Cowboys defensive leader DeMarcus Lawrence suffered a broken foot Wednesday in practice, the result of which will keep him out of action for an extended period of time.
Sources estimated he could miss at least six to eight weeks with a fractured fifth metatarsal, which will require surgery to repair. This is the second time he fractured his foot, having done so in training camp as a rookie in 2014.
Lawrence, 29, is a two-way force on the left edge of the Cowboys defense, disruptive against both the run and pass. He plays with an extremely high motor, shedding blocks to impact plays in his direction but also chasing down action in back-side pursuit. Last Thursday, he recorded a team-high five quarterback pressures and punched out a forced fumble against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With a $17 million salary and $25 million cap hit, Lawrence is the highest-paid Dallas defender.
On Wednesday evening, Lawrence posted on Instagram he will “be back and ready for war. Believe that.”
While most of the Cowboys news the past week has been negative, one good development has been the return of Zack Martin from the Reserve/Covid-19 list. Against the Chargers on the road, the offense will need him.
The six-time Pro Bowl guard spent all last week on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and could not play in last Thursday’s season opener against the Tampa Bay Bucs.
“It was very frustrating, especially the timing,” he said. “But this is the world we live in right now and I’m definitely not going to be the last guy this year that’s dealing with this. We’ve just got to deal with it when it comes our way.”
Martin has cleared COVID protocol and returned to the active roster this week. Wednesday’s practice went well, he said, and he feels fine after several days of rest at home.
“It was a long week, but I’m happy to be back,” he said.
Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott questions football IQ of critics of his Week 1 play - Clarence E. Hill Jr, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Against the Buccaneers in the opener, Zeke was deployed heavily as added pass protection against Tampa’s stout defensive line. His rather modest 11 carries and 33 yards prompted heavy criticism from a number of fans. Elliott was equally critical in response.
But the two-time NFL rushing champion has no patience for anyone using his production against the Buccaneers as a referendum on his worth or his importance to the team’s performance.
“If you know football, then you can tell someone had a solid game without having the best statistics,” Elliott said. “I feel if you’re saying that, maybe they should be studying a little bit more.”
And by all accounts from the Cowboys, Elliott had an outstanding game in terms of helping the offense with his blocking in a passing game that saw quarterback Dak Prescott post a career-high with 58 attempts.
The Buccaneers’ game plan was to stop the run and force the Cowboys to throw the ball.
Cowboys coaches say practicing against Dak preps defense for Chargers QB Justin Herbert - Todd Brock, Cowboys Wire
Justin Herbert shined last season as a rookie quarterback, and his weapons at receiver and tight end give him plenty of firepower. The Cowboys' defense believes practicing against Dak Prescott has prepared them for such a task.
The rocket-armed Oregon product will pose a whole different kind of threat to the Cowboys than Tom Brady did on opening night, but Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn thinks his unit may be better prepared to contain Herbert than most, based on who his players see in practice every day.
“Outside the pocket,” Quinn told reporters this week, “this is a player that can really create on the move, much like Dak does where he gets outside, and now he can rip the ball down the field.”
And when Herbert goes off-script, just as when Prescott does it, things can get especially tricky for a defense.
“When you have a player who can do that, it’s almost like defending two plays,” Quinn explained. “Here’s the first play: the quarterback’s in the pocket on a passing play. The second play? Outside the pocket. And that’s when plays get extended four, five, six, seven seconds. He’s got the arm strength to deliver it all the way here, to all the way back over to the other side.”
Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb is focused on learning from dropped passes after season opener - Calvin Watkins, DMN
The Cowboys young receiver is looking for a breakout season, but knows he needs to get rid of the drops.
Dallas wide receiver CeeDee Lamb produced a wonderful Week 1 game against Tampa Bay. He caught seven passes for 104 yards and one touchdown.
Yet there were two drops in the loss to the Buccaneers that bothered the second-year player.
“I’m a very prideful person,” Lamb said after Wednesday’s practice. “Just as far as the drops, it was very unfortunate and it was just all in my head. I was in my own head, it was just a lot going on. But as far as finishing the game, I can’t let that really just be the way I play throughout the whole game. Just from the first drop in the first couple of series, the team stayed positive and stayed focused and attacked.”
Lamb’s first drop came in the first quarter when a Dak Prescott pass hit him in the chest. On the previous play, Lamb tried to make a sliding catch only for the ball to bounce off his shoulder pads. You could question if that play was a drop, but it was clear a third quarter pass was. Prescott sent a pass to Lamb in traffic that bounced off his hands and was intercepted by cornerback Carlton Davis.
David Howman gives us a great history lesson on the rare meeting between Dallas and the Chargers. The good news is that, while the series has been incredibly balanced, Dallas is hardly in the same boat it was in 2017, even if some of the key faces remain the same.
The last time these two teams played happens to be the one game Dak Prescott faced the Chargers, although it was at the lowest point in his career. It was just the third game since Ezekiel Elliott was out serving his suspension, and the Cowboys had scored exactly one touchdown in the prior two games. Taking place on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys continued their string of offensive ineptitude. Rod Smith ran in for a touchdown, but Dak was intercepted twice and struggled to get comfortable against the pass rushing duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Rivers, meanwhile, tossed three touchdowns to score a big 28-6 win.
The good news for Dallas is that Prescott is light years ahead of the player he was back in 2017, and he has an offensive coordinator capable of producing with or without Ezekiel Elliott rushing for big gains every play, as Dallas proved Thursday. The Chargers, however, have their own star in the making in reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert. Dallas leads the all-time series 6-5, so a Chargers win would tie things up while also extending the Cowboys’ losing streak in this matchup. It would also lead to a 0-2 record, which greatly decreases a team’s playoff odds. It feels a little early in the season to label something as “must win,” but the Cowboys would feel much better if they snap the streak on Sunday.
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