Dallas Cowboys patching plenty of injury holes on defense

IRVING -- Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan spent Friday afternoon detailing a long list of reserves he is counting on to make his injury-depleted defense function Sunday against Philadelphia.

Near the top of the list: rookie linebacker Kyle Wilber, who has played primarily on special teams but is penciled in for extended duty Sunday while alternating between inside and outside linebacker.

Ryan said he expects Wilber, who has made only two tackles on defense this season, to play "anywhere from 12 to 50" snaps against the Eagles, depending on personnel groups.

"The kid's got to come through for us," Ryan said. "He's going to play quite a bit so... he'll be tested a lot. It's baptism under fire."

Wilber, a fourth-round pick from Wake Forest, is far from alone on a defensive depth chart that features four starters on injured reserve (LB Sean Lee, LB Bruce Carter, DE Kenyon Coleman, S Barry Church) and a fifth, nose tackle Jay Ratliff (groin), who is not expected to play Sunday. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick (hand surgery), a key reserve, has been ruled out, meaning Dallas will be without six of its top defenders, with other contributors ailing.

Coach Jason Garrett expressed plans to "mix and match" defensive personnel groups, with multiple players lining up in non-traditional roles. He cited the possibility of cornerback Brandon Carr reprising his role at safety from the Tampa Bay game. Ryan said linebacker Alex Albright could play in the defensive line. Other multi-position options include defensive backs Eric Frampton and Danny McCray.

"Guys have to be a little flexible and they've got to be a little versatile," Garrett said. "We have guys who can handle a couple of different spots."

Wilber said he is "definitely ready" for the extended duty Ryan envisions after spending this week huddling with Lee and Carter to gain insights about playing inside linebacker. Ryan said the biggest key Sunday will be keeping his calls simple.

"You're not near as multiple as maybe you could have been, especially this week," Ryan said. "You've got to make sure you're in something that you feel good about all your players playing, getting the right calls and being able to function on defense.

"It gets a little upsetting [with all the injuries]. All of these guys have roles. But that's the way it is. We're not making excuses. We want to win football games."

Murray update

The signs are building that DeMarco Murray is going to play Sunday after missing the team's past six games with a foot injury.

First, owner Jerry Jones said on his radio show Friday, "It looks like that." Second, Murray spent part of Friday in a production meeting with NBC's Sunday Night Football crew. It would be unusual for the crew to spend time with a player who was not going to play.

Jones said he was encouraged by the way Murray practiced.

"The key day was Thursday," he said. "He came back from the day before. Usually, there's a leveling off or setback day where you feel the effects. He didn't have that."

Officially, the Cowboys list Murray as questionable for the game.

Injury report

In addition to DeMarco Murray, other Cowboys listed as questionable on Friday's 15-player injury report include wide receiver Miles Austin (hip), center/guard Ryan Cook (knee), running back Felix Jones (knee) and left tackle Tyron Smith (ankle).

Ruled out for Sunday's game are defensive tackle Ben Bass (ankle), center Phil Costa (ankle) and Orlando Scandrick (hand surgery).

Listed as doubtful are nose tackle Jay Ratliff (groin) and safety Charlie Peprah (foot).

Listed as probable are defensive tackle Jason Hatcher (concussion), defensive tackle Sean Lissemore (ankle), safety Danny McCray (hip), receiver Kevin Ogletree (concussion) and fullback Lawrence Vickers (knee).

Armed Forces Rally

Cowboys Stadium will host an Armed Forces Rally Day from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. today, with military-themed activities, autograph sessions with three former players (Mel Renfro, Leon Lett, Ed "Too Tall" Jones), photo opportunities with the team's Super Bowl trophies and appearances by the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and Santa Claus.

Scheduled times for the autograph sessions include Renfro (11 a.m.), Lett (noon) and Ed Jones (1 p.m.)

VIP rally day tickets are $27.50 for adults and $22.50 for children/seniors; self-guided rally day tickets are $17.50 for adults and $14.50 for children/seniors; military rally day tickets are $22.50 for VIP and $14.50 for self-guided.

Group tickets can be purchased by calling 817-892-TOUR.

Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @Jimmy_Burch

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