With the Cowboys’ pass defense now ranked 31st in yards allowed per game, any good news is welcome. The return of a starting safety and positive news about a starting cornerback certainly qualify.
Barry Church is set to start this Thursday night against the Minnesota Vikings. He has been out with a broken forearm since the Cowboys’ Week 8 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. He will play with a brace on his lower arm.
Church’s return is timely as J.J. Wilcox, who has started in his absence, could miss a game or two with a thigh injury suffered last week. Jeff Heath will now be the primary backup at safety.
Morris Claiborne injured his groin in the same Eagles game and has been out since. His return timetable has been more vaguem, but Jerry Jones provided an update this morning.
Jerry Jones said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas he expects Morris Claiborne (groin) to return at some point in regular season.
With only five weeks left in the regular season, that means Claiborne’s return could be fairly soon. On the other hand, if the Cowboys keep winning then they may elect to give Claiborne some extra time to heal up and wait for the playoffs.
Some of the passing yardage that the Cowboys’ defense has allowed has been strategic. They’ve been content to let team chew up the field while protecting the endzone. It’s hard to find fault given their 10-1 record and winning streak.
Once Claiborne returns, it will be interesting to see how Dallas manages the snaps among their cornerbacks. Rookie Anthony Brown has played well and will be tough to take off the field.
Getting Church and Claiborne back will allow Dallas to get more aggressive up front, trusting their starters to hold up better in coverage. This will be invaluable in the playoffs, but even now as they look to secure home field advantage over the final five weeks.