Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli didn’t have an easy answer.
The Dallas Cowboys are in a precarious situation because of a rash of injuries, particularly to their young defensive backs. Second- and third-round picks Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie have been sidelined an extended period with hamstring injuries.
Lewis has yet to play in the preseason, and Awuzie played in only the Hall of Fame game earlier this month. Sixth-round safety Xavier Woods has also been slowed by a hamstring injury. Reserve cornerback Leon McFadden has also been slowed of late with a hamstring.
How can the team trust young players who haven’t practiced?
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“That’s a great question,” Marinelli said. “We’ve got to get them on the field. That’s our dilemma right now. They are in our walk-throughs, but you have to play, get your pads on and make a tackle. It is a dilemma. It’s something we have to work through. We realize it. It’s a challenge right now.”
Marinelli said it’ll be difficult to gauge their abilities, particularly without many game reps.
“In college or you’re in walk-through, you don’t see that speed on turf,” Marinelli said. “A guy cuts and you’ve got to tackle. The speed of covering a guy, run fits, it’s just — that’s why you put pads on in practice for a month and a half.”
Coach Jason Garrett tried to look at the positives regarding the DBs who are sidelined. When they have been healthy, Garrett said, they have shown an ability to play well at this level.
“They’ve all done really good things when they’ve been out there,” Garrett said. “So there’s a lot to like about what they’ve done and put on tape up to this point. Having said that, they’re not that experienced. They haven’t played that much. They need to play more football.”
The defensive back depth isn’t the only issue for the Cowboys right now.
The D-line has several players nursing injuries, including Benson Mayowa (knee), Tyrone Crawford (ankle) and Charles Tapper (neck).
As Garrett said, “Unfortunately injuries are part of the game.”
Other players dealing with injuries include linebacker John Lotulelei, wide receiver Corey Washington (leg), fullback Keith Smith (knee), offensive lineman Clay DeBord (concussion) and tight end Rico Gathers (concussion).
Tight end Jason Witten, receivers Cole Beasley and Dez Bryant, running back Darren McFadden, left tackle Tyron Smith, long snapper L.P. Ladouceur, cornerback Orlando Scandrick and linebacker Jaylon Smith all had scheduled days off Wednesday.