Cowboys recent practice squad pickup looks genius after brutal defensive injury

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys
Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys / Richard Rodriguez/GettyImages

The Dallas Cowboys suffered multiple injury scares amid their 33-13 drubbing of the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night.

Rico Dowdle missed a few snaps with an ankle, while defensive backs Malik Hooker (ankle) and Jourdan Lewis (dehydration) were both announced as in-game injuries by the Cowboys' press box before returning to the game.

While all three players were able to return and contribute to the win, the same couldn't be said for defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, who was carted off in the third quarter with an ankle injury and promptly ruled out.

An MRI revealed Hankins suffered a "mild" high-ankle sprain. Not ideal, but certainly not a worse-case scenario given the DT's reaction to the injury. While Hankins is expected to miss time, he's expected back for the playoffs, "if not sooner," per NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport.

Moral victories aside, this is a big blow to the Cowboys defense. Luckily, though, they signed journeyman DT Carl Davis to the practice squad in mid-November to fill the void left by Billy Price, who was moved to practice/squad IR.

Cowboys signing Carl Davis to the practice squad looms large after Johnathan Hankins ankle injury

The Davis signing could be huge in light of Hankins' injury.

Hankins is an underrated piece of the Cowboys defense and isn't far removed from a multi-sack game against the Commanders on Thanksgiving. Those QB takedowns are more of an outlier for Hankins, who specializes at plugging holes against the run with his imposing 6-foot-2, 320-pound frame.

Incredibly, Davis towers over Hankins at 6-foot-5 and 335 pounds. A former third-round pick of the Ravens in 2015, Davis has made 19 career stars in 72 games. He's been a rotational player for most of his career and he'll likely form a platoon with rookie Mazi Smith and Neville Gallimore on rushing downs.

Smith and Gallimore filled in at DT once Hankins went down, and we even saw Osa Odighizuwa assume a bigger role to finish the game.

While Odighizuwa is capable of blowing up running plays, it goes without saying Dan Quinn would prefer to keep him fresh as a pass rusher as he ranks second behind only Aaron Donald among defensive tackles with a 20% pass-rush win rate, per ESPN analytics.

There's a lot of unknown in terms of how the Cowboys will replace Hankins, but having an experienced vet like Davis to promote to the active roster for however long Hankins is shelved is huge given the caliber of opponents on Dallas' rest-of-season schedule.

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