Not that it differs from the norm, but Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is optimistic about Leighton Vander Esch’s availability for Week 10.
Very, very optimistic.
In a radio interview Friday, Jones stated that he expects the Cowboys’ All-Pro linebacker, who’s dealing with a neck stinger, to suit up Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings at AT&T Stadium.
“Oh yeah. I do. He’s practicing, and he’s feeling better. No one has been champing at the bit more,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan, via the Dallas Morning News.
Vander Esch suffered the neck injury in the team’s pre-bye win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Although initially hopeful he wouldn’t miss time, the former first-round draft pick couldn’t get cleared in time and was forced to sit out Dallas’ blowout of the Giants on Monday.
Vander Esch was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Coach Jason Garrett suggested he’ll remain limited Friday, which would still put him on track to play.
Veteran ‘backer Sean Lee filled in for LVE against the Giants. He was terrific, leading the club with 12 tackles (nine solo, one for loss). Lee would again start if Vander Esch cannot go, and he figures to see additional time regardless.
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Jerry Provides Sparkling News on Amari
Vander Esch isn’t the only Cowboys starter relatively iffy for their second straight nationally-televised contest. Star wide receiver Amari Cooper is unofficially questionable after suffering a knee injury against the Giants — the biggest story at The Star this week.
Jones, however, is supremely encouraged by the results of Cooper’s Wednesday MRI, which revealed a left knee contusion but no structural damage. The Cowboys’ czar all but outright stated that the Pro Bowl wideout will be in the starting lineup versus Minnesota.
“A total clean bill of health if we were drafting him or signing him tonight,” Jones said, via 105.3 The Fan.
Cooper described the issue as “manageable” and the brain trust reportedly is hopeful he’s active Sunday night. But combined with previous foot, ankle and quad maladies, it muddles his chances of effectively contributing to the Cowboys’ offense.
“I mean, I want to play, you know what I’m saying, to be able to put up numbers to help my team win,” Cooper said Thursday, per the team’s official website. “Whatever I’ve got to do to do that, I’m cool with it.”
Jones Doubles Down on the #BlackCat
A recent report stated that the stray black cat that went viral for running across the MetLife Stadium field on Monday cannot be found by personnel who want to take it for a veterinary examination.
Jones, who quipped after the game that he owned the cat, saw the report and revealed the feline is a Cowboys charm of sorts — or a fan of the franchise, depending on how you interpret his comments.
“I just read a little note that they’re trying to find that cat in that big stadium. We’ve got him hid out up there. He’s only gonna come out for Cowboys games,” he said, per The Athletic. “You got to have good cat communication to be effective in the NFL today.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL