Dallas Cowboys

Play the starters? Injuries are part of that Cowboys equation

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown was injured against Detroit Monday night.
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown was injured against Detroit Monday night. rrodriguez@star-telegram.com

ARLINGTON In the second quarter, it was defensive end Ryan Davis and defensive tackle Terrell McClain who left Monday night’s game against the Lions with a knee injury and an ankle injury, respectively. At first update, they were listed as questionable to return, but in the third quarter they were both confirmed out of the game, leaving a defensive line rotation of five players in tact for almost three quarters of the game.

Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and defensive tackles Cedric Thornton and Tyrone Crawford were inactive for the game.

With Morris Claiborne out in the secondary, rookie Anthony Brown was getting plenty of run until he was taken off the field after a blow to the head late in the first quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter, Pro-Bowl offensive tackle Tyron Smith went out with a right knee injury. On first update from the Cowboys, he was listed as questionable, but he never put his helmet back on after coming off the field after a Darren McFadden 18-yard run. Neither Brown, Davis or McClain returned for the Cowboys.

So much was made this week about whether the Cowboys would play their starters, and for how long, after the Philadelphia Eagles’ win over the New York Giants on Thursday handed the NFC East Championship and home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs to the Cowboys.

A three-week layoff could dull Dallas’ edge, was the prevailing notion. Well, dings and cuts and bruises like the ones the Cowboys sustained against the Lions are the other side of that coin.

Holding the players out who sustained injury against the Lions may well be varying degrees of precautionary. But keeping thee starters in to keep them in rhythm is a little bit of a precarious high-wire act for the Cowboys’ coaching staff, and the conversation surrounding playing time will be a loud one in the week to come before a truly meaningless regular-season finale against the Eagles.

Oh, and for the record, there were a few “We want Tony” ringing throughout AT&T Stadium late in the fourth quarter.

Matthew Martinez; 817-390-7760; @MCTinez817