Cowboys get amazing injury news before playoff game vs Packers

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The Dallas Cowboys would love to have Trevon Diggs and Leighton Vander Esch on their playoff roster, but fans have to feel good about where the roster stands from a health standpoint going into the playoffs.

More often than not, the healthiest team is the one left standing after the Super Bowl and the Cowboys caught multiple breaks in that regard as they finished the regular season as the No. 2 seed in the NFC.

Their latest break came in the form of Stephon Gilmore, who injured his shoulder in Week 18 and didn't return. Gilmore's MRI didn't reveal any significant damage and he told reporters this week that he popped it back into place, all the while expressing optimism that he'd play Sunday against the Packers.

Sure enough, Gilmore returned to practice on Thursday and Friday. He did his usual footwork drills and tested the shoulder on the jugs machine and in traffic drills. The veteran corner was in full pads and wore the shoulder harness he expects to use to protect the shoulder.

Barring an unforeseen change, Gilmore will be on the field Sunday without restrictions, wrapping the week without a game designation. That's amazing news for the Cowboys.

Cowboys injury report: Stephon Gilmore and Tyler Smith expected to play vs Packers

A former Defensive Player of the Year in 2019, Gilmore has a penchant for coming up clutch in big moments. He shined in the Cowboys' must-win game against the Eagles in Week 18 and forced a key fumble on A.J. Brown in the third quarter. He's had a number of other signature moments this season as well.

For the season, Gilmore only allowed 50 catches on 91 targets, which equates to a lowly 54.9 completion rate. He allowed a 84.3 passer rating and posted two interceptions, nine pass breakups and a 76.1 run-defense grade, per PFF. It's hard to put into words how invaluable Gilmore is to the Cowboys defense.

Moving beyond Gilmore, the Cowboys will also have nose tackle Johnathan Hankins on Sunday. Hankins returned from a three-game absence in Week 18 and didn't suffer any setbacks. His presence will be huge against Aaron Jones and Green Bay's rushing attack, as evidenced by this jarring stat.

The only questionable Cowboy, as of this writing, is backup QB Cooper Rush, who is suffering from an illness. We'll have to wait and see whether he dresses behind Dak Prescott.

Tyler Smith is the Cowboys' only other prominent injury concern. Though Smith missed Week 18 with a torn plantar fascia, he's expected to play against the Packers. It stands to reason Smith would've played last week if it was a must-win game. It seems Dallas had an eye on the playoffs in deciding to rest Smith in the finale.

T.J. Bass flashed real promise in Smith's place, but Smith is arguably the best left guard in football. His 17 pressures allowed were the third-fewest among guards and he allowed just one sack on 608 pass-blocking snaps, per PFF (subscription required). He's also a force in the run game, as his 72.9 run-blocking grade ranked sixth at the position.

No game is won on the injury report, but having Gilmore, Hankins and Smith all available on Sunday bodes extremely well for the Cowboys.

More Cowboys news and rumors: