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NFC East: Cowboys Dodging Division's Early Injury Issues

Posted Sep 16, 2014


The injury hits keep coming in the NFC East after a particularly gruesome Week 2.

Like I said last week, you can credit the Cowboys for kicking all this off when they lost Sean Lee and DeMarcus Lawrence before the season even began. But everything since then? It’s been everyone else in the division feeling the sting of the injury bug.

We talked about Philly’s Evan Mathis being lost until Week 9 with an MCL sprain. That was apparently just the beginning, as New York and Washington both lost players for substantial stretches of time on Sunday.

The biggest name is easily Robert Griffin III, who suffered a nasty-looking ankle injury early in Washington’s win against Jacksonville. Griffin needed an air cast and was carted off the field in the first quarter, which led many to expect the worst.

The early reports out of Washington are that he did not fracture his ankle, however. The Redskins don’t have a report on his recovery timeline, but it’s possible Griffin won’t need surgery. The Washington Post has reported that four-to-eight weeks is a best-case scenario for recovery.

Kirk Cousins looked fantastic filling in once Griffin left, and it looks likely that he’ll have another chance to audition for the starting role. Cousins started the final month of Washington’s dismal 2013 campaign, and he wasn’t exactly inspiring. It’s going to be interesting to see how he fares if he’s playing in place of Griffin for a significant stretch of time – and what the team does once Griffin can play again.

While the prognosis on Griffin is still unknown, we do know that the Giants will be without nickelback Walter Thurmond for the rest of 2014. Thurmond suffered a torn pectoral and will require season-ending surgery. The Giants still have their starting duo of Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie intact, not to mention Antrel Rolle at safety. But losing Thurmond is a blow to their depth – not to mention their nickel formation.

Speaking of cornerbacks, if you’ve followed Morris Claiborne to this point in the season, you should be aware of the injury DeSean Jackson is dealing with right now – an AC sprain. As if losing Griffin early in the game wasn’t enough, Jackson left the Jaguars contest early after he came down hard on his shoulder.

The Redskins aren’t ruling Jackson out of this weekend’s division opener against Philadelphia, but we’re likely not going to know how likely he is to play until Thursday or Friday. From covering Claiborne’s own AC sprains, I can say that one week seems ambitious.

Claiborne sprained his shoulder during training camp practices against the Raiders, in mid-August. It might have been mostly precautionary, but he didn’t play in any of the Cowboys’ preseason games after that. He made his 2014 debut in the season opener against San Francisco. Regular season games are obviously more important than preseason exhibitions, so Jackson could fight through the pain, but I won’t be surprised if he sits a week and returns in Week 4 against the Giants.

It’s still early in the season, but to this point these types of breaks seem to be going the Cowboys’ way. You obviously have to factor Lee’s injury into any of these conversations – his loss can’t be understated, even if it didn’t technically happen during the season.

Yes, Justin Durant is still missing, and he likely won’t be back until Week 4 against the Saints or Week 5 against the Texans. Aside from that, however, the Cowboys have made it through two games without any real injury concerns. On top of that, it’s looking increasingly likely that Orlando Scandrick will return from his suspension much earlier than expected.

All of this can change in just one play, obviously. But after two seasons of injury woes, the Cowboys aren’t the ones catching the bad luck so far in 2014. If they can maintain that, it could go a long way toward their hopes of competing for a playoff spot. 

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