The Cowboys are marching closer to clinching a playoff spot, division title, and perhaps greater rewards. The Vikings are looking to stay afloat in the NFC North and playoff picture over all. As these two teams face off tonight, here's a quick look at the injury situations for both teams.
The following is based on the teams' final Wednesday practices:
DNP – Did Not Practice
LP – Limited Participant
OUT – Already Ruled Out
- OT Tyron Smith (back/hip) – LP
- OT Chaz Green (back) – OUT
- DE DeMarcus Lawrence (back) – LP
- DE Jack Crawford (foot) – LP
- DT Terrell McClain (thigh) – LP
- LB Justin Durant (hamstring) – OUT
- CB Morris Claiborne (groin) – OUT
- SS Barry Church (forearm) – LP
- SS J.J. Wilcox (thigh) – OUT
The biggest news here is that safety Barry Church will be returning to duty from his broken forearm. It's a timely return as J.J. Wilcox will now be out. With Minnesota always leaning on their passing game for offensive hope, getting Church back is big for the Cowboys' struggling pass defense.
Names like Tyron Smith and DeMarcus Lawrence are going to be here every week with nagging injuries. They have nagging issues which won't keep them out of games but will limit their practice participation likely through the season.
It's unfortunate to be without linebacker Justin Durant for this game. He's primarily been playing in passing situations alongside Sean Lee, so he will be missed as the Vikings look to exploit Dallas through the air.
C Joe Berger (concussion) – OUT
- DT Shariff Floyd (knee) – OUT
- CB Marcus Sherels (rib) – OUT
- CB Mackensie Alexander (groin) – LP
The loss of their starting center is huge for Minnesota. Berger, who had a brief backup role in Dallas from 2006-2007, has started every game since Week 8 of the 2014 season. The Vikings already have the league's worst rushing offense, so this injury hurts a lot.
It's worth mentioning the horrible time that Minnesota's had with offensive tackles. Veterans Matt Kalil, Andre Smith, and Jake Long have all found their way to injured reserve during the year. The Vikings are already surrendering over two sacks per game, which will now be compounded by the loss of Joe Berger. If the Cowboys can't gets sacks against this team, then they never will.
The defensive injuries aren't critical. Shariff Floyd, the former 2013 first-round pick, is still just a backup. Neither of the injured cornerbacks are in the top four of Minnesota's CB depth chart.