By Shawn Lealos

When the season started for the Dallas Cowboys, their starting quarterback (Tony Romo), running back (Darren McFadden), and wide receiver (Dez Bryant) all ended up injured. Heading into the Cowboys game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, all three of those players are officially now back from their injuries. However, much like Tony Romo, Darren McFadden has lost his job to a promising rookie. Here is a look at the Dallas Cowboys Week 15 injury report.

Darren McFadden Searching For New Role on Team

McFadden made his return to the active lineup for this week’s game. However, he has lost his starting job to rookie Ezekiel Elliott. With Elliott leading the NFL in rushing for the season, he’s not going back on the bench, but there will be times that the Dallas Cowboys need to rest their star running back and McFadden leaves them another able body to pick up the slack. He also has fresh legs, which is very encouraging heading into the playoffs when it comes to depth.

Lucky Whitehead is also on shaky terms with the Dallas Cowboys. Whitehead, the teams’ kick and punt returner, was deactivated last week and there are rumors that the Cowboys might try McFadden on special teams returns. While he is a bit older, McFadden is very fast and could provide a spark in the return game. Whitehead is only averaging 8.8 yards on punt returns and has only brought back 10 kickoff returns this year.

Defense Continues to Lose Starters

Safety Barry Church made his return to the starting lineup for the Dallas Cowboys two weeks ago. He is listed as questionable this week, but he has practiced all week, so he will take the field. In his two games back, Church has combined for 17 tackles and one pass defense. However, cornerback Morris Claiborne is still not ready to return to the lineup and will miss Sunday with a groin injury. Fellow cornerback Orlando Scandrick has a foot injury and is questionable as well, while Anthony Brown and Leon McFadden will continue to get more work.

However, the defensive line took a hit when defensive end Demarcus Lawrence was declared out this week with a back injury. Lawrence has played every game since serving his four-game suspension to start the season and this is his first absence due to injury this season. Jack Crawford, who has been out with a foot injury, should play more in his spot.

Tampa Bay’s Defensive Leader Limited

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a historically good defense, although this season they have left a bit to be desired. They may struggle a little more this week with defensive tackle Gerald McCoy limited in practice with a foot injury. McCoy leads Tampa Bay with seven sacks on the season and is needed to put pressure on Dak Prescott, who has slipped a bit in the last two weeks thanks to strong defensive pressure. Luckily for Tampa Bay, they should be getting safety Chris Conte back from a two-game absence due to a chest injury.

Dallas Cowboys Injury Report

Questionable:

  • (SS) Barry Church (Forearm) — Full Participation in Practice
  • (DE) Jack Crawford (Foot) — Limited Participation in Practice
  • (LS) L.P LaDouceur (Knee) — Full Participation in Practice
  • (G) Ronald Leary (Back) — Limited Participation in Practice
  • (OLB) Sean Lee (Knee) — Limited Participation in Practice
  • (CB) Orlando Scandrick (Foot) — Full Participation in Practice
  • (T) Tyron Smith (Back/Knee) — Limited Participation in Practice
  • (DT) Cedric Thornton (Ankle) — Did Not Participate in Practice
  • (SS) J.J. Wilcox (Thigh) — Limited Participation in Practice
  • (WR) Dez Bryant (Back) — Limited Participation in Practice

Out:

  • (CB) Morris Claiborne (Groin) — Did Not Participate In Practice
  • (OT) Chaz Green (Back) — Did Not Participate In Practice
  • (DE) Demarcus Lawrence (Back) — Did Not Participate In Practice