Cowboys initial injury report for Buccaneers clash is best news possible
By Jerry Trotta
The Dallas Cowboys laid an egg in Week 18. There’s no other way to put it. Did they try their hardest to win? Probably not, especially when you consider they attempted a grand total of three (!) play-action passes in the game.
The Cowboys will undoubtedly be sent packing against the Buccaneers if they perform like that again, but it’s fair to assume that wasn’t the real Cowboys. Whether you agree with them going through the motions in their final playoff tune-up, that game was a clear outlier relative to how they’ve played all year.
Getting through the game healthy was the most important thing, after all. With several key players banged up, Dallas could ill-afford another important contributor going down right before the playoffs.
Could you imagine a Micah Parsons, Tony Pollard or Jayron Kearse aggravating their current knocks before the Bucs? No, thank you.
At full-strength, Dallas should handle their business against Tampa Bay. While no team is fully healthy in January, Mike McCarthy’s side is expected to get some major reinforcements for Monday night, per ESPN’s Todd Archer.
Anyone else giddy to see Leighton Vander Esch, Johnathan Hankins, and Tyler Biadasz back at practice? Even better is the fact DaRon Bland should be on the field this week after he left Week 18 with a chest injury and didn’t return.
Cowboys Injury Report: Positive updates on Leighton Vander Esch, Johnathan Hankins, Tyler Biadasz and DaRon Bland
This is fantastic news. Mike McCarthy added he’s “very optimistic” about the playing availability of Vander Esch, Hankins and Biadasz. Vander Esch (shoulder) missed the final three games, while Hankins (pec) missed the final four contests, and Biadasz missed Week 18 with an ankle sprain suffered against the Titans.
McCarty added that the trio “looked very positive today (Monday), so we’ll see where they are on Wednesday, but their arrow is pointing up.”
With Cowboys-Buccaneers getting the Monday night slot, the only non-Saturday/Sunday fixture of Wild Card Weekend, they’ll get an extra day of rest — two when taking into account the Saturday games — to get these players ready.
That’s a pretty huge deal. The Cowboys’ defense has sorely missed Vander Esch and Hankins’ impact against the run. Vander Esch brings extra value with his ability to play sideline-to-sideline and snuff out short passes, while Dallas has allowed nearly an extra yard per carry in Hankins’ extended absence.
On Wednesday, the Cowboys formally opened Hankins’ 21-day practice window. The expectation is he’ll be in uniform Monday night.
Biadasz’s potential return, meanwhile, would bring needed stability to an offensive line that got bullied against Washington’s front seven.
While Jason Peters and Tyron Smith held their own in pass pro, both veteran tackles were exposed in the run game. Biadasz’s return could set everything back into place, though the rushing attack admittedly hasn’t been the same since Terence Steele’s season-ending injury.
Is it crazy to say Bland’s status for Monday night is the most important of these players, though? That’s no dig at Vander Esch, Hankins, or Biadasz, but the thought of Dallas being without Bland, who’s developed into a key player in the secondary as a rookie, to contend with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin is horrifying.
Still a long way to go before Monday night, but Cowboys fans couldn’t have asked for a better injury report to start the week.