By Shawn Lealos
The bye week could not have come at a better time for the Dallas Cowboys. While they will not get all their wounded players back for this weekend’s NFC East game with the New York Giants, they will get a number of them back on the field. Hopefully for Dallas, the returning players – especially on the defensive side of the ball – will help stop the bleeding somewhat.
Dallas has given up over 500 yards to four different teams this season while two of them have broke 600 yards against the Cowboys. There is no way any offense can keep up when the defense is that inept. Jerry Jones does not blame defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin for the disastrous play because Dallas has injuries to blame on the losses. While Dallas may not get Sean Lee or Justin Durant back following the bye week, they will get a number of their injured defensive stars back on the field.
Sack specialist DeMarcus Ware said he could have returned before the bye, but there was no reason to rush him back. While he has been limited in practice this week, he will return to the field for the Giants game and will be joined by Jason Hatcher, the Cowboys’ leading sacker in 2013. The two of them back in the lineup should be a shot in the arm and Dallas hopes that they can shake up Eli Manning enough to force the same turnovers they forced on him in Week 1.
George Selvie and Nick Hayden were also full practice participants this week, meaning the defensive line could be completely healthy for the first time in weeks.
Also returning this week are cornerback Morris Claiborne and safety J.J. Wilcox, both of whom were injured in October. With them back on the field, Dallas will hope to limit the big plays that they have surrendered throughout the season. Claiborne has been limited in practice this week while Wilcox is back full time.
The defensive line and defensive backfield will have to be strong though, because Sean Lee and Justin Durant are both out in the linebacker corps this week and DeVonte Holloman also missed practice on Thursday and is questionable.
The only injuries on the offensive side of the ball are receivers Miles Austin (hamstring) and Dez Bryant (back), but both were full participants in practice and Austin might be the healthiest he has been since the start of the season. He finished the first game of the season with 10 receptions against the Giants.
The Giants are actually coming into the Dallas game relatively healthy, which is probably why they turned their six-game losing streak into a four-game winning streak.
Hakeem Nicks was one of the injured Giants that looked iffy this week, but he returned to limited practice on Thursday. As a matter of fact, all of the Giants’ injured players practiced in a limited fashion on Thursday. Jason Pierre-Paul has a shoulder injury, but he had the same problem last week and played, and with his comments about spilling blood this weekend, you can bet he will be on the field for the Giants. Cornerback Corey Webster has missed almost the entire season and he actually practiced this week, but he is the player most likely to sit out the game.
- Austin, Miles WR
- Bryant, Dez WR
- Claiborne, Morris CB
- Durant, Justin LB
- Hatcher, Jason DT
- Hayden, Nick DT
- Holloman, DeVonte LB
- Lee, Sean LB
- Selvie, George DE
- Ware, DeMarcus DE
- Wilcox, J.J. S
New York Giants
- John Conner FB
- Brandon Jacobs RB
- Trumaine McBride CB
- Hakeem Nicks WR
- Jason Pierre-Paul DE
- Terrell Thomas CB
- Corey Webster CB
For more Cowboys news and updates, visit Cowboys Central.
Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.