Dallas Cowboys: Retirement and injury wrecking havoc on linebacker corps


When news broke on Saturday that a Dallas Cowboys linebacker had torn his ACL in camp, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was Sean Lee. This time, it was the recently acquired Justin Jackson.

Jackson, out of Wake Forest, went undrafted in 2014 and has spent time on the Detroit Lions, Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders and the Washington Redskins rosters. While he may not have been considered a lock to make the team, it’s never nice to see player go down so early in the year. Unfortunately for Jackson, this is an injury he knows all too well. In 2010, he tore his ACL in Wake Forest’s opening game of the year.

More from The Landry Hat

Flash back to this time last year and sports pages were full of doom and gloom for the Cowboys. Lee had been rule out for a year after suffering an ACL tear of his own. The coaching staff are wanting to ease their star linebacker back gently, with Lee’s first practice limited. While the team padded up, Lee worked out one on one with a trainer. But #50 assured fans there’s nothing to worry about.

"“It’s precautionary. I’m good.”"

The linebacker corps was already reinforced earlier this week with a return of a couple of familiar faces. Keith Smith bounced between the active roster and practice squad in 2014. In total he played ten games for the Cowboys before being cut in May. Bryan Broaddus noted on the Cowboys site that Smith looks fit and motivated.

"“Smith is in good condition and his movement skills were similar to how he looked while he was last with the team…Will McClay and the staff have found a player that is ready to plug in and go to work with.”"

Will Smith is the latest addition to the group. A seventh round draft pick for the Cowboys last year, Smith spent some time on the practice squad.

This linebacker group is still a work in process. Veteran Keith Rivers who was a new signing for the Cowboys in 2015 surprisingly retired last week. Rolando McClain is to sit out four games suspended and still has to convince some he’s a committed member of the roster. And Sean Lee on his day can be one of the very best in the league, but his injury history will always be a concern.

There’s now nine linebackers on the roster with a variety of experience.

height: 6-2 weight: 252. JASPER BRINKLEY. #54. Career Stats: 82 games, 172 tackles, 1 sack, 5 forced fumbles. age: 30

#50. Career Stats: 46 games, 193 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 11 interceptions. age: 29. height: 6-2 weight: 238. SEAN LEE

Career Stats: 54 games, 244 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions. age: 26. height: 6-4 weight: 259. ROLANDO MCCLAIN. #55

#52. Career Stats: 63 games, 92 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble. age: 26. height: 6-2 weight: 224. ANDREW GACHKAR

#51. Career Stats: 44 games, 50 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception. age: 26. height: 6-4 weight: 245. KYLE WILBER

#59. Career Stats: 18 games, 73 tackles, 1 interception. age: 23. height: 6-0 weight: 235. ANTHONY HITCHENS

#45. Rookie. age: 22. height: 6-0 weight: 243. DAMIEN WILSON

#47. Rookie. age: 25. height: 6-3 weight: 239. MARK NZEOCHA

age: 22. height: 6-1 weight: 230. DONNIE BAGGS. #46. Rookie

A total of eleven linebackers featured for the Cowboys throughout the 2014 season. Just how different the current corps will change remains to be seen. Let’s hope that this week sees the last of the ACL tears and surprise retirements.

Next: The worst kept secret within Cowboys training camp