IRVING, Texas – The concept of day-to-day has taken on new meaning in Dallas.
It's par for the course for coaches to conceal just how serious an injury is. The problem for the Cowboys now, though, is many of these "day-to-day" injuries have turned to weeks, and the "week-to-week" ones could soon turn to months.
It's possible some of these apparently minor tweaks or setbacks actually carry into the start of the season, which will make decisions on the cut-down dates of Aug. 27 and Aug. 31 tougher to figure out as well.
When Morris Claiborne walked off the field on Aug. 6 after a training camp practice, the cornerback thought he might be able to return a day later. It's now Aug. 20, and the minor knee injury is still sidelining him.
"If he does anything, it will be toward the end of the week," head coach Jason Garrett said Tuesday, two weeks after the injury. "I don't anticipate a lot of practice for him this week or this weekend."
That sounds like Claiborne won't be available for the preseason game against the Bengals, which will feature the starters more than any other preseason game, meaning his first time to return to the field may not be until the opener or later.
Claiborne isn't the only one whose apparently minor problem has become more extended than initially thought. Defensive tackle Jay Ratliff's hamstring injury during the conditioning test to begin training camp didn't appear to be major, but he hasn't returned since.
Defensive end Anthony Spencer underwent a minor knee procedure after the conditioning test that was supposed to sideline him two to four weeks. A month later, he's not positive when he'll be back, meaning two of the four anticipated starting defensive linemen may not play in a preseason game this year.
Guard Nate Livings is in a similar boat after his minor knee surgery. He theoretically should return soon based on his expected timeframe for recovery, but he doesn't appear to be particularly close to coming back.
The Cowboys and owner/general manager Jerry Jones are confident guard Ron Leary can return and start in the opener after his knee scope, which occurred after Livings', and is optimistic considering how long the recovery has been for other Cowboys who underwent minor arthroscopic knee surgery.
Safety Matt Johnson thought he'd be able to possibly start working back into practice Monday after a foot injury he sustained in the Hall of Fame Game, but Garrett said his return probably won't be until the end of the week or next week. The same goes for Cole Beasley, who hasn't been able to put his full weight on his foot.
"These are all day-to-day, by the way," Garrett said Tuesday, "so we'll see how they feel and we might have a different plan." [embedded_ad]
The Cowboys need to hope that day-to-day is really day-to-day, with the cuts soon approaching.
The uncertainty regarding the severity of these injuries may mean the Cowboys need to go longer at a position than they would have liked, which could also mean passing up on players they'd like to keep if everyone was healthy.
More importantly, if these seemingly small injuries don't get better quickly, the Cowboys may be suiting up against the Giants in the opener without starters and key contributors they expected back weeks ago.