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Examining which Cowboys player the team absolutely can not afford to lose for the season

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Who is the one starter the Cowboys can ill-afford to lose?

Dallas Cowboys v Detroit Lions Photo by Rob Leiter/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys are a good football team. They have stars at the top, and they have quality players down at the bottom. The front office has done a fantastic job finding good players and shoring up the depth on this current roster.

In past seasons, they haven’t always been so lucky. A costly injury to a key player turned out to completely throw them off the tracks. Losing players like Tony Romo, Tyron Smith, and Sean Lee have all proved detrimental to the team as they didn’t have adequate reserves in place to weather the storm of their absences.

Could things be a little different now? Could this be the year they have all their bases covered? What is the one area where they are the most vulnerable? Let’s work through this together by examining a few of the team’s ten most important players and determine which player would result in the biggest loss for the Cowboys.

DAK PRESCOTT

Next man up: Andy Dalton

It starts with the quarterback, right? In year’s past for the Cowboys, it would also end with the quarterback as the team had multiple inadequate options behind the starter. Of course, if that year was 2016, we learned that losing the starter wasn’t the end of the season. That’s because Dak Prescott turned out to be pretty fantastic. To this day, he’s the only rookie quarterback to throw three touchdown passes in a playoff game.

Prescott played so well that he never gave up the reins at quarterback, so now someone else is the backup. And while Cooper Rush may make fans a little squeamish about the possibility of losing Dak, some of that uneasiness has gone away with the addition of veteran Andy Dalton. Nine years in the league, three Pro Bowl appearances, and a couple of 4,200+ yard seasons to his name, the Cowboys have a solid backup to help steer the offense.

DANGER LEVEL

DEMARCUS LAWRENCE

Next man up: Dorance Armstrong

There’s a lot of things up in the air when it comes to the Cowboys edge rushing group. For starters, what’s Aldon Smith going to mean to the team? Will his contribution be closer to his All-Pro former self, or will he play like a guy who’s missed the last four seasons? Then, there’s Randy Gregory. Is he even going to be playing? The team also has veteran Tyrone Crawford who could be in line for early down work on the edge regardless of these other guys, but things start to thin out after that.

There are a lot of young promising players like Dorance Armstrong, Joe Jackson, and Bradlee Anae, but these guys are unproven. If something were to happen to Tank, the defense runs the risk of rendering the pass rush ineffective. Something like that could take the wheels of the defense.

DANGER LEVEL

ZACK MARTIN

Next man up: Connor McGovern

We just want to take a moment to mention that Tyron Smith isn’t making this list. That’s not to say losing him to injury wouldn’t be a concerning thing. It would. But the Cowboys have made improvements at the swing tackle position since the whole Chaz Green debacle. Now, they have Brandon Knight, who filled in admirably for La’el Collins last season. And they also added former first-round pick Cameron Erving as well. The team has a couple different options.

What could sting; however, is if Zack Martin goes down. They have some intriguing names on their bench with second-year player Connor McGovern and rookie Tyler Biadasz, but neither has played an NFL game yet. To further complicate things, the loss of Martin would partner one of those young guys with Joe Looney and Connor Williams. Suddenly, the Cowboys interior offensive line would be vulnerable.

DANGER LEVEL

EZEKIEL ELLIOTT

Next man up: Tony Pollard

Many people would love to see Tony Pollard become more involved in the offense, but this isn’t how we want it to happen. Ezekiel Elliott is the workhorse back who keeps this offense churning, and to suddenly not have him wouldn’t be pleasant. Zeke’s strung together three 1,300+ yard seasons in his first four years in the league, and it would’ve been all four had he not served a six-game suspension in 2017.

With Pollard on the team, the Cowboys are much more equipped to handle Elliott’s absence, but the young receiving back has never been in a lead back role. Even in college, he split time with Darrell Henderson, who was selected a round ahead of him in last year’s draft. It’s unclear how he’d hold up with the extra work or how much it would change the dynamic of the offense. Elliott alleviates a lot of pressure from Prescott, and it’s easy to forget just how much he means to this team.

DANGER LEVEL

Poll

Losing this player would hurt the Cowboys the most...

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Dak Prescott
    (321 votes)
  • 32%
    DeMarcus Lawrence
    (409 votes)
  • 27%
    Zack Martin
    (349 votes)
  • 10%
    Ezekiel Elliott
    (137 votes)
  • 4%
    Other, listed below in comments
    (55 votes)
1271 votes total Vote Now