Even at full strength, the Dallas Cowboys were already seen as the underdogs going into Sunday’s big game against the New England Patriots. Now that we have the final Week 12 injury reports, it appears Dallas’ disadvantage may be even greater.
While Tom Brady is showing up as “questionable” in the Patriots’ report he is certainly expected to play. But Dallas has one of its stud linebackers confirmed missing; adding to the ongoing woes on defense.
- LB Leighton Vander Esch (neck) – OUT
- G Connor Williams (knee) – Questionable
- LB Joe Thomas (illness) – Questionable
- S Donovan Wilson (illness) – Questionable
Losing Vander Esch for this one really hurts. While his sophomore season hasn’t been as dazzling as his rookie year, Leighton is still critical to helping the Cowboys defense shut down the middle of the field and chasing running backs who go out into screens and other pass patterns. That is critical to stopping the Patriots offense; there may not be a team which will make us miss Vander Esch more.
Thankfully, backup Joe Thomas’ presence on this report should be resolved by Sunday. He and Donovan Wilson have been hit with a flu bug that has gone around the locker room this week, but both are expected to play Sunday. Thomas should split a heavy workload with Sean Lee as they cover for Vander Esch.
On offense, Connor Williams is expected to return at left guard after just a one-week absence from a minor knee procedure. While some don’t think there’s a big drop-off between Williams and Xavier Su’a-Filo as players, having your regular starter back is always a plus for the overall chemistry and cohesion of the offensive line.
New England Patriots
- QB Tom Brady (right elbow) – Questionable
- RB Damien Harris (hamstring) – Questionable
- WR Julian Edelman (shoulder) – Questionable
- WR Mohamed Sanu (ankle) – Questionable
- WR Phillip Dorsett (concussion) – Questionable
- WR Matthew Slater (hamstring) – Questionable
- OL Marcus Cannon (illness) – Questionable
- DE John Simon (elbow) – Questionable
- LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (knee) – Questionable
- CB Jason McCourty (groin) – Questionable
- DB Nate Ebner (ankle/back) – Questionable
- S Patrick Chung (heel/chest) – Questionable
Before we dive into this, it’s worth noting that analyzing a New England injury report can be a fool’s errand. They have notoriously over-reported injuries through the years; a Patriots’ “questionable” means very little compared to most other teams.
That said, seeing Tom Brady on here is interesting. It’s also worth noting that it’s his throwing arm, but don’t expect this to take him out of the game. Brady hasn’t missed a start due to injury in over a decade.
The Patriots WR group is hurting right now but we’ll see if anyone actually misses game time. None of the players on this report, at any position, missed practice on Friday. However, with Dorsett coming off a head injury and Sanu missing Wednesday and Thursday practices, there are some lingering issues there which could raise their head on game day.
Several other starters on the report; RT Marcus Cannon, RE John Simon, CB Jason McCourty, and S Patrick Chung. All of them practiced on a limited basis throughout the week, including Chung after missing last week’s game against the Eagles. Expect all to be on the this Sunday.