The Dallas Cowboys are entering Week 2 of the playoffs with quite a few players on the injury report. How will this affect the match against the Rams?
Football is a rough sport. No “if”s, “and”s, or “but”s about it. 60 on-field minutes of sprinting, pummeling, bruising, and pushing around in heavy pads will wear anyone down over the 16-game long season, not to mention preseason and postseason. From 2014-2017, the NFL averaged 6.2 injuries per game, per PlaySmartPlaySafe.com. With rarely more than 35-40 players total playing in an average game, this injury rate is extremely high. Even with rule after rule being implemented in order to make the game safer, injuries will never disappear. That said, let’s walk through some of the important-to-note injuries recently suffered by the Dallas Cowboys and L.A. Rams, and the effect these injuries may have on Saturday’s game.
All participation statuses are as of Thursday, January 10, and can be viewed at DallasCowboys.com
Wide receiver Allen Hurns: Before I start, I want to break from the factual aspect and give my deepest condolences and best wishes to Allen Hurns. He played hard and well and sacrificed his body for his team, and no matter what team you root for that is something to respect. After catching a pass in last Saturday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks, while fighting for a first down and extra yardage, Hurns suffered a gruesome fibula dislocation when a defender landed on his leg. After receiving immediate on-field medical attention, Hurns was carted off the field, to the applause from fans and players on both sides, and was taken straight to a successful surgery. Hurns is optimistic about his recovery and hopes to back in uniform by next season. Status: Out indefinitely
Wide receiver Tavon Austin: Austin has been plagued with injury all year, most recently suffering from a groin injury. Austin is an important piece in the Cowboys’ offensive scheme, and with Allen Hurns out indefinitely, the Cowboys need Austin to be healthy this Saturday. Status: Probable (FP, up from LP Wednesday)
Wide receiver Cole Beasley: Even with rising Cowboys star wide receiver Amari Cooper in the mix, Beasley is an essential player for the Cowboys. Many times being quarterback Dak Prescott‘s go-to receiver, Cole Beasley’s ability to get separation and make amazing catches has been invaluable but was obviously hindered greatly in last weeks matchup against the Seahawks by an ankle sprain. His performance this week against the Rams could well make the difference. Status: Questionable (DNP)
Defensive tackle Maliek Collins: Third-year defensive tackle Maliek Collins has shown great improvement season to season and continues to be a major disrupter to opposing offenses. Suffering from illness and an ankle injury, Collins needs to be at the top of his game to challenge Ram’s star quarterback Jared “Mr. Perfect” Goff, as well as helping stop All-Pro Ram’s running back Todd Gurley. Status: Questionable (LP)
Defensive end Tyrone Crawford: In an ever-improving Cowboys defensive line, Tyrone Crawford has proven to be a valuable edge rusher and run defender. Opposite team leader, defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, Crawford will have his hands full against Todd Gurley, especially with Crawford dealing with a painful neck injury. Status: Probable (FP, up from LP Wednesday)
Safety Jeff Heath: Coming into this weekend against the explosively powerful Rams’ offense, strong safety Jeff Heath will have to be as fast and strong as he has ever been, alongside free safety Xavier Woods, in order to limit the damage Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff can do in the secondary. Status: Probable (Wrist, FP)
Tight end Blake Jarwin: Having only started four games for the Cowboys so far, Jarwin may not seem to be a huge factor. However, with Geoff Swaim still on IR, if Jarwin can overcome his ankle injury, he may prove to be more vital than most think. Especially after seeing that he can be a true contender in his eight reception, 119 yard, and three touchdown game in week 17 against the Giants. Status: Questionable (DNP)
Linebacker Sean Lee: Even though Sean Lee’s importance has drastically decreased with the emergence of Cowboys’ linebacker power-duo Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith, Lee is still an important facet in the Cowboys’ secondary. It should be noted as well that a three-linebacker set may be a good call to stifle Jared Goff’s favorited over-the-middle passing if the Cowboys get up early on the Rams, forcing the Rams to throw more. Status: Probable (FP)
