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Cowboys Fear Losing the Man in the Middle

The real story of tonights game is the injuries suffered by Dallas players, one in particular The most serious of the injuries without question appears to be the one suffered by Anthony Hitchens. Also coming out with injuries were Chaz Green and Duke Thomas. Let’s review what’s happened and the impact going forward & possible options the team has in dealing with them.

The injury to Hitch is being reported as a likely season ending knee injury pending an MRI. This would be a severe blow to the defense as Hitch was the man in the middle of last years best D versus versus the run. He also handles the communications and calls the defense. He had over 100 tackles and you don’t just replace that production. Hitchens was probably having his best camp in his four years with the team. The Cowboys signed Justin Durant after the Wilson incident, but he’ll probably be the one asked to step into the lead role, all without any game snaps here in the preseason thus far. Many may be thinking that Jaylon would become the starter but I get the feeling they have a plan for his progression and this won’t alter that plan by much. They will look to get Jaylon on the field to give Durant periodic breaks. Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me that Smith becomes the starter around the 8th to 10th game now that this injury has hit. They could also elect to go with Nzeocha with some of those snaps too. Mark looked more active in the Raiders game. The injury also puts the Boys in the market for another linebacker to add to the roster. As the team retools and reshapes the defense, losing the player in the middle is a tough hit in its development. While I don’t think the team wants to return Sean Lee to the middle, it is an option if they prefer Durant or Nzeocha at the Will. It’s probably a long shot as they’ve been able to keep Lee healthy from the Will.

The injury to Green is unknown as to the extent of the injury. Wrote a story on Friday about Green being in a battle for the starting LG position, if the team could in part look beyond his health issues. This injury is just another in a long line of injuries that have limited his play his first two years. Green is considered the 5th best offensive lineman on the roster, but he just can’t get through a week without an injury. Until we know the extent of the injury, that LG position may remain in limbo for another week. This may force the team to carry another OL/G than thought just a week ago. A trade for a LG is not out of the question either and wouldn’t be a complete surprise.

Duke Thomas is a CB, for those who may not be familiar with the name. He’s had a very respectable camp and there’s been scuttlebutt that he’s on the bubble in the quest to make the 53. Given all the rookies down with the hamstring epidemic, Thomas appeared to have a shot at sticking. His injury appeared to be the least serious injury but may well affect the final decision at cutdown at the CB position.

This is the part of the preseason that you hate as it impacts your team before getting to opening day!


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