo (2016). Two of these seasons turned out to be pretty good for the Cowboys. Escaping the 2017 preseason with only losing Hitchens is certainly the lesser of evils when compared to those other guys.
The Cowboys were not the only team that suffered an injury to a key player this week. Seifert goes through the biggest injuries of the preseason’s third week, including the Patriot’s Julian Edelman and Chiefs’ Spencer Ware — who are both done for the year.
LB Anthony Hitchens, Dallas Cowboys
Injury: Feared torn right ACL
Prognosis: If tests Sunday confirm it, Hitchens will miss the season. He was set to serve as the starting middle linebacker and had started 36 of 48 games since the Cowboys made him a fourth-round draft choice in 2014. In his likely absence, the Cowboys could shift Sean Lee or Jaylon Smith to middle linebacker.
As we know now, Hitchens did not tear his ACL. That’s better news for the Cowboys.
Former Colts offensive lineman and current ESPN analyst gives his thoughts on the Hitchens injury for the Cowboys:
“This is tough for this team. Injuries and suspensions have already got them handicapped, so now what is your next play? Does Justin Durant come in and start? Do you move Sean Lee back over to the middle? Does Jaylon Smith now get more reps than you anticipated coming back from a horrific knee injury that he suffered in college?
But the one positive is that there are a lot of moves that you could make.”
Despite the hopefulness and optimism surrounding Jaylon Smith, Hill writes that the Cowboys will not change their plans for their 2016 second-round draft pick.
Executive vice president Stephen Jones said a potential season-ending knee injury to starting middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens won’t change the team’s deliberate return plan for Smith.
“We’ll stick with our plan with him,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said of Jaylon Smith. “You don’t jeopardize a guy’s future over anything like that, but as you know, Jaylon’s coming along. The plan was all along was for him to be ready to play for the Giants. Now are we going to throw him in there for 60-something plays? I don’t think so, but a lot of that is just going to depend on what he’s ready for. My guess is probably not.”
Hitchens wasn’t the only injury that the Cowboys suffered on Saturday night, unfortunately. Chaz Green is dealing with yet another injury, leading to believe that it is Jonathan Cooper’s job to loose at left guard.
The Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman exited Saturday’s game late in the second quarter with an ankle injury and headed straight to the locker room. Green started at left guard and may be the best option for that job on the Cowboys roster.
But Green can’t seem to stay on the field. He exited Tuesday’s training camp practice with cramps, but returned Wednesday.
Green has battled injuries ever since he joined the Cowboys as a third-round pick in 2015. He missed his entire rookie season with a hip injury, and played only four games, including two starts at left tackle, last season with foot and back injuries.
After all of the injuries this week during games that do not count in the record books, Rick Gosselin writes that the NFL needs to adjust its preseason schedule moving forward.
Halftime couldn't get there soon enough for the Cowboys on Saturday night against the Raiders.
With 5:24 remaining in the second quarter, quarterback Dak Prescott was buried under a sack of 300-pound defensive tackle Treyvon Hester. With 1:52 remaining, Prescott was flushed from the pocket and running for his life to escape blitzing linebacker Tyrell Adams, who barged into the backfield untouched. Prescott eventually fired the football into the turf to end both the play and the pursuit by Adams.
After that whistle, Cowboys offensive tackle Chaz Green lay crumpled on the field with an ankle injury. He was helped from the field and was done for the night. Then with 19 seconds remaining, play was stopped to attend to the injured Hitchens.
The NFL needs to reduce the number of preseason schedule from four games to two, giving every team one at home and one on the road.
It wasn’t all bad for the Cowboys, however, as Cooper Rush continues to impress this August. He again makes yet another case to be QB2. Will the Cowboys keep three signal callers on the roster?
If the worst case scenario were to happen (knocks on wood that it does not come to that), Rush looks to be the guy that has the best chance to give the Cowboys hope without Dak behind center. Like Dak, albeit against lesser competition, Coop appears to have the trait of making players around him better. If that’s the case, the Cowboys are in good hands in the QB room.
