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Durant Injury Could Force More Linebacker Shuffle


IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys made it exactly one week into the season before injury issues struck one of their starters, as they could be without Justin Durant for the time being.

The early prognosis on Justin Durant's groin injury is three to four weeks, which could sideline him at least through Week 5. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said the team will continue to monitor him to see what his availability will be in coming days.

"We'll just take him day-by-day like we will everybody else, and he'll get treatment and rehab," Garrett said on Wednesday. "We haven't practiced yet today, so we'll see what his availability is and list that after."

Durant suffered the injury in Sunday's loss to San Francisco, where he tallied 11 total tackles from the weak side linebacker position. The Cowboys moved Durant outside in favor of Rolando McClain at middle linebacker, and they moved Bruce Carter into Durant's old strong side role.

With Durant possibly gone for the time being, the Cowboys could replace him with Kyle Wilber. The third-year player was the Cowboys' starting strong side linebacker throughout Organized Team Activities and training camp, but he was replaced when the team shuffled the lineup to get both McClain and Durant onto the field.

The team could potentially move Carter back to the weak side and re-insert Wilber into the starting lineup. There are also other candidates at Will if they opt not to move Carter – namely Anthony Hitchens and Korey Toomer.

"We'll look at all the options – we really will – and all the different guys, playing in both base and nickel," Garrett said. "Because we've cross-trained these guys all throughout training camp and they have experience at different spots, that does give us some versatility." [embedded_ad]

Hitchens has spent time at both middle and weak side linebacker since the Cowboys drafted him in May, and he was the starting Will at the team's Wednesday walkthrough. Toomer is a recent signee from Seattle. A a 2012 fifth-round pick, he struggled to get playing time – both because of injuries and the Seahawks' defensive depth. He was placed on the non-football injury list in 2013, and the Seahawks made him one of their final roster cuts this season. He made three tackles in Seattle's 34-6 preseason win against Chicago.

Injuries have become an unfortunate theme during Durant's time in Dallas. He injured his hamstring last season in the November loss to New Orleans, and he re-aggravated the problem several weeks later in the loss to the Packers. He missed six total games in 2013, and this latest problem looks likely to add to that total.

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