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Mike McCarthy press conference: Leighton Vander Esch unlikely to play this week, could be out multiple weeks

Coach Mike McCarthy takes questions from the media.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys are on their first win streak of the season. They are also clinging to playoff hopes. Here’s what head coach Mike McCarthy had to say about all that. (All answers are paraphrase and not actual quotes).


Establishing consistency

McCarthy noted that the Cowboys have been able to trout out the same lineup at offensive line for a while now which has helped with the overall continuity up front. He talked about how this is an important factor on both sides of the ball and that you can see things developing in this regard.

Leighton Vander Esch injury

McCarthy noted that of all injured players Leighton Vander Esch has the “farthest to go”. He said he didn’t see Leighton playing on Sunday but that more information would come throughout the week. He added that all he had been made aware of here was that it was an ankle sprain and that it could be multiple weeks.

Improved secondary play

Coach commented it was their best game production-wise, that they got turnovers and got their hands on other passes for possible turnover opportunities. He said that getting turnovers is their number one goal and they had their best game of the year in that respect.

Jalen Hurts preparation

Asked if the Cowboys have gotten work done towards preparing for the Philadelphia Eagles McCarthy noted that this had not yet taken place. He did say it was obvious Hurts has given them a shot in the arm.

Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard have different styles

Coach noted they have versatility, and they make the defense play more at the line of scrimmage. He thought their styles complement each other. He commented Pollard was ready to go and that he’s been playing well lately and is consistent with production based on his attempts and targets. He said no one was surprised he made plays and that his late touchdown run was probably the biggest play of the game.

Kevin Greene

The NFL lost one of its greatest players on Monday when Pro Football Hall of Famer Kevin Greene passed away at the age of 58. Greene notably served on McCarthy’s Green Bay Packers team that won Super Bowl XLV. McCarthy touched on the great person that Kevin Greene was and expressed his condolences towards Kevin’s family and friends.

Approaching Sunday’s game

The Cowboys play in the afternoon slot of this Sunday’s games, but the Carolina Panthers (who they need to win) play the Washington Football Team in the early window. Obviously this means that the Cowboys may be eliminated from NFC East contention (any Washington win takes them out) before they kick off. Asked how he is going to handle this McCarthy said the Cowboys are going to prepare for the Eagles and let the chips fall where they may.

Sean Lee

McCarthy expressed a great deal of admiration for the type of player that Lee has been during McCarthy’s first season with the Cowboys. He said he is always in the building and that he keeps coach’s hours. He said he wins the play pre-snap by diagnosing alignments, pre-snap motion, running back depth, etc. Asked if he’s ever had conversations with Lee about potentially coaching McCarthy noted that they have conversations about a lot of things (he cited that they both grew up near Pittsburgh as an example). McCarthy added that he can’t speak on what Sean’s thoughts are post-career but that he believes the linebacker would make a great coach.

Donovan Wilson energy

Coach noted that his passion, aggressiveness and ball instincts are infectious, and his teammates respond to his style. McCarthy said he makes big tackles and the way he breaks on the ball is excellent. He finished by saying Wilson has stepped up and taken control of the safety position, he makes plays.

Ezekiel Elliott

Asked for a status update on Ezekiel Elliott the head coach said he would anticipate Zeke being further along this week at this time than he was the last two weeks. He said he would anticipate him having a chance to play on Sunday.

Kellen Moore’s play-calling on Sunday

McCarthy said Moore stayed on time and understood the pace of the game. He noted the 49ers are a different defense to play against, and that pass protection was going to be a challenge. He also commented they liked their matchups outside and would have liked to get to that more but there was challenge from the 49ers front seven. He did say that Moore kept them in favorable down and distance situations and they succeeded in the red zone and on a lot of third downs.