Cowboys News: Leighton Vander Esch hints at playing status vs Buccaneers on social media

Leighton Vander Esch, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Leighton Vander Esch, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys got a big boost on the injury front to start the week. With the countdown to Monday’s Wild Card showdown against the Buccaneers officially underway, the Cowboys are expected to have Leighton Vander Esch, Johnathan Hankins, and Tyler Biadasz back at practice this week.

Barring a setback, all three players — including DaRon Bland, who left Week 18 with a chest injury —  should be in uniform Monday night.

Bland will bring needed assurance to Dallas’ depleted cornerback room that’ll have to contend with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Julio Jones, while Hankins will pay dividends in the running game against Leonard Fournette.

It’s difficult to calculate whose return is the most important, but Vander Esch and Hankins are right up there given how well they complement each other; Vander Esch can fill the gaps the 340-pound defender manufactures.

For any Cowboys fan in need of assurance before the Wild Card Round, Vander Esch dropped a pretty big hint about his playing status by posting a photo to Instagram of him tackling Fournette back in the 2022 season-opener.

More Cowboys News:

  • Former Cowboys wideout James Washington signed with the Giants’ practice squad after working out for Dallas’ rivals on Tuesday. The Cowboys released Washington last week after he didn’t play an offensive snap in Weeks 16 and 17. He logged one target in his two appearances this season, and will look to provide a spark to a Giants receiver room that’s currently headlined by Darius Slayton, Isaiah Hodgins, and Richie James.
  • After the Broncos requested permission to interview Dan Quinn for their head coaching vacancy, the Panthers did the same with Kellen Moore. Moore interviewed with the Dolphins and Jaguars last offseason before returning to Dallas for his fourth season as the team’s offensive coordinator.
  • In incentive news, Vander Esch cashed a $300,000 bonus after he played 65% of the snaps and Dallas made the playoffs. He could have earned more if not for the injury. Elsewhere, Dorance Armstrong pocketed an extra $250,000 by recording eight or more snacks and making the postseason.
  • Cowboys rookie DE Sam Williams was cited for misdemeanor reckless driving for his role in a December car accident. Williams has been contacted to report himself to the police. It’s unclear if this affects Williams’ playing status for Monday night’s Wild Card game against the Buccaneers.

NFL News:

  • The Commanders fired offensive coordinator Scott Turner after the team finished 24th in points and 20th in yards per game. This news all but confirms Ron Rivera will return for a fourth season as Washington’s head coach.
  • The Ravens and linebacker Roquan Smith agreed to a mammoth five-year extension that’s worth a reported $100 million and includes $60 million guaranteed. This was expected after Baltimore acquired Smith from Chicago, but it further complicates their current conundrum with Lamar Jackson, whose status for Sunday night’s Wild Card game against the Bengals is up in the air.
  • Amid trade speculation surrounding Justin Fields Bears general manager Ryan Poles said he’d have to be “absolutely blown away” to take a QB first overall. That, of course, means nothing until draft night, and the speculation will only continue given Fields was drafted by the previous regime.