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Cowboys Missing Key Defensive Stars For Raiders

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By Shawn Lealos

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 02: Cornerback Morris Claiborne #24 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates while crossing the goal line to score on a fumble recovery as quarterback Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on at Cowboys Stadium on December 2, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

(Credit, Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The Dallas Cowboys head into their annual Thanksgiving Day game with some key injuries on the defensive side of the ball. Luckily for the Cowboys, the opponents – the Oakland Raiders – also have key injuries on the offensive side of the ball.

Despite returning last weekend against the New York Giants, Cowboy Morris Claiborne re-aggravated his hamstring injury and will miss the Thanksgiving Day game. This has been a completely wasted year for a player that Dallas was counting on to shore up its defensive secondary this season.

As a matter of fact, many of the Cowboys injuries this week are hamstring injuries, bringing up more questions about the strength and conditioning program for the Cowboys. Two of the team’s three starting linebackers – Sean Lee and Justin Durant – will also miss the game with hamstring injuries. Also out this week with a hamstring injury is wide receiver and special teams star Dwayne Harris.

Expect Cole Beasley to take over on the special teams in place of Harris.

On the defensive side of the ball, the linebackers will once again be completely depleted as DeVonte Holloman will miss his second consecutive week with a neck injury. Bruce Carter, Kyle Bosworth and Ernie Sims will likely start for the team this week.

The rest of the injured defensive players that returned last week will continue to try to work their way back into playing form as DeMarcus Ware, J.J. Wilcox, George Selvie and Nick Hayden are all probable.

Miles Austin, who has been suffering from hamstring problems for about three years now, returned last weekend and caught his first pass since early in the season. Austin will hope to get more involved in the offense this week. Dez Bryant will also play, despite his continued back problems.

The Oakland Raiders are missing two of their key offensive players, with No. 1 wide receiver Denarius Moore out and Darren McFadden questionable with a hamstring injury of his own. McFadden is expected to play, but will only be able to backup Rashad Jennings in a limited role. Without two of his best weapons, new quarterback Matt McGloin will try to exploit the Cowboys injured defense with role players as his top targets.

The defense of the Raiders also has some injuries of their own with safety Tyvon Branch and former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Kevin Burnett both out. Also questionable this week is another former Cowboys player in cornerback Mike Jenkins, who suffered a concussion.

Injury Report

Dallas Cowboys

  • Austin, Miles (WR) Hamstring
  • Bryant, Dez (WR) Back
  • Claiborne, Morris (CB) Hamstring
  • Durant, Justin (LB) Hamstring
  • Escobar, Gavin (TE) Hamstring
  • Harris, Dwayne (WR) Hamstring
  • Hatcher, Jason (DT) Neck
  • Hayden, Nick (DT) Ribs
  • Holloman, DeVonte (LB) Neck
  • Lee, Sean (LB) Hamstring
  • Selvie, George (DE) Shoulder
  • Ware, DeMarcus (DE) Thigh
  • Wilcox, J.J. (S) Knee

Oakland Raiders

  • Tyvon Branch (S) Ankle
  • Kevin Burnett (LB) Quad
  • Jason Hunter (DE) Foot
  • Mike Jenkins (CB) Concussion
  • Kaluka Maiava (LB) Ribs
  • Darren McFadden (RB) Hamstring
  • Denarius Moore (WR) Shoulder
  • Sio Moore (LB) Shoulder
  • Daniel Muir (DT) Knee
  • Mychal Rivera (TE) Concussion
  • Menelik Watson (T) Illness

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.