The Dallas Cowboys suffered a huge blow to their much maligned defense on Tuesday when they lost rookie defensive end Demarcus Lawrence. Lawrence broke his right foot and will be out 8-10 weeks. He was being counted on to produce immediately, but Dallas will have to look elsewhere now. They must be patient in finding a suitable replacement.
The Cowboys can’t simply expect a guy like Jeremy Mincey to step in and take over all by himself. If he does that it would be more than a relief for the team. They must assume he will continue to be a rotational guy. They have guys willing to step in who are currently on the team, but they all have question marks surrounding them.
Anthony Spencer and Tyrone Crawford could be the guys who step in, but they are both coming off major injuries. Spencer hopes to be back for the first game against the San Francisco 49ers, but it’s quite a long shot. George Selvie was solid last season, but nobody is certain he can maintain that level. Then there are guys like Ben Bass, Martez Wilson, and Caeser Rayford who all have limited NFL experience.
The other option would be to focus the search to free agency. Many of the high-profile defensive ends were already signed by other teams, but there are still some familiar names out there. But the Cowboys shouldn’t be too quick to sign anyone because of the money they may want. If they wait they will be able to gauge their comfort level with their current defensive ends, and it might also knock down the asking price of the veteran players. When the season gets closer, players often settle for smaller contracts so that they can get back on the field.
Some names to keep an eye on are Adam Carriker, Andre Carter, Brett Keisel, Mark Anderson and Kyle Moore. Let’s face it; none of these guys are perfect or star players. If they were then they’d already have a team. They do provide the potential to fill in for whatever length of time Lawrence is out.
Nobody knows what the Cowboys will do, but they must bridge the gap somehow. They must examine all possibilities to keep pressure on the opposing quarterback. I fully expect Dallas to bring in a few of these guys while continuing to develop their young defenders. Lawrence’s season isn’t over. He’ll be back, but the Cowboys must find the guys willing to buy in at the right price.