Cowboys Fear Pro Bowl Defender Suffered Torn ACL During Practice: Report

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Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Gerald McCoy left practice Monday after sustaining an apparent lower right leg injury, the team announced.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports the Cowboys fear McCoy tore his ACL, which likely would end his season.

“He’ll have an MRI that will tell the full story, and nothing is known until then,” Rapoport tweeted. “But that’s the initial word following the incident.”

According to on-site media, McCoy went down during individual drills and “quickly clutched” his knee. He was “visibly frustrated” and unable to put weight on the leg while being helped off the field.

“Before ducking into the locker room, McCoy attempted to take some steps unassisted but could not,” observed ESPN’s Todd Archer.

The Dallas Morning News captured a photo of McCoy going through drills prior to his injury.

McCoy was Dallas’s first 2020 free-agent addition to what became an overhauled — and significantly upgraded — defensive line. The six-time Pro Bowler, who spent much of his career in Tampa Bay, inked a three-year, $20 million contract with $7 million guaranteed at signing.

Capable of playing end or kicking to the interior, the owner of 59.5 career sacks is (was?) penciled in as a starter aside $105 million pass-rusher DeMarcus Lawrence.

“He’s a perennial Pro Bowler, and he looks great. Can’t say enough about the shape he’s in and just the energy that he brings to our defensive front,” Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said of McCoy on Monday, per ESPN. “… He’s a great fit for us. We look for him to be a force inside.”

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Replacing McCoy

Even in a best-case scenario, the 32-year-old will be sidelined for the foreseeable future. In a worst-case scenario, he doesn’t see a single regular-season snap, eventually housed on injured reserve.

McCoy’s loss is a blow for the Cowboys defense, but hardly insurmountable. The club boasts arguably the league’s deepest defensive line after also signing ex-Pro Bowlers Dontari Poe, Aldon Smith, and Everson Griffen. They, too, used third- and sixth-round draft picks on DL Neville Gallimore and Bradlee Anae, respectively.

And it appears Dallas exercised crucial foresight in its decision to retain veteran Tyrone Crawford, who, SI’s Mike Fisher noted, will “slide right into” McCoy’s inside-disruptor role at defensive tackle. Gallimore and 2019 second-round choice Trysten Hill could help pick up the slack, as well.

Hill, who played in just seven games amid a disheartening rookie campaign, is pushing for first-string reps as a sophomore. Crawford spoke Monday about the 308-pounder’s night-and-day difference from last season.

“Trigger Trey, man. That guy is an animal,” he said of Hill, via in-house reporter David Helman. “A lot of last year was just him growing up and growing into a pro. Now, with this offseason work and his mindset and mentality coming into this thing, I’ve seen him a pro right before my eyes. We’ve had a lot of good conversations so far over some meals, and I can see it in him. He’s focused, he’s hungry and he wants it. He’s got some good opportunities ahead of him, and I just hope he takes advantage of them. I love my young guys and I want to see them do the best they can do.”

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL