FRISCO, Texas – To no one's surprise, Mike McCarthy wasn't interested in announcing specific plans to replace DeMarcus Lawrence (broken foot) for the next few weeks.
"I should've just brought the game plan in here," the Cowboys' head coach joked during his daily press conference. "It would be easier."
The Cowboys also could be without fellow starting defensive end Randy Gregory (COVID-19 protocols) this Sunday against the LA Chargers. Certainly not ideal against second-year quarterback Justin Herbert, who threw a rookie-record 31 touchdown passes last year and had 337 yards and a touchdown in a win over Washington last Sunday.
But the Cowboys are still confident in their pass rush depth heading into Week 2.
"We've got a plan," defensive end Tarell Basham said.
The most obvious part of that plan is likely more snaps for Basham, a fifth-year veteran who signed with the Cowboys in the offseason, and Dorance Armstrong, now in his fourth season with the club. When healthy, they were the primary backups for Lawrence and Gregory in training camp.
"Dorance has done an excellent job," McCarthy said. "Basham is back. He had some time off there in training camp (with an ankle injury).
"You have the young guys, Bradlee (Anae) and (Azur) Kamara, so we'll just continue to work the rotation and there's some game plan situational things that we'll do also."
Basham, Armstrong and Anae all played at least 10 defensive snaps in last Thursday's loss to Tampa Bay. Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn set a heavy rotation in the opener to ensure the defensive line stayed fresh in hot, humid conditions.
The Cowboys hurried Bucs quarterback Tom Brady at times, but Brady made it difficult by getting the ball out quickly.
More consistent pressure on Herbert will be critical.
"We lost two guys, but we're confident in the guys we got," Basham said.
Said Armstrong: "Guys have been working for a moment like this. It sucks that it happened to those guys and we don't have them right now, but they'll be back and we're going to hold it down until they do get back."
Another option to help replace the production up front is rookie linebacker Micah Parsons. The first-round draft pick was a situational pass rusher in Week 1 against Tampa Bay and finished with seven tackles and a quarterback hit in his regular-season debut.
How much Parsons' role changes without Lawrence remains to be seen.
"We'll see," McCarthy said. "Once again, I think you have game plan specific things that you do, but we've been very conscientious about how we play Micah, both at the off-the-line responsibilities as opposed to being on the line."