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Cowboys have fourth-fewest players on injured reserve, reportedly will sit Ezekiel Elliott vs. Giants

Will the Cowboys be healthy enough when it counts the most - in the playoffs?

Military Hospital Cares For Injured Soldiers As KIA Conflicts Rage On Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images

The Cowboys have not exactly been a model of health this year. Their once dominant O-line has been thrown into disarray by Travis Frederick’s illness and the injuries Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Connor Williams have been dealing with.

Tavon Austin, whom the Cowboys had great hopes for this year, has played all of six games. David Irving was supposed to have a breakout year at defensive tackle but only played 56 snaps this year. Sean Lee has started just five games this season.

Yet outside of of Frederick, none of those players were placed on injured reserve. So using IR as a measure of team health is probably not very accurate, though it is still worth a look.

The caveat here obviously is that at this point in the season, every team has a bunch of players that are banged up, and not all of them are on IR. But at least in terms of IR, the Cowboys have been relatively fortunate this year: With just eight players on IR, the Cowboys are tied for the fourth-fewest in the NFL.

C.J. Goodwin was activated from IR just this week, Noah Brown was activated in Week 10. The players left on IR are Travis Frederick (illness), Terrance Williams (foot), DT Datone Jones (hamstring), WR Cedric Wilson (shoulder), OG Marcus Martin (toe), TE Geoff Swaim (wrist), S Jameill Showers (ACL), OG Parker Ehinger (knee).

390 NFL players have been put on IR so far this season, an average of 12 per team. By far the leading reason provided for putting players on IR are knee injuries suffered (62 general knee injuries, 57 ACL or MCL tears), which is 119 players or almost one third of all players. Here are the leading injuries for players on IR:

  • Knee: 119 (31%)
  • Shoulder: 33 (8%)
  • Ankle: 31 (8%)
  • Foot: 23 (6%)
  • Hamstring: 18 (5%)
  • Concussion: 14 (4%)
  • Neck, Achilles, Groin: 13 each (3%)

Here’s how the league stacks up in terms of players on IR through Week 16. Teams marked in green are the current playoff teams, teams marked in yellow have a chance to make the playoffs today.

Rank Team Players
on IR
Rank Team Players
on IR
Rank Team Players
on IR
1 HOU 5 T9 SEA 10 T22 IND 14
2 CHI 6 T13 BAL 11 T22 PHI 14
3 BUF 7 T13 KC 11 T22 TB 14
T4 ATL 8 T13 NYG 11 26 GB 16
T4 DAL 8 T13 PIT 11 T27 ARI 17
T4 LAR 8 T17 DET 12 T27 CAR 17
T4 MIN 8 T17 NYJ 12 T27 JAC 17
8 LAC 9 T17 TEN 12 30 CIN 18
T9 CLE 10 T20 MIA 13 31 OAK 19
T9 NE 10 T20 SF 13 32 WAS 25
T9 NO 10 T22 DEN 14

While there is no direct link between number of players on IR and teams making the playoffs (the IR-list is too much of a roster-management tool for that) the correlation here is eye-catching: 11 of the 12 current playoff participants rank among the top 16 teams with the fewest players on IR.

And the playoffs are where team health may become a deciding factor. Which is why many playoff-bound teams are resting key starters today - or at least limiting their snap counts.

Including the Cowboys, who look like they will sit Ezekiel Elliott and Zack Martin.

So enjoy the Cowboys’ starters today for as long as they play, and then cheer on the backups as they show their stuff.

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