By Shawn Lealos
Every week of the 2013 NFL season, the Dallas Cowboys came into their games with a lot of notable players out of action. Names like DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Sean Lee, DeMarcus Ware and Morris Claiborne highlighted one of the most injury plagued seasons in Cowboys history. It all leads to the final game of 2013, with the playoffs on the line, where Dallas has likely lost its most important player for the most important game of the season.
Tony Romo is doubtful to play in a game that Dallas has to win in order to make the playoffs. If the Cowboys lose, they go home.
Kyle Orton has been taking all the first team reps this week in practice as Romo has not made it to even a single meeting since suffering what is reported as a herniated disk in his back. Some reports indicate that he is finished this season and will require sugary before he can return. However, Romo received an epidural on Monday and still wants to try to tough it out and play in this must-win game for Dallas.
The Cowboys brought back former backup quarterback Jon Kitna to serve as Orton’s backup in case Romo is out for the season. From the look of it, barring a miracle, Kyle Orton will take the field to try to lead Dallas into the playoffs with Kitna serving as his insurance on the sidelines.
Sean Lee has also not practiced yet this week, and honestly, Dallas needs him back as much as they need Romo on the offensive side of the ball. Over the last half of the season, the Philadelphia Eagles have been one of the best teams in the NFL offensively, and without Lee, Dallas will have a lot of trouble stopping LeSean McCoy from opening up the passing game, something Dallas successfully achieved when they played the Eagles last. Right now it looks like Lee will not play because of his neck injury. Ernie Sims will probably miss the game as well.
Dez Bryant also missed practice on Thursday after hurting his back in practice on Christmas Day. Bryant, however, said that there is nothing that will keep him off the field on Sunday.
On the positive side, Morris Claiborne should return to the secondary for the first time in many weeks for this finale and Dallas will also get kick and punt returner Dwayne Harris back this week, which is very important for the team. Jason Hatcher, George Selvie and DeMarcus Ware were all back at practice in full, so the Cowboys defensive line should be intact this week as well.
On the Eagles side of the ball, there is little in the way of injuries.
There were only three Philadelphia players who did not practice on Thursday. Those players were backup center Julian Vandervelde, starting left guard Evan Mathis and safety Colt Anderson. Mathis’ injury was minor and he should be ready to play, meaning the Eagles’ starting lineup comes into this must win game almost completely healthy.
- Bryant, Dez (WR) – Back
- Claiborne, Morris (CB) – Hamstring
- Harris, Dwayne (WR) – Hamstring
- Hatcher, Jason (DT) – Neck
- Holloman, DeVonte (LB) – Hip
- Lee, Sean (LB) – Neck
- Romo, Tony (QB) – Back
- Selvie, George (DE) – Back
- Sims, Ernie (LB) – Groin
- Ware, DeMarcus (DE) – Back
- Wynn, Jarius (DE) – Chest
- Colt Anderson (S) – Knee
- Brandon Boykin (CB) – Hip
- Trent Cole (LB) – Hand
- Kurt Coleman (S) – Hamstring
- Lane Johnson (T) – Back
- Mychal Kendricks (LB) – Knee
- Evan Mathis (G) – Illness
- Julian Vandervelde (G) – Back
- Earl Wolff (S) – Knee
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.