Dallas Cowboys: Depth will be more important than ever

Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Between injuries, illness and opt-outs, the Dallas Cowboys season could rely on backups

Injuries are part of the game. We’ve all accepted that. Soon, if the situation doesn’t improve across the United States, we might have to accept that Coronavirus-related illness will also be part of the weekly injury reports. Because of this added risk, depth will be more important than ever for the Dallas Cowboys this season.

On paper, the Cowboys have one of the most talented rosters in years at the top. If there’s any cause for concern heading into the season, it’s depth.

Let’s be clear, the Cowboys have depth on offense. Behind quarterback Dak Prescott is Andy Dalton. Tony Pollard is a capable back Ezekiel Elliott. They’ve got one of the most talented trios of receivers in the league in Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb. The offensive line, while no longer with All-Pro center Travis Frederick, is still plenty talented.

But what happens if the virus infects both Prescott and Dalton? What happens if the Cowboys lose multiple linemen? Working in close proximity, this type of situation could very well happen. Is there enough quality depth on the roster? Teams account for injuries throughout the regular season but this sort of pandemic is uncharted territory.

The defense is even more worrisome. Again, the starting 11, on paper, is about as good as we’ve seen in years. But the lack of depth, particularly on the defensive line and at linebacker, is cause for concern.

The Cowboys already have a ton of question marks at defensive end. DeMarcus Lawrence was the only surefire thing and now, thanks to COVID-19, that may no longer be the case.

While indications are that Lawrence will play this season, there’s no certainty for how long. His wife is due in October and he’s already made his concerns regarding the virus well-known. Should the risk of infection outweigh the reward of playing, there’s a very good chance the Cowboys could lose him for at a few games, if not the entire season. That would obviously be a huge blow for the defense but I don’t think anyone would fault him for opting-out due to safety.

Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee are an incredible trio at linebacker but they’ve each also got an injury history. As if it wasn’t hard enough to stay healthy for 16 games, there’s now the added risk of losing a player to coronavirus.

To make matters worse, the possibility of losing so many key players has another added risk: jeopardizing the health of those players remaining out on the field. Let’s say multiple members of the offensive line come down with injury or illness. Suddenly, you’ve got Dak Prescott, in a contract year, behind a makeshift offensive line. This is how serious injuries can happen.

As we’ve seen with baseball, it’s nearly impossible to keep this virus in check if you’re not playing in a bubble. Infections are an almost certainty. Key players will be lost throughout the season if not from injury, then the virus. How the Dallas Cowboys mitigate these setbacks will be paramount to the team’s success over the course of the season.

Dallas Cowboys 30 greatest players in franchise history. dark. Next

Depth is always an issue for every team. But this season, in particular, it will be more important than ever for these second and third-string players to be ready to jump into action.