Sunday Night Football in Week 10 of the 2013 NFL season will feature the Dallas Cowboys (5-4) on the road to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to play the New Orleans Saints (6-2). Both teams have injuries in key positions and released their final reports on Friday. In a two-part preview we will look at the injured players and their status for the game Sunday night.
The Cowboys injury report lists wide receiver Miles Austin as doubtful. He did not practice this week with a hamstring injury. Austin, along with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, form the core the of Cowboys’ passing game. While they have seen some success without and with Austin, he has not been as reliable this season as we have come to expect. This could be due to injuries keeping him on the sidelines. On the season, he has played only five games. In those games, Austin has 15 catches for 125 yards, averaging 8.8 yards. He has no touchdowns but has not lost the ball either.
Dez Bryant is listed as probable with a back injury. According to Bryant,”I’m playing…I’m feeling good and I’m playing.” Bryant injured his back during the finale last season against the Washington Redskins. He had difficulty walking afterwards and finally left the stadium in a wheelchair.
Since then, Bryant has had nagging problems with his back. Cowboys’ vice president Stephen Jones told reporters Friday that Bryant’s issue is more about tightness in the muscles, and not disc related. Despite the ongoing issue, Bryant has yet to miss a game this season. He did not practice Wednesday and was only allowed light practice on Thursday and Friday. Last season, Bryant burned the Saints’ defense for 224 yards, a career high. This season, with the Saints utilizing Rob Ryan’s defensive schemes, it will be interesting to see if Bryant can pull off another stellar performance Sunday.
A third wide receiver, Dwayne Harris is listed as probable with a hip injury. He was in full practice all week, so should be ready to play come Sunday night. Harris has not been as active as some players, but he does have eight catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns. He is also quite productive, averaging 9.9 yards per reception. His presence in the lineup will give quarterback Tony Romo another outlet when facing the Saints’ defense on Sunday.
Safeties Barry Church, Danny McCray and J.J. Wilcox are all on the injury report. Church is probable with hamstring issues but has been in full practice all week. Church has been instrumental in the Cowboys’ defense this season after missing most of last season due to a torn Achilles injury in Week 3. Church has 66 tackles this season, forced three fumbles and caught one interception.
Danny McCray has issues with his hip and toe and Wilcox has a knee injury. McCray is listed as probable and was in full practice this week. Wilcox did not practice and is out for the Saints’ game.
Cornerback Morris Claiborne did not practice this week with a hamstring, and is out this Sunday. Claiborne and Church both sustained their injuries against Detroit. Owner Jerry Jones was optimistic about Church but deferred judgment on Claiborne until tests could be done.
Running back DeMarco Murray has a knee injury but is listed as probable. He attended full practice all week and should be on the field Sunday. Defensive end DeMarcus Ware returned to practice this week after being out with thigh problems. He was in light practice, but he is listed as probable, so we may see him this Sunday. Another game-changing DE, George Selvie, was in light practice with a shoulder injury and is listed as probable. Selvie has been responsible for several plays that have lead to the Cowboys’ success on defense.
With most of these injured players listed as probable, it is highly likely (75%) that the Cowboys will be able to field a slightly bruised but formidable challenge to the New Orleans Saints. Expanding Romo’s options in the running and passing game will help in scoring drives against the Saints.
By Brandi Tasby