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Cowboys news: Dorance Armstrong could miss three weeks with high ankle sprain

The hits keep coming to the revamped defense. Just as Randy Gregory returns, Keanu Neal and Dorance Armstrong exit.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports

Source: Cowboys DE Dorance Armstrong likely out next three games with high ankle sprain - Calvin Watkins, DMN

The Cowboys defense can’t seem to catch a break early in the season. While moving Micah Parsons into more pass-rushing situations provided substantial returns against the Chargers, overall defensive line depth continues to thin. This time, it’s Dorance Armstrong reportedly facing a lengthy absence.

Normally a high-ankle sprain is a four-to-six week injury, but team officials are hopeful it won’t be that long.

On Monday, coach Mike McCarthy said Armstrong came out of the Chargers game with an ankle sprain but his status wasn’t determined until now.

Without Armstrong, it gives the Cowboys flexibility of using Parsons at end again and possibly giving rookie Chauncey Golston some playing time. Golston, a third-round pick, was active for the Chargers game but didn’t play.

Keanu Neal placed on Reserve/COVID-19 List - Rob Phillips, DallasCowboys.com

The Cowboys defense put together another strong performance Sunday against the Chargers, but now might be without Keanu Neal Monday night against the Eagles for the team’s home opener.

It’s uncertain if Neal will be cleared in time for Monday’s home opener against the Eagles, but the Cowboys will have to prepare this week to play without him. Gregory, right guard Zack Martin and backup offensive lineman Brandon Knight were previously on Reserve/COVID, and all missed one game because they didn’t clear protocol in time.

Neal to Reserve/COVID is the latest challenge for a Cowboys defense hit by injuries early in the season. He started at middle linebacker in Week 1 and has been a regular in the linebacker rotation, playing 50 and 51 snaps against the Bucs and Chargers. He ranks sixth on defense with eight tackles (one for loss).

Gregory’s expected return will boost the Cowboys’ defensive end rotation, particularly with fellow starter DeMarcus Lawrence on Reserve/Injured for a few more weeks following foot surgery. But Dorance Armstrong sprained his ankle against the Chargers and his availability for Monday night against the Eagles is yet to be determined.

Would Keanu Neal’s absence affect Parsons? - David Helman, DallasCowboys.com

With Neal unlikely to be ready by Monday night’s home opener, the Cowboys face a new dilemma —move Parsons back to linebacker, or keep him at defensive end to rush the athletic and mobile Jalen Hurts?

Without either of their starting defensive ends against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Cowboys’ coaching staff deployed Parsons as an edge rusher for the first time in his career.

As has been well-documented, the results were wildly successful, as Parsons played 39 snaps and finished with eight pressures and a game-changing sack of Justin Herbert.

“They set me up to do those things, gave me a lot of one-on-ones,” he said. “They knew it was real sudden so they were like we just want you to go fast.”

It fits the early theme of this season that personnel losses might once again the Cowboys to change course. Just as Gregory returns to the roster, Dorance Armstrong is also questionable with an ankle sprain. And losing Neal to the COVID list means Dan Quinn’s defense will be without a linebacker who is well-suited to defending Hurts – a former safety who can keep pace better than most.

The dilemma is obvious. Should Parsons stay where he played in Week 2, or might be revert back to Week 1’s more traditional linebacker role. Or, in an effort to get the most bang for their buck, might the Cowboys try both? If that’s what he’s asked to do, Parsons thinks he’s up to the task.

Troy Aikman: Cowboys defense ‘probably should be getting a lot more credit’ - Sports Day Staff, DMN

Troy joined The Musers on 1310/96.7 FM The Ticket this week and heaped praise on not just the defense but rookie Micah Parsons in particular.

“That was a huge win for them. You don’t want to ever start feeling too good about yourself, especially after two games, but I think that you go into the year, and you’re optimistic, and you feel that you’re going to be better in some areas and in some areas like offensively, you feel you’re gonna be really good and I think after two games you’d have to say that you’re pretty pleased with what we’ve seen up to this point.

“What I’ve seen is kind of what I had thought going in was that there would be a much better defense and considering what they have on the offensive side of the ball, that it would be a complimentary piece, which is what most teams are looking for. If they’re great on defense, they’re looking for that on offense. There are a few teams like Tampa, that are really good on both sides of the ball. The way the defense played on Sunday and what they’ve done the last two weeks and creating the takeaways — that’s always been a little bit of a problem — has really helped them. This defense probably should be getting a lot more credit.”

Former Dallas Cowboys player binged ‘Survivor’ and is now competing in 41st season - Stefan Stevenson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Danny McCray joins Jimmy Johnson as a former Cowboy-turned-Survivor contestant after binging 20 seasons’ worth of the show’s history.

McCray played six seasons in the NFL, including five with the Cowboys and one with the Chicago Bears. He started 10 games at strong safety for Dallas in 2012 and was a fixture on special teams his entire career. He retired after the 2015 season. McCray helps run the Dallas Cowboys Youth Football Program.

Of course, McCray, 33, couldn’t divulge any details on how the season went. Not even his wife knows how he did.

“You’re not supposed to tell anyone. I wanted to keep it that way because I wanted everyone to be excited as they watch the entire season and not know how it ended,” he said. “So if [my run] ends on Episode 1 or ends on the last episode, I wanted them to be excited to be happy to see what I do best.”

Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch played well with increased snaps vs Chargers - Matthew Lenix, Inside The Star

A major storyline after the opener against Tampa was the light usage of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch and whether or not that signaled a changing of the guard in the Dallas linebacking corps. In Week 2, both LVE and Smith were called on to play significant roles, and to their credit, each delivered.

In the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Smith only logged 16 snaps and Vander only had 14. However, with Parsons getting more snaps at defensive end, they each saw a lot more playing time against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2, and they didn’t disappoint.

Smith registered 54 snaps last week. He finished a team-high nine tackles (six solo tackles). According to Pro Football Focus, Smith had an 80.5 coverage grade and a 78.5 tackle grade. What is encouraging about his performance is he looked to play with the speed and violence bringing down ball carriers as he did in years past. Also, played well in space by making a couple of key stops on third down.

Vander Esch saw his snaps jump up to 37 against the Chargers. He amassed seven tackles (second on the team) a sack, and an 83.1 pas rush grade per PFF. “The Wolf Hunter” as he’s known has never lacked talent just the ability to stay on the field as he missed 13 games over the previous two seasons.

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