Defensive Injuries Coming at Wrong Time


The hits from Sunday night just keep on coming.

Both of the Cowboys defenders lost to injury on Sunday night got bad news about their conditions on Monday. Mike Jenkins thinks he'll be out three-to-four weeks after injuring his hamstring in the loss to the Eagles and Sean Lee has a dislocated wrist, which will force him to play with a cast if he's able to play at all.

That would be a double dose of bad news at any point in the season, but it is hard to imagine a worse time for the Cowboys to lose two key defensive contributors. Not only is the defense trying to recover from the whipping they took on Sunday night, but the Cowboys are about to enter a stretch of schedule they need to dominate to keep their playoff hopes alive for the long term.

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Starting with this week's game against the Seahawks, the Cowboys have a five-week run of mostly favorable matchups. They have a game against the 5-2 Bills, but it is at home, and the rest of the run features the Redskins, Dolphins and Cardinals. Those aren't winnable games, they are games that teams with designs on anything other than a top 10 draft pick have to win and have to win easily.

Injuries are going to make that more difficult. Losing Lee would mean more playing time for Keith Brooking and Bradie James, neither of whom have distinguished themselves as much more than roster filler to this point of the season. Lee's been one of the biggest playmakers on the unit and the Cowboys will need that kind of playmaking to help them run through the upcoming schedule like a knife through hot butter.

Jenkins' injury is covered up a bit more easily thanks to Orlando Scandrick, but it does force lesser players into the secondary mix when the Cowboys play packages stocked with defensive backs. Quarterbacks, even the mediocre ones the Cowboys will be seeing in the next few weeks, know how to pick out weak links and exploit them to the tune of yards and points.

Everything about this season felt lost while watching LeSean McCoy and Mike Vick shred the Cowboys on Sunday night. The reality is that there's still a mighty good chance of the Cowboys entering the final quarter of the season with a winning record and a legitimate chance of making the playoffs. That chance goes away with more than one loss in the next five games, though, and the injuries on defense are going to make things harder than they need to be.

November's going to make or break this Cowboys season and it isn't off to a very good start.

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