Cowboys fans need to temper expectations for high draft pick after injury update

This Cowboys 2023 draft pick is missing valuable practice reps.
Nov 6, 2021; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA;  Michigan Wolverines tight end Luke Schoonmaker (86)
Nov 6, 2021; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines tight end Luke Schoonmaker (86) / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Training camp is less than two days old and the Dallas Cowboys are already nursing a number of injuries.

At Wednesday's inaugural practice, Donovan Wilson went down with a calf strain that's expected to sideline him 4-6 weeks, and promising safety Israel Mukuamu suffered a hamstring injury that Mike McCarthy confirmed is a multi-week injury.

Injuries at camp are a given (just look around the NFL) and the Cowboys are lucky that Wilson and Mukuamu didn't suffer anything more serious.

The injury to Wilson in particular -- and other prominent camp storylines -- have done well to distract from Luke Schoonmaker's injury narrative.

Later in the same presser on Thursday, McCarthy noted that there's no return timeline for Schoonmaker, who's been hampered by a foot injury. The head coach is "hopeful" Schoonmaker will make it out on the field in Oxnard, but this update did anything but inspire hope.

Luke Schoonmaker injury update: Cowboys rookie sidelined at training camp with a foot injury

"Definitely making progress."

Perhaps the injury is more serious than what was led on during the offseason program? Schoonmaker missed nearly all of OTAs and minicamp with the same foot injury. He was spotted during minicamp wearing a walking boot.

The No. 58 overall pick in the 2023 draft out of Michigan, Schoonmaker opened camp on the non-football injury list. He can be activated at any time, but the fact he still isn't healthy is concerning and fans officially need to temper expectations for his rookie season.

It's rare for a rookie tight end to hit the ground running in the NFL. Typically, year two is when they begin showing consistency. That includes rookies who are a full participant at OTAs, minicamp and training camp, though.

How much can Schoonmaker realistically be expected to produce when he's missed nearly the entirety of the offseason program?

It's a shame, because Schoonmaker was expected to compete for the starting job. A potential late return to camp might be moot, too, because Jake Ferguson will be getting all the reps he can handle and he already has a year of experience on the former Wolverine.

Ultimately, it's been a while since Schoonmaker's been healthy. In December, he suffered a sprained AC joint in his shoulder and re-injured it in his first game back later that month, which just so happened to be the CFP Semifinals.

Maybe Schoonmaker defies the odds and finds a way to contribute early and often once the regular season starts. But there's no arguing that the odds are stacked against him ... and the reporters, analysts and fans who second-guessed the pick at the time are only going to get louder.

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