ARLINGTON, Texas – The Dallas defensive line is going to be shorthanded against Tampa Bay on Sunday night.
The Cowboys already knew they'd be without DeMarcus Lawrence, as he was ruled out Friday with a back injury. But Sunday evening brought the news that veteran defensive tackle Cedric Thornton is also inactive with the ankle injury that held him out of practice this week.
The team released all seven of its inactives 90 minutes prior to kickoff against the Buccaneers. In addition to their two defensive linemen, they also listed Mark Sanchez, Morris Claiborne, J.J. Wilcox, Alfred Morris and Mark Nzeocha as inactive.
The sight of Morris on the inactive list might be a bit surprising, given that he's been the Cowboys' No. 2 running back throughout the season. But the team activated Darren McFadden from the Non-Football Injury list this week, and the veteran is expected to contribute right away in his first game back.
Claiborne and Wilcox are both expected absences, as the two defensive backs continue to recover from lower body injuries. Wilcox suffered a thigh contusion on Thanksgiving, and this week was the first time he had practice since that win against Washington. Claiborne injured his groin on Oct. 30 against Philadelphia. There's optimism he'll return before the end of the regular season, but he's not quite ready.
Sanchez and Nzeocha are healthy scratches.
The defensive line will have all of its other hands on deck without Lawrence and Thornton – who have been two of the Cowboys' most productive pass rushers over the last month.
The duo of Benson Mayowa and Ryan Davis – who have both spent time inactive this season – will both suit up to help offset Lawrence's absence. The Cowboys also called up third-year defensive end Zach Moore from the practice squad, and he'll be active for his first appearance of the season.
It's expected that either Mayowa or Jack Crawford will start at right defensive end in place of Lawrence. The Cowboys will turn to Terrell McClain, Maliek Collins and David Irving to offset Thornton's absence. Tyrone Crawford can also play at defensive tackle, if need be.
The Buccaneers' inactives are quarterback Ryan Griffin, wide receiver Donteea Dye Jr., running back Jacquizz Rodgers, defensive tackle John Hughes III, defensive lineman DaVonte Lambert and offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch.