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Dallas Cowboys Hoping Banged Up Defense Can Get Back On Track

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By Shawn Lealos

It really looked like the Dallas Cowboys defense was healing up, and outside of Morris Claiborne and Bruce Allen, all the stars played against the Chicago Bears. They were also manhandled by a backup quarterback and laid to waste. With that in mind, the Cowboys head into this weekend’s game with the Green Bay Packers in about the same situation as last week, although Sean Lee is far from 100 percent.

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 09: Running back Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears is tackled by middle linebacker Sean Lee #50 of the Dallas Cowboys during a game at Soldier Field on December 9, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

(Credit, Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Sean Lee is the best player on this entire defense, leading the team in tackles, and he is a proven game changer when he is on the field. However, he is also playing injured and suffered another stinger against the Bears on Monday night. Lee said that he should be back to play in this game, and while he will have to play smart, he said that he can handle the pain and still make his hits.

Also back is DeMarcus Ware, who has suffered from a couple of stingers this year as well. While he never sacked the Bears quarterback last week, Ware’s return to health should make a difference. With both Ware and Jason Hatcher finally healthy together, it is time for them to play more like they did in the first quarter of 2013 rather than the way the team has played in the nine games since.

Dallas will still be without cornerback Morris Claiborne and linebacker Bruce Carter. Both men have been injured most of the season, so their losses will mean the team will play pretty much with the same reserves as they have most of the year. Dwayne Harris also missed practice this week, but he played against Chicago and looked really good, so the Cowboys are probably just resting their special teams’ star in practice.

Linebackers DeVonte Holloman and Justin Durant were both full practice participants this week.

While the team is leaving the door open for his return, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will likely miss another game this week against Dallas. His collarbone injury has made his entire season questionable, but as long as the Packers remain in striking distance of the NFC North crown, the team will keep trying to work him back. Rodgers was limited in practice this week, which is a good sign for the future, at least.

Starting running back Eddie Lacy has also missed practice this week with a right ankle injury. His status for the Packers game against Dallas is also in danger, although he played with the sprained ankle last week when he carried the ball 20 times for 65 yards and a touchdown. He was in a walking boot on Thursday, but the Packers hope to have him back in practice on Friday.

The Packers had four more players who did not practice on Thursday, including linebackers Brad Jones and Jamari Lattimore, offensive lineman Mike Neal and defensive end C.J. Wilson.

Injury Report

Dallas Cowboys

  • Bruce Carter (LB) – Hamstring
  • Morris Claiborne (CB) – Hamstring
  • Justin Durant (LB) – Hamstring
  • Dwayne Harris (WR) – Hamstring
  • Jason Hatcher (DT) – Neck
  • DeVonte Holloman (LB) – Neck
  • Sean Lee (LB) – Neck

Green Bay Packers

  • Evan Dietrich-Smith (C/G) – Knee/Ankle
  • Brad Jones (LB) – Ankle
  • Eddie Lacy (RB) – Ankle
  • Jamari Lattimore (LB) – Knee
  • Mike Neal (DE/LB) – Abdomen
  • Nick Perry (LB) – Foot
  • Aaron Rodgers (QB) – Collarbone
  • C.J. Wilson (DE) – Ankle

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.