Right guard Zack Martin: Arguably the most valuable player on the Cowboys lineup going into the Divisional round, five-time Pro-Bowler Zack Martin is the Cowboys’ best chance of stopping the Rams’ impossibly destructive defensive line, led by star Rams’ defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Fighting a knee injury for the better part of December, Martin was rested in Week 17 and came out swinging in Wild Card Weekend against the Seattle Seahawks. Martin is expected to be just as potent this coming week, and he will absolutely need to be. Status: Probable (FP, up from LP Wednesday)
Quarterback Dak Prescott: Prescott was placed on the injury report list for a knee injury obtained from a hit taken to the leg on Saturday, but multiple more recent reports say it was simply precautionary, and the Cowboys’ young starting quarterback is ready to line up under center this week. Status: Probable (FP)
Left tackle Tyron Smith: Cowboys’ tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins will have their work cut out for them this week. L.A. Rams’ defensive tackles Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh will be attacking the line with speed and power Smith and Collins have yet to see. Hopefully, Smith’s neck injury is healed up completely and won’t slow him down any. Status: Probable (FP, up from LP Tuesday)
Left guard Xavier Su’a-Filo: Not initially meant to be a starter, Su’a-Filo has had his share of rough moments throughout the season, but has improved significantly and is now considered to be an important piece in this Cowboys’ offensive line. Once again, Xavier Su’a-Filo will have to be solid on his injured ankle to compete with the Rams’ stout defensive front. Status: Questionable (LP)
Cornerback Blake Countess: Even with one of the most solid defensively lines in the league, Countess’s gameplay in the secondary has been exemplary, and will be a major factor to overcome for Cowboys’ receivers, so long as Countess, who left Week 17’s game with a concussion, is healthy. Status: Questionable (FP, up from LP Wednesday)
Runningback Todd Gurley II: As talented as Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff is, Gurley is undoubtedly this team’s star. At 1251 rushing yards on the season, Gurley ranked third in the league for rushing, behind Giants’ rookie running back Saquon Barkley, and the NFL leader, Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott. Stopping Todd Gurley will likely be the Cowboys’ number one goal, as well as their greatest challenge, in this week’s Divisional clash. Even more so should Gurley’s inflamed knee be fully healed as it is expected to be after nearly three weeks of rest. Status: Probable (FP, up from LP Wednesday)
Safety Lamarcus Joyner: Joyner may not be having the standout year as he had in 2017, but he is still a top-tier athlete. Setting up behind Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, who are likely to get heavy pressure on Cowboys’ QB Dak Prescott, forcing plenty of quick throws, a well-rested Joyner will have many opportunities to turn the tides or hold the lead for the Rams. Status: Probable (FP)
Defensive tackle Ethan Westbrooks: Even though Westbrooks is the backup for starter Aaron Donald, this fifth year Rams veteran is a focal piece for the Rams’ defense. His participation would carry with it many positives for the Rams, not the least being the morale of the team. Westbrooks overcoming his injured thigh would make it that much harder for the Cowboys to snatch up a victory against the Rams. Status: Questionable (DNP, down from LP Wednesday)
Any way you look at it, injuries affect games. Some injuries affect games more than others, but every one of them carries a weight. Sometimes, an injured starter can ruin a team. Other times, it brings out the best in backups no one knew about. Whatever the case, it is vital for any true football fan to be up-to-date on injuries, as they can easily swing a game in the favor of a certain team. How everything will play out in Saturday night’s clash between the Rams and the Cowboys is anybody’s guess, but keep an eye on the players listed above, as their statuses will all have an impact.
Want to read about how non-starters for the Cowboys revitalized the team? Take a look at this other article for Dallas Football News.
- DNP–Did Not Participate in Practice
- LP–Limited Participation in Practice
- FP–Full Participation in Practice
- Out–Player Will Not Play
- Doubtful–Player is Unlikely to Play
- Questionable–Player is Not Certain to Play
- Probable–Player is Likely to Play