FRISCO, Texas – Just as the Cowboys' defense appeared to be moving closer to full strength with starting defensive end Randy Gregory expected to be activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list this week, the team placed linebacker Keanu Neal on Reserve/COVID Wednesday.
It's uncertain if Neal will be cleared in time for Monday's home opener against the Eagles, but the Cowboys will have to prepare this week to play without him. Gregory, right guard Zack Martin and backup offensive lineman Brandon Knight were previously on Reserve/COVID, and all missed one game because they didn't clear protocol in time.
Neal to Reserve/COVID is the latest challenge for a Cowboys defense hit by injuries early in the season. He started at middle linebacker in Week 1 and has been a regular in the linebacker rotation, playing 50 and 51 snaps against the Bucs and Chargers. He ranks sixth on defense with eight tackles (one for loss).
Gregory's expected return will boost the Cowboys' defensive end rotation, particularly with fellow starter DeMarcus Lawrence on Reserve/Injured for a few more weeks following foot surgery. But Dorance Armstrong sprained his ankle against the Chargers and his availability for Monday night against the Eagles is yet to be determined.