For the Dallas Cowboys, the start of mini-camp was supposed to be a relatively exciting time. Cowboys Nation was eager to cross off another item on the checklist that will lead up to the 2016 season. While the now-mandatory practices will still closely resemble the light OTA work the Cowboys were doing, the team was also planning on slowly accumulating the likes of Dez Bryant and Orlando Scandrick back onto the football field.
This morning, Dallas received even more good news, as Rolando McClain and Ronald Leary reported to practice. By the early afternoon though, the day had taken a sour turn for Jason Garrett's squad.
First, the newly acquired defensive end Benson Mayowa was ruled out until training camp after having his knee scoped. The procedure is considered minor, and with no further setbacks Benson will work through training camp and the preseason as scheduled.
While this is obviously a big blow for the unproven Mayowa to further prove himself in front of Rod Marinelli, the Defensive Coordinator can now get a look at the other waves of pass rushers he has to deploy on opposing quarterbacks.
Randy Gregory may be suspended for the first four weeks of the regular season, but has been worked hard all throughout the early summer. Gregory along with guys like rookie Charles Tapper and second-year player Ryan Russell will all get even more snaps now over the next three days of camp.
In other injury news, things are not so bright for running back Darren McFadden.
The veteran back has suffered setbacks with injuries all throughout his NFL career, but had a healthy resurgence behind the Cowboys offensive line in 2015. Still, the aging back preparing to enter the final year of his contract in 2016 did not prove enough to stop Dallas from drafting the better backfield scheme fit in Ezekiel Elliott at fourth overall.
McFadden will now be sidelined until near the end of training camp. Not only will this likely immediately bump Elliott up to the top of the depth chart, but it will allow Scott Linehan and the Cowboys to evaluate their other zone-blocking runners in an expanded role.
Alfred Morris could look at this as a huge opportunity to become the veteran presence at his position that the Dallas Cowboys originally wanted Darren McFadden to be this season. Rookie Darius Jackson should also see some more snaps, as he tries to fight for a roster spot by proving himself as a versatile and explosive play maker.
In the end, Jason Garrett and the Cowboys are all about competition, and these two injuries will open up plenty of that at two positions that feature a solid amount of depth on the current roster.