If this game is any indication, the coaches have realized what the fans have been screaming: Cooper Rush needs to be Dak Prescott’s primary backup quarterback in 2017. At the very least, the staff has given Rush a legitimate chance to overtake Kellen on the depth chart. Based on how much playing time the two backups received on Saturday, Moore looks to have been demoted to the third string quarterback on the roster, which is the correct move for the team. Rush gives the offense a much, much better chance of moving the football — much less finding the end zone — than 17 does.
The question is: will Kellen Moore be on Dallas’ 53-man roster come September 2nd? This will be an intriguing situation to monitor.
Halprin gives his five winners and four losers from Saturday’s contest. Cooper Rush is an obvious winner after officially landing a 53-man roster spot per Jerry Jones.
Cooper Rush - He got the second string QB reps and in the process guaranteed himself a spot on the roster. His night started a little slow, and he did fumble the ball that turned into a score for the Raiders (even though it wasn’t really his fault), but he ended up going 12 of 13 for 115 yards, two touchdowns and a 143.1 rating. He should be the backup.
Jaylon just being on the field is good enough to be named a winner, too.
Jaylon Smith - A second week of good play without incident with the knee is a winner. Smith increased his workload ever so slightly and ended up with three tackles including a tackle for loss. He’s still not 100% Godbacker, and who knows if he will ever be again, but he’s looking like he can play and should continue to get better.
So, what does Coop’s big preseason mean for the other backup QB on the roster?
Still it is that all-world football IQ that might keep Moore on the roster in Dallas. That is what has kept Moore in the league since 2012. He has been with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan since the time they were both with the Detroit Lions. He understands the offensive mindset of Linehan better than any man on the field.
Fans may scoff at the idea, but teams find value in that notion.
Moore’s understanding of the concepts provides a second set of eyes and a sounding board for his coach. Regardless of his limited action, Moore is there to question things from the passer’s perspective. That is a good thing to have with a second-year quarterback as your starter and likely a rookie as his backup.
The world of sports takes a backseat this week due to the unfortunate circumstances unfolding in Houston. Hurrican Harvey is having a huge impact on south Texas, wrecking havoc and forcing families to evacuate due to the storm. Due to the damage caused, the Houston Texans released a statement stating that the team will travel to Dallas, but that there “have been no decisions made on the duration of the stay”.
Statement from the Houston Texans on the team's delayed return to Houston due to Hurricane Harvey: pic.twitter.com/nPpvMMBNGt— Texans PR (@TexansPR) August 27, 2017
The Texans are scheduled to play the Cowboys in their final preseason game on Thursday night at NRG Stadium. If weather forecasts are correct, the flooding in the Houston area could last through Wednesday.
The NFL has not yet released a statement on what will happen with that game Thursday.
Many of the player’s families are back in Houston, suffering through the storm which is seeing historic floods throughout the Houston area.
The Cowboys will host the Texans this upcoming Thurday because of Hurricane Harvey.
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past week, you are aware of the impact that Hurricane Harvey on the Texas coast. There is severe flooding and devastation throughout the region and the last thing anyone in the area needs to worry about is football.
The Houston Texans played their third preseason contest in New Orleans this weekend and rather than making an attempt to return to the Bayou City the team will instead fly into Dallas. It is not known when the Texans will find themselves able to return to their own facilities.
Mother nature is not doing anything to make it easy for the team to return to its own facilities in the near future. With Harvey stalled in the area there is no relief in sight from the flooding. Rains are forecast throughout the upcoming week.
Cowboys VP Stephen Jones says that “our doors are open to help them (Bob McNair and the Texans) out.”
The team added that there had not been a decision made about Thursday’s preseason game against the Cowboys. That game is slated to be played in Houston, but Cowboys Executive Vice President Stephen Jones said last week that AT&T Stadium would be made available if extreme weather prevents Houston from hosting the game.
“We think so much of [Texans owner Bob] McNair and the Texans, and if we can help them in any way, then obviously our doors are open to help them out,” Jones said Friday.
Stay safe, Houston and everybody that is effected by the storm.