That the Dallas Cowboys are walking into a glorified tune-up game Sunday against the hapless Miami Dolphins is a fortuitous break for the battered NFC East leaders.
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett on Friday ruled out four starters for the team’s Week 3 home matchup against winless Miami: defensive tackle Antwaun Woods (knee), defensive end Tyrone Crawford (hip), safety Xavier Woods (ankle), and wide receiver Michael Gallup (knee).
Dallas also ruled out backup linebacker Luke Gifford, who’s fighting an ankle injury, and WR Tavon Austin, who remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol.
Woods, the lineman, sustained a sprained MCL in the second quarter of Dallas’ Week 2 road victory at Washington when teammates inadvertently landed on his leg. He’s considered day-to-day, though the club is sidelining him for Sunday’s tilt and activating second-round rookie DL Trysten Hill, a healthy scratch for the first two games.
“We are deep with guys that can play,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told 105.3 The Fan on Friday, referring to the defensive line. “We think help is on the way.”
Crawford reportedly is dealing with bursitis in both hips but hopes to return in Week 4 against the Saints. His absence coincides with the departure of first-round bust Taco Charlton (who was claimed by the ‘Fins) and the return of veteran DE Robert Quinn, who will make his Cowboys debut following a two-game league suspension, starting in place of Crawford, opposite DeMarcus Lawrence.
Woods, the safety, who suffered an ankle injury in the waning moments of Week 2, was given a recovery timeframe of 4-6 weeks. Darian Thompson will start in Woods’ place and rookie Donovan Wilson is expected to be activated for the first time this year.
Gallup, too, went down during the closing frame of Dallas’ conquest in the nation’s capital. An MRI revealed a torn meniscus tendon which he had surgically repaired — a procedure that could cost him upwards of a month.
With Gallup and Austin mothballed, the Cowboys will roll out Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, Devin Smith and Cedrick Wilson as the primary wideouts.
The teams will formally announce their inactives 90 minutes prior to the 1 p.m. ET kickoff from AT&T Stadium.
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Xavier Nearly Out of the … Woods
Excuse the bad pun. But there’s optimism that Woods will only miss the Dolphins game, his ankle not nearly as bad as initially anticipated. This, according to in-house reporter Bryan Broaddus, who refuted speculation that Dallas could acquire outside help to station aside Jeff Heath.
Maven Sports’ Mike Fisher reported something similar Friday, that Woods is closer to day-to-day than week-to-week, and if the Cowboys’ opponent was more formidable, there’s a chance he (and Antwaun) would have gone.
“In fact, Xavier Woods is already doing some sideline work at practice and Antwaun Woods keeps privately pushing to play. The fact is, the woeful Dolphins – while not to be taken too lightly, of course — may be thin enough in overall talent to allow the Cowboys to endure their injuries by resting the injured,” Fisher wrote.
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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL