Doug Free hopes to play Sunday, but it’s more likely that the Cowboys’ starting right tackle will miss three to four weeks with a sprained foot, according to a source.
As usual with injuries, coach Jason Garrett didn’t divulge too many details into Free’s status during his Monday news conference.
“I think he’s OK,” Garrett said. “He’s dealing with that injury and we’ll see what it is here over the next few days.”
Free sprained his right mid-foot with 3:23 left in Sunday’s victory over the Seahawks on a 6-yard run by DeMarco Murray. Jeremy Parnell replaced Free and helped pave the way for Murray’s 15-yard touchdown run on the next play.
Parnell played five snaps with Free returning for the victory formation kneel down to end the game.
“Jeremy did a really nice job,” Garrett said. “He didn’t play many plays in the game, but he played some important ones.
“I thought he responded well emotionally to that situation and mentally to that situation, and those were big plays that he played.”
Free has started 77 consecutive games, but that streak is in jeopardy. The Cowboys have four games remaining before their bye week, including a Nov. 9 game against Jacksonville in London.
Outside of Parnell, the Cowboys only other backup tackle on the 53-man roster is Donald Hawkins. Rookie guard Zack Martin has experience at tackle, as well, as he played left tackle in college.
Lawrence, Brent updates
The Cowboys defense has exceeded expectations so far and should only improve with more help on its way.
The defensive line should get a boost with the impending returns of rookie defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and suspended defensive tackle Josh Brent.
Lawrence fractured a bone in his right foot during training camp and was placed on injured reserve. He can begin practicing this week and return to game action Nov. 2 against the Cardinals.
The Cowboys are hoping Lawrence gives them more of a pass rush presence, which is why they traded up to draft him with the 34th overall pick.
“He was certainly doing some good things before he got hurt,” Garrett said. “We’re optimistic about his future and his ability to contribute this year. But his job is to get himself healthy, get himself going again, get his feet underneath him and try to improve as a football player.”
Brent, meanwhile, is still serving his suspension to get reinstated into the league after his December 2012 drunken driving accident that took the life of teammate and friend Jerry Brown.
Brent has been able to work out and attend team meetings the past two weeks and will continue to do that. He’s eligible to begin practicing in Week 9 and could return to the field as early as Nov. 23 at the Giants.
“He looks good,” Garrett said. “Losing some weight, making progress.”
Ground and pound
The Seahawks had the best run defense in the league, but the Cowboys weren’t afraid of going after it. They have the top running back in the game right now in DeMarco Murray and handed it off to him 29 times for 115 yards.
Backups Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar also made nice plays out of the backfield, as the Cowboys combined for 162 rushing yards, the most the Seahawks have allowed since Week 14 last season.
“I thought our guys up front did a good job just continuing to fight and be physical,” Garrett said. “Tight ends, receivers and then certainly DeMarco running the football. It was not going to be easy. We were going to have to wear them out as the game wore on, and he’s a big part of that.”
Murray had 52 rushing yards in the fourth quarter, including three consecutive runs in which he gained 46 yards, the last being a 15-yard TD run to give Dallas a 27-23 lead.
Murray’s 159 carries for 785 yards keeps him on pace for a 2,000-yard season, and also on track for an NFL-record with 424 carries.