After suffering as a knee injury against the Oakland Raiders, the Dallas Cowboys reportedly fear linebacker Anthony Hitchens has been lost for the season.
The Dallas Cowboys were able to come away with their third win of the preseason, defeating the Oakland Raiders at AT&T Stadium Saturday night, 24-20. But the victory came at a high cost.
Starting middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens appeared to injury his knee late in the first half of the preseason contest. After spending several moments down on the field, Hitchens had to be helped off the field, skipped the sidelines and went directly to get a x-ray.
NFL Networks’ Ian Rapoport is reporting that his sources say the Cowboys fear that they have lost the 25-year old linebacker for the entire season.
Hitchens is coming off arguably his best training camp performance as a professional and was expected to be the team’s Week One starter against the New York Giants. A possible season-ending injury really puts a monkey wrench in the Cowboys’ defensive plans.
Without Hitchens in the lineup, it’s unlikely Dallas would turn to former 2016 second round draft selection, Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith, to take his place in the starting lineup. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones all but confirmed that following Saturday’s game.
Instead, it will likely be either Damien Wilson or Justin Durant now elevated to that starting role at middle linebacker. The Cowboys could also turn to linebackers Kyle Wilber or Mark Nzeocha as well. The fact is, Dallas has plenty of options. But none of them can replace Hitchens, who was on pace to have a career-year.
A fourth round selection out of Iowa back in 2014, Hitchens is in the final year of his rookie contract in Dallas. And with the selection of Jaylon Smith in last year’s draft, some believed this could be Hitch’s final season in Dallas.
Last year, Hitchens recorded a career-high 78 total tackles and had 1.5 sacks. The extent of his injury will not be known until an MRI can be performed, but the news seems grim.
With yet another defender lost, the Dallas Cowboys’ sideline is suddenly looking more like a emergency room waiting area. And it is starting to feel more and more like inexperience within Dallas’ defense could be the weight that drags down the Cowboys season.